Friday, March 26, 2004

Coocoo

Years ago I had a pet Cockatiel named Coocoo. She was a Cockatiel Noy and I had bought when we first moved to Huron, South Dakota in the summer of 1983. This story takes place a couple years later. It was in April of '85 and one of the first warm days of the year. I was at work when I got a phone call from Noy. She was panicked because she had set the bird cage out on the deck and the wind had knocked it over and Coocoo got out.

I raced home to find Coocoo still in the area, perched on a power line by our apartment. There was no way she was going to come back to me. The winds were blowing hard from the south and a cold front was bringing some very strong thunderstorms toward us. I remember seeing her fly from the power line and getting caught up in the winds which quickly took her out of site. I felt so helpless as I really loved that little bird. I couldn't stand the thought of losing her, especially with the violent weather which was approaching.

The weather got so bad that night and the winds so strong that the windshield on my car was cracked by a piece of gravel or something which hit it during the storm. I couldn't imagine how Coocoo could have survived it. I walked the neighborhood the next morning calling for her as she was very tame and I thought there might be a slim chance that she would come to me after what she had been through the night before. There was no sign of her.

A week went by and I decided to put a small add in the local paper which said, "Lost, pet grey Cockatiel" and I listed our phone number. Two more weeks went by and I had pretty much given up on ever seeing her again. Then one morning I got a phone call from a farmer 18 miles to the north who said he thought our bird might be staying around his farm and that I might want to come have a look. I had one question for him. I asked him if the bird hopped like a Robin or waddled like a duck when it walked. He said it would put one foot in front of the other sort of like a duck. I felt it was worth checking out after that answer and so I did.

I had the afternoon shift that day so I had to hurry. I got up there around 10:00am and I no sooner got out of my car when I saw Coocoo fly to a power line and perch herself above me. There was no question that she knew me but she wouldn't fly to me. I had no means of catching her so I decided I'd have to buy some sort of net and come back the next day to try and catch her. As we were talking with the farmer, his dog was hanging around. I remember the farmer saying to not let the dog get anywhere near the bird because it would not be good. I bought a fishing net on my way to work that day.

I got up early the next morning and arrived at the farm house as the sun was rising. I also brought along Coconut, our other Cockatiel and its cage to act as a lure for Coocoo. I remember getting out of my car with the fishing net in hand. I walked toward the barn and was curious that nobody was up and about; I always thought farmers got up with the sun. As I approached the barn I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the dog come out from the barn with Coocoo on the ground walking by its side. I remember talking very softly and saying, "hey Coo...it's me...it's okay" She continued to walk slowly not so much toward me but just sort of keeping her distance. I was thinking I had only one chance to get her back and this was it. I very slowly began to extend the net toward her but well above her so as not to alarm her. All the while I'm talking very softly to her. I slowly let the net down closer to her and when I got within a couple feet of her I thought to myself, it's now or never. I quickly brought the net down on her and with my heart racing, I reached down and picked her up. I cupped her in my hands through the netting and in an instant I was devastated as she went limp in my hands. I knew that birds were susceptible to shock so I was pretty certain she would come around. I softly blew on her and talked to her and within a short time she sprang back to life and bit into my thumb. I remember thinking...it's okay girl...it's okay.

I got her to the car and Coconut was talking a mile a minute at the sight of her. I got her back into the cage and felt such a sense of relief to have her back. She was a bit tattered I could see but she seemed okay. I went to the house to see if anyone was awake and they were just getting up. I thanked them over and over and tried to give them $20 for all they did but they wouldn't take it. I asked to use their bathroom and on my way out I left the money on their kitchen table.

It wasn't until I got home that I realized that the dog was never a threat to Coocoo. In fact, I think she was getting warmth from the dog at night as the temperature was still getting down into the 20s at night and Cockatiels are a warmer climate bird. If you could have seen how both the dog and Coocoo walked out of the barn together you would understand why I believe this.

Coocoo lived another six years and died in October of '91. I was sitting in our kitchen when I heard a thump in the bottom of her cage. I walked over to see her on her back and struggling. I quickly picked her up and held her as she died in my hands. Wow, I've got tears in my eyes as I recall this. She was such a special bird and she too has a piece of my heart. I buried her in a box behind the garage and cried my eyes out as I did. I've got a photo of her somewhere and I need to post it on the net as she's earned her place. You can see her in the beginning of this video from my dad's video page.

Video of Coocoo

I have to thank God for the extra time Coocoo and I shared as his hands were all over our finding one another again.

