miles: a tribute.

This is going to be a tribute to my parents’ dog, Miles. Also my dog! The family dog, although he moved into their house when I already was living on my own.

On Monday, Miles had to be “put down,” as they say. He was 11, old for a large dog, and his back legs didn’t work well and it got to the point where they didn’t work at all and he couldn’t walk or even live. My parents had to make the terrible decision that pet parents must make every day – it was better for him to be guided by science into a peaceful eternal slumber than to live another day feeling scared, confused, hurt, and unable to do anything he loved.

The death of a pet is a nightmare many of us know too well. And I’m sorry. I’m sorry for my mom and dad, I’m sorry for me, I’m sorry for all of you. Animals like cats and dogs do not live nearly long enough. Birds can live like 80 years and turtles like 100…but not cats and dogs, our closest animal companions.

You KNOW I love birds and turtles (tortoises?). But this is a tribute to Miles. So here goes.

We got Miles in Spring 2009 and he was very small and cute. AND SOFT. I just love puppies and I feel like I don’t get to hang out with enough of them.

I don’t know if it was the day we got him or just the first time I met him, but we went into the “back field” behind my parents’ house and he was running around after us on his little puppy legs and we loved him so much. He instantly was very sweet and kind and cuddly and fit right in with all of us.

Miles was a dog that loved people and always needed to be around people or he’d be sad. Not even mad or agitated, just sad. Crying and howling and jumping out and breaking our kitchen window one time, cutting himself on the glass so he needed stitches. This was how desperate he was to be next to us. There is not a love so pure anywhere else in the world.

Miles was cuddly if he felt like it, but not too cuddly. You may be aware I dislike cuddling overall so he was the perfect dog for me. He would sit right next to me on the couch and be cute but not smoother me with himself. Unlike my sister’s pitbulls, who are cuddly in the way that they seem like they want to be INSIDE of you, acting like fully merging their bodies with yours so they can FULLY BE A PART OF YOU is their only goal in life.

It’s fine, they’re still cute.

Another characteristic common for large dogs is just like…fear? They’re very big but somehow they’ve evolved to be terrified of certain things: fireworks, thunderstorms, the sound of an NFL game on the TV because they know their dad might yell. Miles was really very scared of many things: he had a thunderjacket for storms and patriotic celebrations, and he would hide behind my mom and I when the sports game was on. He also got really scared of gunshots or the sounds of trucks in the distance when we were walking in the woods and we would have to reassure him.

I always thought it was so sweet that he would look to us for comfort and he would usually accept our reassurance. He was a good boy.

Miles loved walking and running in the woods and breaking off his leash to chase deer and rabbits. He did this a few times and he was in BIG TROUBLE and then he was not allowed that kind of leash freedom again. We didn’t want to lose him!

Although he was part lab, he wasn’t much of a swimmer. He preferred to occasionally wade in the river to cool off and take a drink, but he certainly wasn’t jumping in and swimming around like a true lab would. If we were out in the water he liked to stand on the shore and whine until he got tired and went to lay down in the shade.

Miles really was a big baby. A great dog! But a baby. He never wanted to be away from us. I already said that but like, HE REALLY DIDN’T WANT TO. We were his reason for existing and if we weren’t around or not paying attention to him he was beside himself.

Over the years I made a ton of silly videos of Miles barking at me while I was babysitting him. He would always bark NONSTOP and I don’t know what he was trying to say but it seemed along the lines of “HANG OUT WITH ME I MISS MY MOM I HATE YOU I LOVE YOU,” over and over again. It made me NUTS when I was trying to work or get something done or take a nap. But eventually I figured out that if I hugged him in the same style as his thundershirt he would calm down.

What a weirdo.

He often climbed up onto couches or chairs next to us and would paw at our arms to get us to pet him. He wasn’t much of a “fetcher” but he would bring a toy over just for a little toss so he could engage with us for a minute and then sit back down, curled up happily with the toy. He loved his squeaky blue football and had it for many years.

Everyone loved Miles, and he loved everyone. Every visitor that ever came over was his friend, even if they sucked he still liked them.

He loved to go out to eat and calmly sit under the table at outdoor restaurants. He love, love, LOVED the All About Downtown Festival in Jersey City and attended it like 5 years in a row. It was his favorite day. I know because he told me.

He spoke to me, he spoke to all of us.

He was such a good dog, and we love and miss him so much, and I just wanted to think about him for a minute, so thanks for listening.

Miles is survived by my mom and dad, my brother and sister in law and niece and nephew and their dog Leroy, my sister and my brother in law and their pitbulls Apollo and Ziggs, and Finn and Smee the goats, and Pony the pony, and Jax the horse. And my boyfriend and our 4 budgies Elvis, Birdie Sanders, Blondie, and Franz Birdinand. And me. Also, his closest companion and partner in crime Guinness, the oldest dog alive. He has a big family and he made many people and other creatures happy and we love him so much. That’s all I wanted to say.

So now, at the end of this dog obituary/eulogy, I invite you to think of the pets you have lost over the years. And think about how great they were, and how much you miss them. And know that it’s okay and normal to miss a pet and still think about them, years later.

Because I say so.

Rest in power, Miles. But like, also in peace. I hope you’re not too scared without us there to hug you. </3

meet the birds.

Did I ever tell you about the time I went to Meet the Breeds? Well, that will have to wait. Because this is meet the birds.

The birds! We love them! We got them a few weeks ago on New Year’s Eve at Paterson Bird Store and we’ve never looked back.

