Thursday, June 28, 2012

New birdcage is a pain in the butt

I finally got a bigger birdcage for Toothless the Hysterical Robin the finch, who is still breathing but still can't fly. It's a much bigger birdcage. Jekyll, who is not a small cat, decided to take a look at it while I was putting the perches in.

The bottom was mesh and I worried that the bird would catch his little legs in it, so I covered it with paper instead. When I was done, the cage looked awesome. It has two dowel perches it came with, and I added three natural-branch perches (from the yard). I also put in the swing that came with the little original cage, and tied a millet spray from the roof so that it dangles down to the bottom of the cage. While I was working on it, I was all excited at the thought that maybe the bird would be able to hop along the branches and would be interested in eating some of the seed off the millet spray. He might even make it up to the swing!

And then I put the bird in the cage, and he flopped around frantically trying to get purchase on the slick paper. When I took the paper out, he promptly fell on his back and got both wings stuck through the bottom mesh. I put him back in his old cage.

Then I got the wire cutters* and carefully removed the bottom panel of the cage. Because this compromised the cage's integrity, I used zip ties to anchor all the corners together. Then I poured a bunch of the corn cob bedding that goes everywhere into the bottom of the cage, replaced the food and water containers, added the food and water containers from the old cage, and installed the extra water dispenser I bought. I want to make sure the bird doesn't have to travel far to find food or water. The more energy he can conserve, the faster he'll heal.

I put the bird in the new cage. He flapped around for a while, then sat down to sulk. Oh well. He sure looks more comfortable to me.

*This translates to "Then I drove out to Walmart and bought some wire cutters."

Monday, June 25, 2012

Somebody enter so I won't be too embarrassed

After an inexplicable delay, I finally have a giveaway up on Goodreads for Evil Outfitters, Ltd. I tried to list it Saturday night, but it didn't actually go 'live' until today. No one's entered yet. So please do feel free to enter, because if I get no entries I will have to crawl under a rock in embarrassment.

Update: Hurray, two people have entered! Thank you!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

In which I bore everyone talking about the bird

The bird is ALIVE. Yeah, seriously. He's like Indestructo-Bird. I was going to name him Robin but I think his name should actually be Hysterical, because he is. Even finches bred for hundreds of years as cage birds don't really get tame. This finch is a true wild bird. He does not like having me around him.

It looks like I'm going to have him around for a while. In fact, I hate to say this--since for one thing, it's illegal to keep wild birds as pets, not that I want to--but even if he lives I may not be able to release him. His tail is definitely broken so he can't fly although his wings are okay. It's hard to tell about his legs, but I'm not sure he can actually use both of them. They don't look broken, so I suspect he may have the bird equivalent of paralyzation from the waist down. If he can't fly and he can't perch, he can't survive in the wild.

I went to the pet store today to look at bigger cages. I liked one of them, which was roomy and wider than it is tall, with a mesh floor instead of the solid plastic floor my current cage has. But it was $60. I'm not quite ready to spend that much on a bird that might still die. So I didn't get him a cage, just some freeze-dried, shredded vegetables meant for finches; when I opened the bag, it smelled so good I wanted to stick my face in and graze.

AND I GOT JEKYLL A COLLAR. With a bell. When he goes outside, he has to wear the collar. I wasn't sure how he would react, but I think he must have worn a collar at some point in his pre-stray life. He didn't fuss even while I was adjusting the fit. It's a black collar with glow-in-the-dark moons on it, and he's very handsome wearing it. When he comes back in, I take the collar off. I'd hate to have him catch it on something and strangle himself while I'm at work.

Another thing I did today as a direct result of having a hysterical bird in my room was change my mattress out for the one in the other bedroom. I can't sleep on that other mattress because it's too soft; I prefer to sleep on a rock with a mattress pad on it. So I swapped the mattresses out and I'm going to use the other bedroom as my bedroom. The bird gets my old bedroom. That way Hysterical Robin gets more alone time, Jekyll can sleep on my bed with me again, and hopefully I'll get more sleep.

The things I do.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Bird Update

The finch is still breathing, although I don't think it'll be for much longer. Poor little bird! Today was the first time I got a decent look at his injury, and...let's just say I won't be posting any pictures. I am astounded that he's lived this long.

I thought about taking him outside tonight to let some critter kill him swiftly, because he's got to be in serious pain. But then I thought, 'well, it's too late for that, let him stay where he's safe and has food and water.' So I am.

I was going to be hysterical about it and sleep on the couch tonight so I wouldn't have to move his cage. Every morning I put his cage on my bed so he can see out the window and get some (indirect, not too hot) sunshine. But I went ahead and moved him back to the dresser so I can sleep in my bed tonight. There's no need to be silly.

