Sunday, August 17, 2014

Safe Travels - A Story of the NSFW Pet


As I make the long drive back to work this afternoon, a story from Barkleys' new blog on the many different kind of pets that people may have and the surprises they can bring.   Enjoy. - B.
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 I wanted a pet of my own though. A dog was out of the question, as much as I  was on the road, but somewhere in my young journeys, I inherited a bird. The sister of a a pilot friend needed a home for the young bird after her divorce. It was just a little Cockatoo. They're like budgies on steroids right? How much trouble could he be? Being a dual science and criminology major I  had named him "Beaker". He was a pretty personable little bird and easy for others to care for when I was out flying, sometimes gone for a far stretch of time.. They're smart, normally learning to talk.  Not this bird. I had inherited mute bird. I tried all the tricks, repeating things over and over, rewards, repetition. Nothing ("No no he's not dead, he's, he's restin'! Remarkable bird, the Norwegian Blue, idn'it, ay? Beautiful plumage!")

This bird was not "restin" he just would NOT talk. Not even a "hello".

Then one night I had a get together on a little  houseboat I rented near my parents for my time off.  It wasn't a real boat, just a tiny bungalow on floats with a tiny kitchen, living room and bath with shower as well as a small  windowed loft with a ladder upstairs where I had a mattress on the floor and could tuck myself into at night.  I loved living out there, the only houseboat in the marina, enjoying the quiet and the lap of the waves against my little home.  (We won't mention the time there were two hippie girls out getting a bit tipsy on a boyfriends boat docked out in the shallows while he was away and I put on a Creature of the Black Sea Lagoon mask and rowed out right at dusk and scratched on the hull and pressed my face to the glass, making my escape as someone squealed and dropped the bottle of Chardonnay).
This night, it was just a few pilot friends, who were as close as brothers though we didn't share the same last name. There are certain lines of work where the bonds between coworkers is more than just coworkers and such it is with airmen.

Civilian or Military, we  remember. We remember Calgary and Cold Lake, Travis and Tuscon. We remember Phoenix, and Philadelphia, Kallispell and Kabul. We've delighted in the perfect clarity of a cold New Mexico sky and remember that late night mambo down an ice slicked runway in Chicago. My Dad's generation and mine began on round gauges, and round engines. for which starting was an artistic endeavor requiring holy curse words and sometimes meditation.

Those that fly now, may have been raised on the technology of the wi fi age, but those of us there that night understood outdated fire equipment, short runways, poor lighting, and cranky crew chiefs.

All of us have relished the cheerful warmth of the coffee in Vancouver and and the pause of an ice cold beer in Denmark. We recalled the icy winds of winter and the soaring thermals of a glider port in June. We spoke as if old lovers of the DC-6 for which landing was not so much a meeting with the earth but a ballet of finesse, prayer, body English and nerve.

We've all had days where we'd have rather have been anywhere else but tired, hungry and on at least one occasion, shot at. But there's the beauty- the quiet mornings as the sun peeks over the horizon on that early flight to the east coast, the beautiful surroundings of a fog draped landscape below. It's evocative and inspiring and sometimes, despite the early, early showtime, the joy of it all reaches out and grabs on to us. And despite the occasional bone weariness and the constant change of the job itself, the happiness takes hold. The happiness is like nothing else we experience, not even the wonderful sanctuary of family, and it grabs hold of us and shakes us like a playful puppy. And we can't imagine being anyplace else or with a different group of comrades.
So these pilots, my brothers, gather, and we gather like family. We grilled, sat out on the deck and had a couple beers. Beaker was in high form, sitting on folks shoulders, mutely walking across the room (he could fly, he just chose NOT to), getting some treats fed to him.

Little did I know that by morning Beaker was going to be talking, and not in a way I had planned.

For the rest of the story, visit The Book of Barkley - The Blog

6 comments:

  1. At the old Denver Stapleton airport, around 1970, an African Grey parrot was being shipped as air freight. He came in on an afternoon flight, but wasn't going out until the next day. To keep him warm, he was brought into the office area where bored freight handlers spent the next twelve hours adding to his vocabulary. Bet the owners were surprised.

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  2. Old NFO - it was pretty hilarious at the time, though not later when he tried out his new language skills as people went by in boats. I've had several pairs of parakeets over the years (Mom always had one and would train them to ride on her shoulder while she walked around the house). Mine were Fred and Wilma, Orville and Wilbur but Beaker was my first and only cockatoo. When I quit flying full time, I got dogs, and never looked back.

    Well seasoned fool - oh, I can only imagine. . hahahahaha

    I arrived safely, though due to accidents and a stop to collect and sign books mailed it was a bit of a trip.

    Ken and Steve, your autographed books will be dropped off by my friends who are letting me use their mailbox and will go out with Tracking. Ken I had to leave your nice note with them for the address. I'll get it later and drop you a line.

    And be forewarned, I have awful handwriting, but I did my best!

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  3. I was sitting in my yard tonight enjoying a cigar and heard the oddest chatter going on. I finally went in search of it and found a neighbor about 75 yards up the road sitting out with her Moluccan Cockatoo! What a beautiful bird and a real chatterbox!

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  4. I just added "The Book Of Barkley" to my amazon order. I have to finish OldNFO's book first ;)

    Stay safe Brigid

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I started this blog so the child I gave up for adoption could get to know me, and in turn, her children, as well as share stories for a family that lives too far away. So please keep it friendly and kid safe. Posts that are only a link or include an ad for an unknown business automatically to to SPAM..