Actually, we HAVE looked back because some of them are grumpy and screech a lot and this adds to the pain of my constant daily headaches.

But we still love ‘em so let’s meet ‘em.

elvis costello.

Elvis is our first bird and we already had him so you may already know him. But he is a GOOD BOI. He is quiet and patient and he tries to keep order in the cage.

He’s kind of the boss of the others because he was here first. When they start to act crazy he begs them to calm down.

They usually don’t listen.

Elvis loves to fly in laps around the living room and eat kale and basil. He’s the only one that can leave the cage right now because we are trying to train the rest and it’s taking literally forever.

Elvis is so cute.

blondie.

Blondie is mean and grumpy. I’m sorry to say it but she is. She yells the most and she bites the most.

Yes they bite! My parakeet when I was little didn’t bite, and Elvis doesn’t bite, BUT BLONDIE BITES.

They just bite when they’re scared, so since I do my best not to scare them, Blondie has luckily only bitten two or three times, when we’ve needed to move her around. They hate it when you grab them and I don’t blame them but occasionally you have to do a gentle little grab to get them from one place to another quickly and safely.

Now that they’re in their cage and we’re trying to train them we shouldn’t have to grab her anymore so hopefully she’ll feel less scared and won’t bite anymore.

HOPEFULLY.

Blondie is very pretty and she’s kind of my dream when it comes to coloring. I didn’t realize that there were so many different color mutations for budgies and as soon as I saw ones like her on the internet I was like, “it will be mine, oh yes, it will be mine.”

She was my number one pick at the store and it makes me sad that she’s so grumpy but we’re doing our best to win her over.

According to the internet they take a long time to train and to like you or even just tolerate you so I guess it’s going to be a long ride. Blondie also always YELLS and it is ANNOYING.

Like not a nice little peep or even a loud but clear and sweet chirp but like a SCREECHING YELL. She is OUTRAGED. No amount of “talking to her in a calm soft voice” helps.

Sometimes she does make a pretty, sweet chirp and I’m like “Blondie you look so pretty when you smile!” And I know, saying that to her is UNFAIR.

And I’m sorry.

birdie sanders.

Birdie Sanders was my boyfriend’s number one pick at the store and he’s pretty cute. He just hangs out most of the time.

Eek I need to clean these branches.

I felt terrible for him when we got him because the people at the store trimmed all their nails and one of Birdie’s nails was cut too short (a common accident) and started to bleed. The blood looked super red and dark and dramatic coming out of his tiny pink foot. It actually really hurt my feelings.

They cleaned him right up and he was and is fine but that’s how I’ll always think of him, with his bleeding little foot. Ugh I’m gonna cry.

A lot of the time Birdie sits apart from the others and I’m not really sure why. At first it seemed like they picked on him a little but now it just seems like he likes to do his own thing. I also think he’s older than the rest of them, maybe even older than Elvis, because of the way his eyes look.

You can tell their age by their eyes, kinda. When they’re no longer babies, they start to have a lighter part around the their eye, and Birdie has that.

franz birdinand.

Speaking of eyes, Franz Birdinand is a straight up tiny baby because his eyes are HUGE and dark. He’s always just staring with his huge baby eyes, looking for an answer.

Franz is peeking out behind Blondie🤣

Franz and Elvis get along best and it seems like they’re really close pals. They often sit close together and groom each other and it’s really cute.

Franz still gets pretty scared when you approach the cage or put a hand in. He won’t even join the others as they eat millet treats out of my hand. He remains very suspicious of humans, but we’re working on it.

I also kind of always wanted a bright yellow one and Franz checks that box, he’s very bright and pretty, WITH HIS BIG ASS EYES.

So those are the birds! Expect to hear more about them as I get to know them better and continue with their training. They are so cute and I love them so much but the training really takes forever please let it go faster thanks.

They also have an Instagram account that they set up all by themselves and it’s called @herd_ofbirds

paterson bird store.

Today we got 3 new birds! At Paterson Bird Store in Totowa, NJ.

I’m not going to tell you much about the birds yet because I’m honestly scared it’s too soon and they’ll just up and die. Maybe that’s irrational but I just get nervous. After a few days I will properly introduce them. Also two of them still need names! And we want the names to be bird puns and I’m terrible at thinking up puns even though I really love puns so if you have any good bird puns to use for their names PLZ ADVISE.

I WILL tell you more about Paterson Bird Store because I enjoyed it. It’s not IN Paterson, at least not the one I think of when I think of the (NATIONAL PARK!) waterfall or the train station where my friend from Woodland Park comes to pick me up when I visit her. It’s not just my thinking because it’s not Paterson, it’s Totowa. So don’t get confused (I got confused). It’s all in that general direction anyway.

Whatever.

Paterson Bird Store was highly enjoyable! I was looking for a place to get another budgie so my budgie had a budgie to budge with, and I came across it on the Google. I located their Instagram and I thought it seemed like a happy place for happy birds. I also knew I could take a 30min Uber ride there so I was sold.

They were very responsive to DMs and let me know they had a lot of budgies for sale and were open today, New Year’s Eve. YES.

Sadly it was raining, so as we rode through the Meadowlands I didn’t spot any of the outside birds I like to see there, like snowy egrets.

STUPID RAIN.

I WANTED TO SEE BIRDS ON THE WAY TO GET SOME BIRDS.

On the way, I had reached the decision that we would get two new birds, for a total of 3 in our home.

We rode past “American Dream” – hadn’t seen it yet. Well…it was there. We saw it.