I'm probably coming across as awfully callous, but I've been through this too often with hurt birds to get emotionally invested. If it was Jekyll, I'd be miserable. Then again, if it was Jekyll, I'd have taken him to the vet. Wild birds don't get a vet trip, they just get a chance to heal in a safe place.

Now I have to go back to writing Shadow Trail, which is 35,000 words long and nearing Act 3 and the big finale. I'm not going to have enough plot to make it to 60,000 words as I'd planned. But if I can make it to 50,000 I think it'll be okay for a younger YA.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

It's a bird! It's a...okay, yeah, it's a bird.

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting right here at my computer, as usual, when Jekyll the cat came in to tell me something. He was very insistent, so I got up and followed him to the bathroom across the hall.

There he had left me a little gift, a house finch (maybe a purple finch? I can't tell the difference) he had caught. It wasn't dead, which put me in a terrible position. I mean, yes, cats kill little animals and birds; it's just one of those things they do, although Jekyll hasn't shown any skill at it until now. And yes, it was sweet that he had brought it inside to give to me. But it wasn't dead. And it was fluttering around pathetically in the bathroom, trying to fly away, and Jekyll was showing every sign of wanting to play with it some more.

I scooped the bird up and took it outside, and sat next to it for a few minutes to see if it would recover or die. It sat there, refusing to stop breathing. I thought about leaving it there, but I knew another critter would just come along and kill it if I did. So I went inside, got one of the cat's little bowls (irony!) and half-filled it with some oat seeds that I bought to grow so the cat has greens to nibble on. Then I went back out, caught the terrified bird, and plopped him in the bowl to use as a nest.

I left him shut in my room for about an hour. I fully expected him to be dead when I returned. But when I checked on him...he was gone. Vanished in a small bedroom. It took me a good twenty minutes to find him hiding behind the curtain. I returned him to the bowl/nest and went out to buy a cage.

Thirty bucks later, the bird was in a nice little temporary cage with finch seed and water and deep bedding made of ground-up corncobs (although I probably should have just used newspaper; the corncob stuff is already everywhere). I draped a very sheer scarf over the cage to make him feel more secure without smothering him, and went to bed (cat shut out of the room, of course; he was not happy).

The bird was still alive this morning and ate some of the seed. So maybe he'll survive. I've never had any luck nursing injured birds back to health, though. They always die. I think this one has a broken tailbone and one of his legs may be injured too. He can only hitch around awkwardly, can't stand properly, and can't fly properly. His wings appear uninjured, though. If he makes it through a week, I think I can keep him alive until his tail mends. I'll keep everyone posted.

Oh, and Jekyll...geez, I dunno what to do with him. Catching mice, yes, I want him to do that. Birds, no. Hopefully this was a fluke.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Ugliest Kitten in the World

Well, she's not. Not the ugliest kitten in the world, that is. She's not my kitten, either; she belongs to the granddaughter of a friend of my mom's, the same woman who gave me Jekyll, who comes over to visit Jekyll (and me) occasionally. Tonight she brought the kitten.

<--I would like to reassure everyone that she is playing with a toy fish. Not a toy anything else. Just FYI.

I think the kitten's gorgeous. If I didn't already have Jekyll, and if it didn't require stealing a kitten from a little girl, I'd have kept her. She's a dark calico with a light gray undercoat, which makes her look like she's been rolling in soot, and her eyes are a remarkable dark amber--almost as brown as a dog's eyes.

So there it is: beauty is as subjective as anything else. Here is a picture of Jekyll too so he won't get jealous.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Today I kill a man

Work on Shadow Trail is moving along briskly, I am happy to report. Camp NaNoWriMo has really helped me stay on task, so even though I'm behind in word count, I'm way ahead where I would have been otherwise. I'm up to 21,000 words total, although almost 6,000 of those words were written pre-June.

I have an outline, but I've added so much to the plot that I need to rewrite it. And I hadn't planned on this book being so fast-paced, so some of the chapters I had planned are going to be jettisoned starting today. For instance, according to the outline, the chapter I'm about to write should have had my main characters Marian and Jacob* hiking a few miles with a group of other refugees, with Marian getting increasingly worried about the noise they're making. Instead, in the New, Improved Outline, the chapter starts with the camp getting raided overnight and Marian and Jacob--who wisely camped well away from the others--discovering that everyone is gone. And I will probably have at least one person die.

And of course there will be a couple of people who escaped the capture, although I'm not sure what to do with them yet. But I'll figure it out.

This is a YA with light SF elements and a sweet romance between the two main characters, so with its pace being so fast I think I can wrap it all up in no more than 65,000 words. It would be wonderful if I could finish the whole thing by the end of June, because I've got another project, working title Wharf Rat, that I want to work on next. I started Wharf Rat a few weeks ago to see if I could write grimdark fantasy that's so popular these days. Well, I can't, but instead it's turning out funny as hell.

*Remember guy-who-looks-just-like-Alex? Who I said one day I would use his real name for a character? That's him.