This morning, I was sitting here working on re-drafting the outline for a novel that I began in 2009. That story has never really left my mind and it is crying out to be finished. We’ll see what happens with it when I get back into it, but it needs some work and the amount of material that I have left after culling the dreck that spewed out of my brain during word wars is, sadly, not much. Where the story sits right now, it’s not even a novella. It’s a short story.
Outlining, for me, is work. Writing is something I can slap down when I have twenty minutes and feel creative, but the work part of writing a story, is doing the outline. It requires that the entire length of my six foot long dining room table be available to me. I clear everything off of it and I actually grab pens and paper and I organize notes based on my “talking points”. It’s an involved process that ends with my hands covered in paper cuts and filled up plastic pages designed for storing baseball cards. Each pocket contains slips of paper that have a sentence or two meant to describe a third of a chapter… and several sheets, will eventually contain the gist of my novel.
This process can take a couple of days to complete.
I was in the frame of mind to begin that process this morning, but I had some things getting in my way. My dogs, and I write about them a lot so I know that they need no introduction, were wrestling under the dining room table where I was setting up shop. The dining room table is my writing spot. This is where I am creative, it’s where I get things done. I love this room and no one ever eats in there anyway. We don’t even eat in there on Christmas.
It is also Lucy’s favorite spot. I suspect that Lucy likes this spot for the same reasons that I do. It’s out of the way of the rest of the family and yet still within line of sight of everything, so it’s possible to be left alone and not get stepped on, or in my case interrupted, and still be a part of the family activity. Unfortunately, Mugen is quite aware that this is Lucy’s favorite hiding spot. He knows that this is where he can expect to find Lucy when he wants to wrestle and he wants to wrestle every single morning without fail.
Mugen and Lucy used to wrestle with almost no noise made. It didn’t bother me too much, there was the occasional growl or snarl and when it annoyed me, I broke up the wrestling and sent them to their corners. Now, they make a LOT of noise. Lucy is prone to growling and snarling, Mugen is prone to barking at her when she disengages from the fray.
I love watching her walk away from him. It’s at times like this that I wonder if her last name used to be “Princess”, because she wanders off looking like Queen Elizabeth as she’s walking toward some event of state with her nose held ever so slightly in the air. Her movement is full of purpose and importance but her foot steps are still ladylike and elegant. She ignores Mugen completely when she walks off, and he doesn’t like it. He lets her know by barking at her as though she were the enemy at the gates.
While all of this was going on beneath my dining room table, as I was trying to work out where I’d put my post-it notes, I heard a gentle, but distinct knocking sound just to my left. I glanced over and a tiny yellow head bobbed at me from behind the bars of a cage, then it whistled at me.
Graybird has been our constant companion for as long as my husband and I have been married. He was around even before that. He and my husband were a package deal. Graybird has outlived the expectations for most cockatiels, being somewhere between 24 and 26 years old. His plumage is still in full color, faded somewhat from when we first met, but still beautiful. He still does the hokey pokey with me at least once a week and he and I sing to Japanese pop music almost every single morning.
Today, I had skipped our usual singing and Graybird was quietly letting me know that its absence was noted. He was also telling me that his food bowl was empty.
Ignoring the dogs, I got up from my chair and as I stood, Graybird climbed off of his food bowl and back onto his perch and waited for me to take the bowl, fill it with pellets, some dried fruit and half a peanut and then I put it back and he blew kisses at me before he proceeded to dine.
Mugen and Lucy stopped wrestling and stared at me as I talked quietly with Graybird and we exchanged a few more kisses, then I went on with my morning. Graybird used to sit on my shoulder while I wrote. He would blow kisses into my ear and chew on my hair, but Graybird will not let me handle him for very long these days. Not since his partner, Babe, passed away in 2003.
I’ve missed having him whisper in my ear while I work. I think, sometimes, that he still holds it against me, that I took Babe away from him when she died. My husband has to put him on my shoulder for me, he won’t sit on my fingers unless my husband puts him there and it does break my heart, just a little bit. I miss my feathered friend.
But, he has not snubbed me completely.
Every morning, when the house is quiet, Graybird and I exchange a few words, blow a few kisses and he flirts with me a bit. I know that my husband trained Graybird to do all of these things long before I ever met them both, but it still seems to me like this is our routine, a quiet moment, for just the two of us.
Having him in the dining room now, sitting in his cage just over my shoulder has been a nice visit back to the past, when my world was a little less dark and a little more wide. He blows kisses in my ear again when I am writing. He whistles at me like I’m a hot goddess when I come downstairs in my bathrobe and my hair sticking up in such glorious fashion as to make Edward Cullen’s stylist smile with glee and pride. I know the days ahead with the little guy are short and even though he is very small, so very much smaller than my dogs who take up so much more of my time, he will always have a very large place in my heart.
Until then, the sun is warm and shining brightly and when he sings, the world is beautiful.