We finally arrived at Paterson Bird Store and IT WAS TIME TO PICK OUT SOME BIRDS.

You guys, this is a really nice store. It’s birds and birds only. Special stuff for pet birds. A whole bar/buffet of different kinds of bird seeds and snackies! Tons and tons of toys!

BUT WHERE WERE THE BIRDS?!

“In the back.”

As we entered “the back,” a cacophony of beautiful bird sounds echoed in our ears and we knew true joy.

These birds were having the time of their goddamn lives. They actually seemed really happy and were chirping and flapping and hanging out with each other. It really made me happy and excited to see them all partying in such a way. I feel like my bird Elvis is very quiet and it made me sad, like he’s been so lonely with no bird friends to party with.

This set the stage for me deciding to get 3 birds. It had to be done.

As far as the party birds, I’m only talking about the budgies they have. They had some very pretty finches but I didn’t hang with them too much. They also seemed happy! But I don’t really know their lives so who knows.

A blue and gold macaw, a scarlet macaw, and an African grey were also in residence!

These three are all super cool looking and smart and large birds, and it was a treat to see them and say hi.

Yes. I said it was “a treat.” Accept that. They were lovely and perfect. And I love them forever.

It was really hard to choose a budgie! They were all cute and lively and had fun patterns and feathers. I wanted to go with a bird or two with a wacky color mutation because the one we already have is a very handsome standard version and I wanted to mix it up. I think we did a good job in choosing a standard looking blue one, a bright yellow one, and a gray/white/blue/yellow one. Those are not the scientific names for the colors. But they break them all down here and it’s interesting as hell, if you care.

The gray/white/blue/yellow one was my favorite to choose but he also bites so…yeah. I think he’s just nervous though! Let’s give him a chance, please.

The kind women at the store expertly retrieved our chosen birds and gave them a quick nail and wing trim. Elvis has his wings grown out and can fly around but we thought it might keep these new guys safer to have them short to start, as they learn their way around the apartment. I hope it works for them but they seemed really sad when I was moving them from the travel cage into a bigger cage and they tried to fly away from me and they couldn’t get off the ground.

Not that they had space to fly around before but their wings worked differently and felt different and they were dealing with accepting that and it made me so sad.

Maybe I’m just projecting…but I was like “They WILL grow back you guys!” <sobs>

Anyway they’re adorable and we packed them up and brought them home.

They have to quarantine from Elvis for a week so they are in a cage nearby to allow tweeting and meeting. I can’t wait to hang out with them more once they settle in and stop feeling shy.

And angry.

notable animal residents of jersey city: red-tailed hawks of lincoln park.

The red-tailed hawks of Lincoln Park on the West Side are most certainly notable animal residents of Jersey City. I mean come ON.

Without even bringing up the fact that Lincoln Park is a full-on urban ecological TREASURE, although I just brought it up, the hawks are truly a sight to see and I’m so glad they call Lincoln Park home.

From my personal in the field research I would deduce that there are 4 of them, but I’ll look that up when I’m done writing this and post what I find, at the end. JUST SO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT INFO.

I’d also like to get this out of the way – I don’t have any good pics of them. I have one video that’s okay and a few videos that are very silly But I don’t have a great camera or even any camera skills to go with the camera I have so my bird photographs of actual wild birds living their lives are terrible.

Their noble visages are seared into my heart and mind because I love them very much but I have no concrete evidence of our relationship.

And I’m sorry. You can find a cool video of them earlier this year from Wild Jersey City here.

Also how about you go to the park and see if you can find them.

As we’ve learned before, red-tailed hawks are around! They are friends of urban life. Lovers of urban life. They ARE urban life.

They like to hang out in tall trees by open fields so they can scope out the area for pigeons, squirrels, mice, and teacup Yorkshire terriers to eat. I’m not joking about that. Yorkies HAVE been eaten by red-tailed hawks. And probably other types of hawks. My mom’s chickens would probably eat one if they could.

HOLD ON TO YOUR YORKIES.

Birds are dinosaurs and the sooner you accept it the better.

The red-tailed hawks in Lincoln Park are so cool to me because if you go to certain spots at a certain time you will almost CERTAINLY see them. And I love seeing them! It makes my day. Now that there are no leaves on the trees it’s even easier to see them, you just have to know where to look and then look there.

Where should you look? In tall trees, I already said. They hang out up there and watch you. They can see your face from up there. I swear it! They’re judging you.

JK they’re cheering for you. At least I feel like they’re cheering for me when I run on the track and I’m almost dead and then one flies over me like, “helloooooooo thereeee shannnn” and inspires me to run even faster. Hawks are inspiring! Sometimes they even do their loud ass screech as they fly over, which is the perfect hawk/large scary bird sound as heard in film and TV.

One day when I was running some little children were also running around as their mom did laps around the track and I yelled, “look at the hawk!” to them and I think they were scared of strangers or maybe just haters of cool stuff because they ignored me. I don’t really know.

I also don’t really know much about the red-tailed hawks in Lincoln Park, just that I admire them and wanted to talk about them here. It makes me glad to see something “wild” almost daily and it makes me even more glad that they are walking distance from my home, hanging out in my park.

They’re my friends. That’s all. Deal with it.

I looked up how many there are to get confirmation and I couldn’t find anything so the mystery remains for now.

Deal with that, too.

<hawk screech that fades into the distance bye>

pigeons aren’t rats but rats are also okay.

YOU GUYS. Earlier today I heard someone call a group of pigeons “rat birds” and look at them in disgust and I had to do everything in my power not to flip every table in sight.

