My Bird, Cora

Me and Cora
Me and Cora

Several years ago, a friend called me up and asked if I wanted a free bird. She knew that I was going to be moving into an apartment soon and only small pets were allowed. I had been thinking about getting a parakeet or something for a while. Anyway, she said, “My neighbor gave me this bird that they bought for their six-year-old daughter. But it just wasn’t working out. Do you want it?”

So, before I knew what hit me, I was in possession of a bright yellow, female parrotlet and cage. The first day, I took the bird home, my nephew, Benjamin, happened to be over. “What should I name this bird, Benjamin?” “Cora,” he replied without batting an eye in his four-year-old head. “Why Cora?” I asked. “Because Cora is beautiful.” I shrugged and dubbed her Cora. If he hadn’t come up with a name, I may have called her something much less poetic like Lemonhead or Tweetybird.

On her favorite perch--my pillow.
On her favorite perch–my pillow.

Now, I knew nothing about birds in general or parrotlets in particular. That first week or two of having Cora in my home was full of bit fingers and loud, angry chirping at me from her cage. I thought it might be time to do a little research on the little wretch. The thing was, she really seemed to enjoy having people around. I never had a problem getting her to step on my finger  or sit on my shoulder. But her mood could change on a dime. So, I did what all good twenty-somethings have been trained to do—I Googled it. After clicking on the first link, these words met my eyes, “Less than six inches in length, be assured that parrotlets are true parrots, with all of the virtues and some of the vices.” Ooh. That didn’t sound good. I read on to discover that, “A parrotlet life span is believed to be around 15 to 20 years but no one knows for sure.” I did a quick mental calculation and realized that I could be stuck with this little yellow beast until I was forty. Oh, dear. What did I get myself into? Furthermore, my bird happens to be an American Yellow which is a classification of Pacific parrotlet. According to the article, “Most Pacifics have a well-deserved reputation for being feisty and bold. They are very much ‘a large parrot personality in a small parrot body.’ They are the most fearless of the parrotlets and can be very stubborn and strong-willed at times.” Well, a few things were starting to make sense.

Protesting my musical choices. She doesn't care for Modern Classical.
Protesting my musical choices. She doesn’t care for Modern Classical.

My friends did not miss Cora’s naughty streak by pointing out that the Isrealite, Korah, was swallowed up by an earthquake after rebelling against the Lord. Did I, per chance, name Cora after him? Ha, ha. Very funny. Actually, I preferred to think she most likely resembled James Fenimore Cooper’s high-spirited, feisty heroine Cora Munro in The Last of the Mohicans. Admittedly, Cora Munro was much more sensible than Cora the bird.

In spite of her ornery personality, though, I was beginning to like having her around. She could be quite sweet and companionable. It was only when she suddenly turned waspish that I wanted to wring her little neck. So, I began the disciplinary process by flicking her beak with my thumb and finger every time she bit me. It was sort of an uphill process all the way—she’d bite me, I’d flick her beak, she’d fly off to her cage in a huff. Then she’d get sweet for a limited time only and we’d start the whole process all over again.

Among the tea things.
Among the tea things.

Now after a few years, the fruits of my labors are becoming more evident—the good qualities of parrotlets are showing up. She is very personable. She likes hanging around on my shoulder on my head, in my lap while I’m sitting at the computer typing up a blog post or story. At this very moment, she is walking from my left shoulder to my right shoulder, back again and down my arm. She’s quite acrobatic. When I come home from teaching or speaking or whatever, she chirps loudly from her cage until I come and get her out. Only when she’s sitting on my shoulder is she quiet. The long and short of it is, I shall be heartbroken at age forty.

So, tell me, what are your pet stories? Does anyone have a parrotlet?

 

Safely on my shoulder with paper out of reach. She enjoys poking holes in my papers and my clothes, for that matter.
Safely on my shoulder with paper out of reach. She enjoys poking holes in my papers and my clothes, for that matter.

 

 

 

My Week

I believe last week qualified as a whirlwind. Between Monday and Thursday night, I taught nineteen music lessons, finished a Union Gospel Press assignment and prepared for the weekend. Friday, I was off to Martin JC Wheeler library where I talked to a group of 35-40 kids from the local Christian school.

Talking to the kids!
Talking to the kids!

That evening, I sang and played an hour’s worth of music to about 30 ladies. Saturday, I hopped back in the car and drove to LaGrange, IN, where I gave a talk about how I became a writer.