Ride Photos and a Letter From Carol

I ended up taking back the Gateway mp3 player because it offered no way to specify the order the songs were played in. I went to Bestbuy and purchase an MPIO but it too wouldn't let me organize the tracks. I settled on the iRiver 512mb, flash media mp3 player. I'm very happy with it. It's nice and small and with my music compressed at 64kps, I can get over 8 hours of music on it. And yes, I can organize the songs. So, it's nice to be jammin' to some good tunes on the road.

Last year toward the end of my riding season I was seeing some beautiful Fall colors out on my rides. I remember wishing I'd had a camera along and then I got the idea that it might be fun to be able to snap some photos along the way and upload them to the net and incorporate them into my blog. I found this nifty little camera on line and orderd it. It works real well at 1.3mp and it's so small.

I got some disappointing news yesterday from the American Association of Stained Glass Artists. My lamp wasn't selected for their calendar for 2005. The woman who began the organization wrote me a very nice letter encouraging me to resubmit it as she really thought it belonged in the calendar...here's her email.

Dear Kevin,

I wrote you a letter today, but then decided not to mail it since using email is such an easier way to correspond with someone. First of all, I'm sorry to have to tell you that your Laburnum shade won't be used in the 2005 calendar. We had a unusually high number of laburnums to consider this year - six in all.

As you know, I personally love your lamp; however, the decision about which lamps will be used is not up to me but is decided on by our voting members. Many members who voted at the Feb. meeting agreed on the beauty of your lamp but, I'm sorry to say, others thought the purple areas of flowers in your lamp were too bold for a golden Laburnum...in other words, purple is not found in nature's laburnum. There was, however, uniform agreement that your photography work was splendid.

We will definitely consider your slide again next year, but I'm hoping you might be able to get shots of other views to send to us. Perhaps other areas of your lamp show more consistency of color? I'm hoping you will find the positive meaning of this message.

Sincerely yours,

Carol

p.s. do you have slides of more of your lamps? Many members send slides of several different lamps...that gives us more of a chance to feature one of their works.

I wrote her back and thanked her for her kind words and she replied with...

Kevin,

I appreciate the objectivity I saw in your reply. Of all the members I had to contact, it was most difficult for me to write to you since your submission was such a beautiful interpretation and the photography was so good. It was difficult for me to choose words that would not hinder your enthusiasm for lamp making.

Thank you for considering the idea of a re-shoot of your Laburnum. I hope you and Tammy enjoy your time together working on your new lamp. It's rare to find a husband/wife team that can carry that off! I hope to hear that you're sending photos of both lamps!

Carol

Yea, I'm a little disappointed but that's the way life goes. Hopefully I'll try again next year and have some success.

I can't believe that Tammy and I rented Jackass tonight. Parts of it were very funny but other parts were too crude to even laugh at. I can't let Rachel know we watched it.

I got out for a 45 mile ride today. I headed out on Hwy 13 through Mendota. It felt good to be climbing on the hill coming out of Mendota and into Lillydale. I rode a mile past Lillydale, turned back and retraced my tracks into Eagan. I headed down toward the Minnesota river and rode past the Blackdog power plant where I picked up a bike path which runs along 35w. Heavy rains yesterday washed out part of the trail making my bike a muddy mess. I came out on Hwy 5 and took that home. My legs were a little tired but it felt so nice to be out. The sun was shining and the winds were light. I was expecting it to be about 53 degrees but the temp got up into the mid 60 and I got a little warm.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Working...Again

I've got the all night shift tonight and a few hours to kill before I'm due back in the control room. I had a good ride last night and was able to get in 50 miles after work before the sun went down. It was pretty nice out with the sun shining and 42 degrees but my toes got a bit numb toward the end of the ride. I rode for and hour and fifty minutes tonight before work on my trainer in the basement. I really want to be able to start getting in some long rides early in the season this year with hopes of doing the trip to Babbitt toward the early part of July while I've still got the longest days to work with. That's going to be about 240 so I'll need every bit of daylight I can get.

I went out today and picked up a new mp3 player for my rides. I got the Gateway 310 with 256mb of flash storage. I paid $135 for it and figured that was a good price. The Apple Ipod with 4gb of space is nice for $250 but it's larger than I'd like and the battery isn't replaceable on the road should it run out. I'm downloading some songs to it as I write...okay, I'm back...just had to figure out what I was doing wrong.

I haven't done much work with the website for over a month as I needed a break from it. I've been downloading a bunch of programs from A&E at home and bringing them in to work to watch on my breaks...Cold Case Files, and American Justice are two of my favs.