Luckily there were no tables in sight

Pigeons are intelligent and can be trained to DELIVER MESSAGES. This is such an uncanny ability that we don’t even REALLY KNOW how they do it. Like science HAS NOT FULLY FIGURED IT OUT.

These birds are a marvel of the natural world, just like everything in the natural world, and they deserve your RESPECT, my friends.

I know that people see pigeons as “dirty” or “messy,” and they are. All birds are. But do you know who else is dirty and/or messy? HUMANS. And if you don’t believe that you’ve never seen the episode of Mad Men where they go on a picnic on the side of the highway and when they leave they just shake all the garbage off their picnic blanket and leave it there.

Currently doing a Mad Men re-watch.

Humans make a mess all over the place. They’re gross and they smell bad. I pretty much hate us but we’re not different from other animals in that respect.

I do understand that many people fear pigeons, and birds overall. They hang out in gangs and they fly around erratically. I get it that it seems like one might get tangled up in your hair or go to the bathroom on you. Or go to the bathroom in your hair.

And yes, that HAPPENS. But I will submit that having a pigeon go to the bathroom on you is way less gross than changing a human baby’s diaper or a dog making a bathroom mess in your house. The pigeon stuff seems like the easiest to clean up and deal with quickly, in my opinion.

Ugh. Bathroom stuff. Ew.

Also birds are essentially dinosaurs. But instead of FEARING that, I’m calling upon you to EMBRACE it.

Don’t even get me started on how people talk about rats. Actiually I’m already started so here we go.

FIRST OF ALL, it is rude as hell to describe a pigeon as a “rat” with a disdainful and disrespectful tone. It is ALSO rude to the rat.

VERY RUDE TO THE RAT.

I don’t need to show you “Templeton at the Fair” yet another time to get you to be cool with rats, do I?

Okay here it is just in case.

But like, rats are fine. Get over it already. Yes they crawl on the ground so they attract a ton of germs. But liking them or at least thinking they’re “okay” doesn’t mean you’re going to like, go up to them and lick them or something. Just allow them to occupy the space. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN THE SECRET OF NIMH?!

HAVE SOME RESPECT.

THIS WHOLE PART TERRIFIES ME TO THIS DAY.

They do medical tests on rats because THEY ARE VERY SIMILAR TO US. Their bodies age the same way. Disease affects them the same way. Even their little brains react to scientists messing with them in the VERY SAME WAY that our little brains react to scientists messing with them.

It’s important stuff.

Rats have done us a great service AND THEY CONTINUE to show up for us in the lab. Even though they don’t know that they’re “showing up” and they didn’t choose to be there. Either way we owe them.

Enough about the lab rats because the rats that live on these streets are also pretty badass. First of all they’re not even FROM here, they came here on BOATS, just like people. I like to imagine it was a real Fievel’s family in An American Tail vibe but yes you’re right those were mice not rats.

Personally I get a big thrill whenever a rat runs across the sidewalk or wanders over the PATH tracks or tumbles into view screeching while locked into a rat-battle with one of its rat brethren. It’s the circle of life. And it…moves us all.

In conclusion, pigeons aren’t rats but rats are also okay. I could have made all of these facts up and I encourage you to fact check them BUT I ALSO ENCOURAGE YOU TO IMMEDIATELY RESPECT BOTH PIGEONS AND RATS.

thx.

*I’ve included some pigeon and rat photos from my cherished personal collection. JK I don’t have any good rat photos. They move too fast!

flat rock brook birds of prey presentation.

This past weekend, during what I considered my birthday weekend and therefore an extension of my birthday, I attended a Flat Rock Brook birds of prey presentation in Ercel Webb Park.

IT WAS INCRED. I love birds and birding and all things bird and have been waiting for the opportunity to see one of these presentations. I saw their recent presentations at Lincoln Park and another park I forgot on social media and couldn’t wait for the chance to go to one myself.

THIS WAS MY CHANCE.

I do think that these presentations are probably intended for children and like…FINE. But I signed up and I went and I saw some birds and you’re never too old to learn something new and hang out with birds. Deal with it.

On Saturday afternoon I headed over to Ercel Webb Park and I was super pumped. First of all in my mind this particular park was called “Lafayette Park” because it’s by Lafayette Pool/Aquatic Center/whatever. I feel like I have even referred to it as “Lafayette Park” and other people have known what I was talking about.

It’s not called “Lafayette Park.” Sorry.

JK I LOOKED IT UP AND IT IS REFERRED TO AS “LAFAYETTE PARK” IN A LOT OF PLACES ON THE INTERNET. There must be some kind of transfer of power/responsibility going on but I’ll have to look into that another time because THIS IS ABOUT THE BIRDS. But PS “Friends of Ercel Webb Park” helped get this event going and introduced the birds and bird pros.

As I was walking over I saw two hawks flying over MLK Drive. I am NOT LYING, they were there. I don’t know what kind but I DO know they weren’t seagulls or turkey vultures because I checked. I CHECKED. So I was super pumped that I saw some birds on my way to see more birds.

When I arrived at the park I saw that they had a cute little pumpkin patch set up for the kids. Since I AM a kid and I had registered myself for the event I took a pumpkin and I don’t regret it. I love pumpkins.

They provided Thanksgiving stickers to put on the pumpkin which I felt was very inclusive and respectful to this most valuable but often ignored November holiday. Great work!

After securing my pumpkin and stickers I proceeded to an open area where there were circles spray painted on the grass, 6ft apart. This was the first place I saw circles like this in person! I’ve seen pics of them doing it in parks in NYC but never experienced it for real and I liked it.