At LaGrange County Library
At LaGrange County Library

Sunday, I went to church, came home went back to church and rehearsed some music before the evening service, went home and crashed. Yesterday, I taught four music lessons and went to the first orchestra rehearsal of the season. It was tiring, but didn’t lack for interest, that’s for sure. For instance: on the way to LaGrange, a glass bottle flew up from who know’s where and smashed into my car. My grill is thoroughly banged-up. Shortly after that, the car in front of me got a flat tire and practically stopped in front of me on the free way. Next, a girl in an SUV pulled out right in front of me, causing me to slam on the brakes. My good old car is still kicking, though.

As I look forward to the rest of this week, I realize there is so much to do! First things first, is set up that book club idea I mentioned in the last post. I brought that up to the kids at the library, and some of them seemed fair to bursting with excitement at the possibility. What shall I call it? Amanda’s Book Club? Any ideas? I’m open to suggestions.

I recently noticed that another blogger undertook reviewing my novel. Here’s what Jhona said, “I will admit that I haven’t read a fiction book in the Christian Historical Fiction genre for a long time because I felt like they were predictable and I was quickly bored with the simple plots…I was so happy that this one surpassed my expectations!” You can read the full review on Jhona’s blog We Weirdos Need To Stick Together. If you leave her a comment and your contact info, she’ll enter you to win a free copy of the book plus a mug and tea! The giveaway was entirely Jhona’s idea, as she bought an extra book just so she could give it away. I feel honored.

Well, I must go. If you have name ideas for my book club for young people, leave them here for me in a comment! (Just recall that it involves writing, as well.)

My Grand Idea

On Friday, I’ll be going to the Martin J C Wheeler Public Library for a book signing. I discovered that a group of kids from the local Christian school will be showing up to hear what an author has to say and ask questions. I am greatly looking forward to that. Some of the kids, I understand, are interested in writing and want to get some tips. So, I’ve been pondering what kind of tips I can give. Honestly, the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’m convinced that writers have to be great readers before they turn into great writers.

I think, in other words, that I would encourage them to read constantly! That is exactly what I did as a little girl and teenager, and I believe it shaped me as a writer.

The wheels are beginning to turn in my mind with all sorts of questions. What books would I advise them to read? What questions should they ask themselves while they read a book like, say, Jane Eyre? (One of my favorites) Well, they should consider the kind of theology Charlotte Bronte put forward in the book. How does her idea of God fit with what the Bible says about God? Was it a wise choice for Jane to go back to Mr. Rochester in the end? What would the Bible say about that?

I have this wild plot hatching in my brain. What if I were to recommend one book a month right here, and ask young people to read it with certain questions about the book in mind? Once finished, they could write a little review, expressing their thoughts about the book as they read it and send it to me. What if I published the best paper right here on the blog? (With parental permission, of course.) I think it would be a lot of fun to hear a young person’s perspective on the great classics, don’t you? Kids are far more perceptive than we give them credit for.

Well, I will have to think about this grand scheme a little while longer. And so I will say goodbye for this week while the wheels continue to turn.

Fall Book Tour

My book on display at Kalamazoo's Barnes and Noble!
My book on display at Kalamazoo’s Barnes and Noble!

I felt the business of my life increase exponentially on September 1 for several reasons. 1. All the kids are going back to school which means all my violin and piano students that took time off during the summer are coming back too. 2. Orchestra rehearsals start in about two weeks for me. 3. This week includes two more showings of The Wednesday Morning Breakfast Club. 4. But more to the point, this month begins my Fall Book Tour. I’m on the docket to perform at least one musical concert for a ladie’s retreat, give two speeches, appear at a local bookstore for a signing, go to several libraries, do a radio interview, and do book signings at six Barnes and Noble locations. Phew! This will be a learning experience for me, as I’ve never done anything of the sort before! God give me wisdom, health, strength and please keep my car alive. Old Faithful is looking rustier than ever, but still runs like a trouper. The worst possible scenarios will run through my mind, though, as I contemplate all this traveling ahead of me.

I’ve added three more tabs to the top of the blog. Do you see? There’s a link to Twitter, Events and The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse. If you click on the Events tab, it’ll take you right to a listing of all the places I’m going to be this fall. Maybe one of them will be near you! If you haven’t bought a copy of The Pursuit of Elizabeth Millhouse, you can click on that tab which will take you to where it’s listed on Amazon. And the Twitter tab will take you to…Twitter.

That is all for now. I hope to see many new friends as well as older familiar faces this Fall!