Keith left for Houston last night around 6:30 with some race friends of his. He was driving his rig and traveling with two other rigs. There's an NHRA (National Hot Rod Assn) meet in Houston this weekend. Keith has been working on his car quite a bit the past couple months getting it ready to race so he's pretty excited to be going. I called his cell a couple times today to see how he was doing. The last time I talked to him was at 8:00 tonight and they were 30 minutes from the track having driven through with just one 4 hour stop for rest last night. I should see if I can find a link to the track website and follow his efforts this weekend.

Monday, March 8, 2004

Airforce 2

I got to work Chenny's plane tonight about an hour ago as he left Sioux Falls, SD for Andrews Air Force Base. He's somewhere around Chicago as I write this. I only had to move one aircraft for him. I offered him direct routing to save some time but it was declined. I imagine they're on a schedule and want to stay with it.

We've been working pretty steady on the lamp for Don and Dorothy. I've got quite a bit of work left to do but it's nice to finally be making some progress. I went to J. Ring Glass Studios last Friday to try and find some better green for the leaves but I wasn't very successful. I bought a couple sheets which will work okay but not as nicely as I'd hoped. Green is probably the most difficult color for me to find. The color is okay but I'm just worried it doesn't have enough life...depth. I suppose I shouldn't worry too much because it's the same green I used in my Laburnum and I'm very happy with how it turned out.

It's been getting ugly on the message boards lately...not mine...but another I frequent. This is going to be a nasty campaign year. Everyone is digging in their heels and not giving anything. There isn't anything which could cause me to cast a vote for Kerry or Nader. I can't say I'm pleased with everything Bush has done but I agree with most of it. The illegal alien legislation still has me bothered. I'm guessing he thinks he'll get some Hispanic votes from the decision and he may be right. That's the way the game is played unfortunately.

Toby and Allie were both sick yesterday. They both started vomiting at the same time and I finally had to put them in their kennels to minimize the messes I had to clean up. They're doing much better today but we've got them on a restricted and diet for a day or two. They're so sweet. Yesterday morning Tammy brought them up in bed with me as she had to leave early...anyway, I woke up an hour later with Allie resting her head on my neck, sleeping softly...such a precious moment.

Time to pack up and head for home. I've got to drop Eddie off at home as he hasn't driven since he got his hand caught in his snowblower and lost a finger while mangling the others...see ya.

Thursday, March 4, 2004

Stained Glass

I finally began work on a lamp last week for my uncle Don and aunt Dorothy. I'd been putting this project off for quite a while as I just hadn't been up to it. I'm making an 18" Tulip, Tiffany reproduction lamp for them. I began with the tulip flowers first...I got them cut from the sheets of glass and Tammy has begun to grind them to size. I hope to get some more done tomorrow as it's going to be snowing here all day so I won't be tempted to be out on my bike. I'm usually winding down my stained glass projects this time of year because when the weather turns warm I spend as little time as possible indoors...anyway, not this year...I really need to get this lamp done in the next few weeks though. Don is making a violin for Rachel and we're doing a lamp for them in return. I've got a friend at work who wants me to do some glass work for his home but I seriously doubt I'll get to it this year. We also have the window to do for the prayer chapel at Hosanna but that too will have to wait until next winter. Once we begin work on our basement I don't know how we'll have any extra time to devote to stained glass.

I forgot to mention that we went to The Passion with Mom last Tuesday night. What a powerful movie. Please go see it if you can.

I was able to get out for a quick 30 miles on my bike this morning before the appraiser came. I was on Dodd blvd, just west of Cedar ave when my x wife drove by me. She didn't know it was me but I recognized her car. I caught up with her at the stop light but didn't make any attempt to get her attention. She was with someone I didn't recognize.

Wednesday, March 3, 2004

On the Road Again

I've been able to get my bike out on the road 4 times in the past week. It's such a good feeling to be out there and with all the training I've been doing in the basement the past 2 months, I'm actually in pretty good shape. Most of my rides have only been 30 miles but I was able to put in 50 on Saturday. It's odd to be out there with still so much snow on the ground. The temp has been in the upper 30s to lower 40s so it's not too bad. Snow is moving in tomorrow afternoon...another 3 inches so I'm going to try and get out early for 40 miles. We've got a home appraiser coming by at 1:00 tomorrow so I need to be back before he gets there...this should be the last time we'll need to refinance. I still haven't put my new Mavic Ksyrium wheels on my bike...I think I'll wait till the roads are nicer.