I laid out my blanket, put some turkey stickers on my pumpkin, and took out some knitting to work on while I waited impatiently for the birds to be revealed.

They really built up the suspense with the bird reveal because they had the birds in dark boxes! I’m no expert but I do know that birds feel safe and calm and probably like it’s time to take a nap when they’re in a dark, enclosed space. My pet budgie really likes it and I think he’s qualified to tweet for all birds.

It felt like actual years went by but it was finally time to take the birds out and I’ll tell you all about what I learned!

tilly – eastern screech-owl.

Tilly the Eastern Screech-Owl was napping HARD when they took her out of her box. Since she’s nocturnal it was during her sleep time.

Tilly ended up with Flat Rock Brook because she got attacked by a cat and is blind in one eye. She wouldn’t be able to live her badass screech owl life in the wild, so she lives a badass screech owl life as a bird ambassador and I think that seems okay with her.

During Tilly’s time in the spotlight she started to wake up and move around a little and she was really, REALLY cute.

But also a fierce predator that dines on small rodents and insects. YUM.

Toward the end they played a screech owl sound for us. They said they were going to play it before they played it and I was like “OMG Tilly is gonna LOSE IT!” because that’s what my pet bird does when I play pet bird sounds.

Tilly did not lose it and actually didn’t even notice. I guess she’s just too cool for school.

titus – american kestrel.

Titus, on the other hand, LOST IT. As soon as they took him out of his little box he was yelling and flapping and seemed completely outraged.

Sorry I couldn’t get a good pic of Titus but he was a lovely bird.

Kestrels as a species maybe get a little outraged sometimes, I’m not sure. They’re a type of falcon and were described as “feisty.” They’re common in cities, so be on the lookout!

I also learned that Titus was hit by a car and had one wing that didn’t heal correctly so he couldn’t be released back into the wild. Because he can’t fly. HE IS A BIRD AND CAN’T FLY. HOW RUDE OF THE WORLD.

Honestly I think he’s still pretty pissed about it and I guess I would be too.

jones – red tailed hawk.

Jones! Hello! I love you!

Before they took Jones out they were like, “Just want to warn you, this thing is huge.” And they took her out and SHE WAS HUGE.

I’m used to seeing these guys in the sky in the field behind my parents’ house, up in tall trees at Lincoln Park, and in every state I’ve ever traveled, soaring over the highway. They’re all around!

But it’s super nuts to see one so close because they are ENORMOUS. So large and beautiful and perfect and asking to be my best friend.

Sure!

Loving. It.

Poor Jones was shot by a shotgun and honestly if I remember correctly I have met other hawks that were similarly disrespected. LIKE WHY?!

Additionally Jones has a female Red-tailed Hawk friend named Ramona she lives with, and SHE got hit by a car. I’m so glad there’s a place for the birds to live that will take care of them and watch out for them and also bring them out into the community to hang out with me and other children.

josephine – great horned owl.

Josephine the Great Horned Owl was hurt by garbage humans in a slightly different way. She was found as an owlet, and because she was very, very young, she imprinted on the (not owlet professional caregivers) people that were taking care of her and never learned how to live that owl life.

So now she needs human assistance to live some kind of owl/person hybrid life. SHE IS LIVING A LIE.

But she was very beautiful. VERY. And the most amiable of all the bird ambassadors, I guess because she was the most comfortable around humans and/or didn’t feel like taking a nap like Tilly.

They talked a bit about bird body language with Josephine, I think as a way to highlight how comfortable she seemed compared to the other guys. She really was just hangin out, owling around. And stuff.

I study my pet bird’s body language very closely and I think he wants me to get out of his face most of the time so I found this part very interesting.

And then it was over! It went by so fast! It also started to get cold as the sun went behind the buildings around the park, so I was ready to pack it up and go home.

I can’t wait for there to be another bird presentation in a local Jersey City park. I don’t care if it’s the same birds and bird pros and the same presentation with the same information, I will go INFINITE TIMES.

MAYBE I’LL SEE YOU THERE.

gail’s pumpkin patch.

Just a quick little tribute to Gail’s Pumpkin Patch.

GAIL’S GLORIOUS PUMPKIN PATCH!

Gail is a KuneKune pig that used to belong to my sister.

Gail!

She’s great! But she kept escaping her pen and roaming around and causing a disturbance and my sister felt she’d be better off on a larger farm with more space and perhaps more of her Suidae kind so she gave Gail to a farmer who promised to never…”harvest” her.

Gail again! But she got bigger and needed more space <3

Even though Gail is gone, her pigpen is still here and she left behind a full-on garden that sprouted from the seeds of foods she was fed combined with natural fertilizer. And that’s all I’m going to say about the fertilizer.

Over the summer there were tomatoes! And at the end of the summer pumpkins started to appear!

These pumpkins, of course, were ready for picking. So yesterday we braved the pouring rain and went outside to pick them.

There were 5 pumpkins and they were all pretty big, so that was exciting. Especially because they had just grown on their own without any amount of human effort or consideration. Just Gail living her life caused them to grow so large and beautiful.

I have to Google this but I also think because they were fresh off the vine they were more…moist…and therefore heavier. Also they had some kind of weird clear slime that came out of them when we carved them. I’ve never seen that in all my years of pumpkin carving.

OMG CUTE LIL MINI CURLY VINE
The wet looking stuff is “slime”

My sister and I both carved what I call a “Classic Jack” and it was funny to me that we both carved almost the exact same thing without discussing it or looking at the other’s pumpkin while carving. I guess our style of “Classic Jack” is ingrained in our Pop brains from childhood.

After we carved we also baked the seeds and the were INCREDIBLE.

Carving pumpkins and baking the seeds is one of my favorite things EVER so I was really excited to use these special backyard/Gail’s Pumpkin Patch pumpkins this year. It really made me very glad.

My sister said she was going to throw the guts and some seeds back into the pigpen so there can be a Gail’s Pumpkin Patch Revival next year!

Next year’s pumpkins!

CANNOT WAIT.

rally for liberty state park…again.

Not this past Saturday because I was at a wedding but LAST Saturday we attended a rally for Liberty State Park. I haven’t posted about it until now because I wanted to be very thorough and look things up and fact check like what people do in REAL JOURNALISM. As a classically trained journalist sometimes I like to do that. But it does take a lot of work, so not like, EVERY time.

As you can see, this took over a week to post so I guess I made the right choice in not pursuing a journalism career. Also in the end you’ll see that it’s mostly my opinion so who even cares.

This is the third time that we have gone to protest to protect Liberty State Park on behalf of the Friends of Liberty State Park. Their big issue is preventing the Caven Point section of the park from being developed by the nearby golf course. Caven Point is a natural area where a lot of migratory birds hang out. As well as a ton of other animals like harbor seals and also shanimals.

Yes, I hang out there.

The protests are always held in the southern part of the park, close to Caven Point. To me this part of the park feels like the most “state park” part of the park. I think it’s the parking lot.

On the way in, we noticed an odd box truck with screens on both sides, playing a commercial for Liberty State Park. This commercial seems okay on the surface, but it is not okay. This commercial is a trap. It was created by Liberty State Park for All, an organization that receives funding from Paul Fireman, billionaire and face of the movement to turn Caven Point into 3 holes of the Liberty whatever golf course.

This group has been working on blatantly misleading the community into thinking that Friends of Liberty State Park are somehow against keeping the park maintained and available to everyone. They’ve targeted citizens in Wards A and F (Greenville and Bergen Lafayette, respectively) to try to convince them that the Friends of LSP are against cleaning up the park and developing the park for the community, and that they only care about birds.

You know how much I care about birds. But the whole “bird” thing turned into a whole rude AF target for Liberty State Park for All. Like making fun of people for liking birds and wanting to protect birds. OKAY COOL THANKS JUST MAKE FUN OF THE BIRDS THAT’S REALLY HELPING SHIT, YOU GUYS.

The thing is, it’s very obviously not just about the birds. They just had to find something to focus on, to pick at. To create the narrative that we’re protesting against something that would actually benefit people and therefore we’re being lame for only thinking about birds. But making Caven Point part of a golf course wouldn’t benefit people at all. It certainly wouldn’t benefit “the public.” The public that lives in Jersey City and across the state.

It is a private golf course. It would not benefit the public in any way. Even if Paul Fireman expanded the golf course into Caven Point AND gave Liberty State Park private billionaire money to build some public stuff, like basketball courts, the public would still suffer. There are public funds for things like basketball courts, pools, amphitheaters, and everything else in the OG LSP “Master Plan.” We don’t need to make a deal with the devil madly fiddling away on top of a golf hole to get them. Are they called “golf holes?” I don’t know.

As we entered the park, there were “counter protesters.” I put this in quotes because there is reason to believe that they weren’t actual protestors and were paid to appear and protest. All of their signs were the same, in the same handwriting and said the same thing. As if someone had made them and passed them out. When directly asked what they were protesting for or against…they had no idea.

Everyone has a right to protest of course. And it’s fine, they weren’t doing anything wrong. But it’s suspicious that they were present under such conditions. IAs if they were being paid to participate, or were iuuuuuuu false information, or even worse were given no information at all. Which is actually what seemed like was happening. And it was creepy and weird and dare I say dystopian, just like the intentionally misleading commercial on the box truck.

We arrived at the protest to save Caven Point with a small sign in hand and took some pics with lady lib and then we were ready to protest.

Sadly it seemed like there were less people there than the last time we went to protest in January. And that could be for many reasons, COVID being the biggest one I guess. It was a Saturday, it was hot, people are just over it, etc. I don’t think there were less people because some of the people that were for protecting Caven Point last time are now against protecting Caven Point, but I didn’t have time to conduct an official survey. I think it was just people being people. And not showing up. That’s a people thing.

But the people that DID show up were great and there were a few really awesome speeches from some great NJ folks. I’ll share with you my notes:

Sam Pesin, President of Friends of LSP – “We’ll get started soon, you enjoy the sun!” I liked that nice little welcome.

Assemblywoman Annette Chaparro – “Some people can’t afford The Shore or Great Adventure and this park is that for them.” This was so beautifully Jersey and I couldn’t agree more.

I didn’t make proper note of who said this but I have the line, “In the dark halls of the statehouse…” in my notes and I think that was a clever dramatic device on someone’s part. Nice work.

“If you don’t show interest in politics, politics will stioll show an interest in you,” said Assemblyman Raj Mukherji. Also, “If they tried to do something like this in Central Park hell would freeze over. Why would we let it happen here across the river?!” YEAH.

Although he’s recently been a little questionable as far as likability in certain circles, circles that touch my personal circle as far as Jersey City society Venn Diagrams go, Mayor Fulop does say “Trenton” with a full-on NJ accent, “Tren-in,” like the “t” is silent, and that always makes me happy. And I’m sorry I guess. But I was glad he was there and for his support on this partcular issue at least. For now.

The mayor.

Ward E Councilman James Solomon appeared in an NJCU hat and I wrote in my notes he was “tryna be eyyyyy cool JC guyyyy,” emphasis my own. In the end he did reference the hat and also that he teaches at NJCU which I didn’t know so I guess I revoke my mean girl comment. Although I still haven’t forgiven him for the time when I used to live downtown and he knocked on my door and tried to engage me in some kind of political process when I was very hungover and clearly wearing my pajamas. That was too much for me. But I still like him, he’s doing good things. It’s fine. I’ll be fine. Ward E is Downtown, for your records.

I’d like to pause and say that Dancing Tony dutifully sanitized both mics and mic stands in between speakers. Thank you. HE RUNS FREAKIN FUN YOU GUYS.

New Jersey NAACP Armed Forces and Veterans Chair (and acting Environmental and Climate Justice Chair) Keith Bodden came out with a pile of literal hats (and a literal hat assistant man) to show all the different “hats” he has worn in his life and still wears now. I LOVED IT A TON YOU GUYS.

HATS!

I have in my notes that Frank Gilmore was the “best guy” but I guess I was tired at that point and I didn’t write down why. But just know that he freakin killed it.

A local 8th grade student came up and read a letter to the editor she wrote. She did a beautiful job and was very composed and well spoken, I felt proud! I got a little tearful when she brought up some things about the birds. You guys know I love birds. The whole time I was like, “maybe we need to make it less about the birds so people can’t tease us about the god damn birds,” but then I was like, “well…I do like the birds.”

Speaking of birds, Shayna Marchese also spoke a bit about the birds! She’s a photographer who takes AWESOME pics of birds in NJ. All birds all the time. I LOVE HER INSTAGRAM GO TO THERE. A TON of the birds she captures are within Liberty State Park and Caven Point specifically so you can really see what the area has to offer as far as nature, even in such an urban setting.

@shayna.marchese on Instagram GO NOW!

I don’t know when the next vote for the LSP Protection Act is, and I couldn’t find it online! I did find some information in all of the following locations, and I encourage you to check them out. I do think they will be updated once they have a date in mind.

Friends of LSP

Baykeeper of NY/NJ

BAYKEEPER + Good Boi

i had a budgie but it died.

Starting with a joke because I’m still really heartbroken about it. I had a budgie but it died.

Just like Murray, my budgie died. Also we don’t really call them budgies around here IN AMERICA but I think it’s a fun little name so I’m going to go with it.

A few months ago I wrote a post that we got a parakeet. We did! His name is Elvis. A few weeks after we got him, we got another parakeet and named her Stevie. In a true expression of the curse of the second child, I did not write a post about Stevie. So I’m going to write one in her honor now.

From the moment Stevie came to live with us I felt worried about her. For some reason I was nervous she would die. I never talked about it but in my mind she was always on the edge of death and I was constantly googling what could possibly be wrong.

It could have all just been in my head, like 99% of my problems, but she didn’t seem as strong and robust as Elvis. I know she was probably smaller because she was a girl, but there was more to it. She stood in kind of a slouchy position all the time. She often looked like she was breathing heavy or struggling to catch her breath. She came to us with dirty-looking wings and a tail feather that was all shredded up. Birds are supposed to preen their own feathers, so it seemed like she wasn’t taking care of herself properly. And I’m not 100% sure but I think a budgie’s long ass tail feather is supposed to really help with their balance, etc.

The first thing I thought when I saw her was “I can’t wait until she gets settled in and starts to thrive.” Budgies can live 15 years in captivity, and I was looking forward to the long haul. I wanted to be able to look back to the day we got her and say, “Look how far she’s come!”

Ugh. This really crushes me. But I felt like she DID get better. Her feathers started to look cleaner, and they also grew longer. She was talkative and alert. She actually yelled a lot. She made an angry bird screech that I’ve only heard Elvis do once or twice when he’s like REALLY PISSED. I thought it was a good sign she was so pissed. She had a zest for life!

Stevie also seemed like she was getting close to saying words. All of the YouTube videos I watch of budgies, and I watch a lot, include budgies speaking. And it’s cute as hell. But part of their warmup to speaking is like…robot sounds? And Stevie made a lot of robot sounds.

She was the only budgie in the family making any effort to say human words. And it was awesome. Her brother/roommate/boyfriend would just stand there and stare judgmentally. As he continues to do to this very day.

Stevie and Elvis also had a very sweet relationship that made me smile. She would yell a lot but often they would snuggle up together, clean each other’s feathers, and eat and drink together at the same time. At night after we would “put them to bed,” aka put a blanket over their cage, which is so much like “tucking them in” it makes me want to sob, they would make soft happy noises at each other for like 30 minutes before they fell asleep.

It makes me really sad to think about it now. I hope Elvis isn’t lonely.

I probably think about this too much.

The morning things started to go downhill for Stevie, she seemed really sleepy. Out of it. She sat in the food bowl and looked tired. She moved to a perch and kept kind of falling asleep and then flapping when she started to fall off the perch and woke herself up. I reached in to have her hop on my finger to check on her and she didn’t put up a fight. She wasn’t really trained yet so she would usually hop away, but this time she just hopped on my finger and kind of relaxed. Something was wrong.

I left to go to a barre class and brunch because I may be a weird bird lady but I’m still basic AF. When I returned home, conditions hadn’t improved. I started to panic and desperately sought advice from the internet. I came across a very helpful site called Just Answer. It seems silly but they had live people to chat with and I was able to talk to a vet that could advise some things to do. When it got to a point that I couldn’t find an actual avian vet to go to, the chat vet found an emergency care place in Hoboken that had a vet with some experience with birds.

The vet visit was going to cost $150 or more and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to pay for it. Because I’m poor. But the chat vet also sent me information about veterinary care financing options. Like get it now pay for it later. I love to pay for it later! And get it now!

We loaded Stevie up and called an Uber. And went to Hoboken.

The vet was very kind. We had to drop Stevie there and leave her for a bit, because COVID, so we went to an outdoor bar. I was really upset. I drank a watermelon vodka drink. I felt more upset.

They gave Stevie oxygen and fluids, and recommended that she stay overnight. I thought that sounded fine until they said it would be $1300. There was no way. Vet care is so expensive. I won’t say that they took advantage of us or anything like that, I think this is just the way it is. They let us know that even if she stayed they couldn’t say it would even really help. They were very kind and helpful, and even gave her more fluids and a beak and talons trim, free of charge.

Not sure she really had “talons” but that’s the only word I can think of.

In the end they chalked it up to “respiratory distress.” Which a bird can fall victim to for no less than one million reasons. So we still have no idea why.

We took her home, to meet her fate. In the Uber on the way, she uttered her last little chirp of her short adorable life.

We kept her in a separate cage from Elvis in case it was contagious. She was covered for peace and darkness. She had food and water, and a heating pad to keep her warm. For little birdies it goes downhill fast and I felt like it was only a matter of time.

Not a good sign 🙁

Stevie only lived another 24 hours or so. The end was hard. I cried a lot. I felt really helpless. I knew she was dying and I didn’t know if she was scared and wanted company or wanted to be alone. It’s not clear what a budgie would prefer. Even google didn’t really know.

After she died I kept crying. For at least a week. I felt really overwhelmingly, unreasonably, unbearably sad. I couldn’t stop crying.

It felt strange, to feel so sad about a pet. And not even one I’d known that long. I just couldn’t feel better about the fact that I’d let her down. That I couldn’t pay to try to make her better. That I didn’t get to see her live and grow and thrive. Or learn words.

She used to love her bowling toy. Elvis doesn’t really care about the bowling toy and it makes me so sad, seeing the bowling toy still and silent.

Not interested in the bowling toy. Or any toy.

I had to do a lot of googling to find support for my unbearable sadness. As always I sought solace in commiseration. I tried to find other people that were uncontrollably sad about a pet’s death. And I did! The internet is a beautiful place. It helped me to heal. And I’m grateful for it every day. And I don’t care how bad some people think it is. It has everything we need.

Stevie currently is in our freezer. It’s a makeshift bird morgue. If that’s wrong, I don’t want to be right. She’s wrapped in tissue paper, in a small cardboard Madison Reed box, also wrapped in plastic. I’m 80% sure it’s perfectly sanitary. She’s awaiting an epic Viking funeral, when we find the right place.

I just wanted to share all of that, to commemorate her. Thanks for reading. I love you little Stevie, Rest In Peace.

notable animal residents of jersey city: canada geese.

It’s possible you refer to these notable animal residents of Jersey City as “Canadian” geese. It’s actually “Canada” geese, if you want to be a dick about it.

I want to be a dick about it.

Canada geese are everywhere, in Jersey City and across the whole state and also in New York and Pennsylvania and possibly beyond that. They have taken over this land. And unlike their human countrymen they are mean as hell.

Beyond outraged.

They use the bathroom all over everything. The sidewalks, the roads, the grass. Our high school sports fields were fully defiled by them. I used to have to do cartwheels and back handsprings through through those fields. DO YOU THINK I LIKED PUTTING MY HAND ON GOOSE SHIT BY ACCIDENT BECAUSE I DIDN’T.

Some places (ahem, Brooklyn) have resorted to hunting them with dogs. They have literally released the hounds. Or maybe it was like sheep dogs? These geese got straight up Lassie-ed. If by “Lassie-ed” you mean ripped to shreds by a carnivore.

Okay after I looked this up I found that the Lassies and the actual killing of geese were two separate things. In 2009 geese in Prospect Park were capture and killed by gas and thrown in a dump. Which is heartbreaking and way less badass than a noble death by a natural predator. I’m pretty sad about it.

The problem is, they ARE invasive. Like they always were around some of the time, but only when they were migrating. Then one day they were like “omg we honkin’ heart the tri state area let’s stay FOREVS.” And then they did.

And honestly, I love them. I love them like I love all birds and all animal life that can thrive within a city, because seeing that animal life makes me happy.

But they ARE straight up dicks. They are PISSED OFF. They DO NOT LIKE YOUR TONE. Mostly I think they don’t want people by their babies and/or nests but they act like dicks even when it’s not baby season.

K see ya.

Speaking of baby season, it’s baby season now! These cuties! For a couple of weeks every spring, Jersey City residents forget how annoyed they are by Canada geese and they turn into local celebs.

They march their little families all around the town – through Newport Green, across the whole length of Liberty State Park, in a murky puddle on Marin Ave. They’re everywhere! I don’t really know their habits for sure but they seem to be in committed couples and sometimes the parents have two batches of chicks with them that are two different ages. This seems like a bold family planning strategy for a goose couple to take on and I salute them.

For the past couple of days I have been practicing this camera and taking pictures of my Canada goose pals. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do. If not I don’t know what to tell you.