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Everything is going fine and I believe we are steered where we are meant to be. Gilbert has had a couple of days of love/hate interactions with me, but he is getting back to his sweet little ole self. He is talking a LOT more than usual. He has been regaling me with raucous laughter and deep "good morning" greetings this morning. When I come in the door from being out for groceries or whatever, I call out "Honey, I'm home" and Gil has been saying "I home". He has almost got the whistling of the William Tell Overture segment down pat. While I was gone, I would call home and the answering machine is on speaker, so I would whistle his tune. My kids say he would make the phone ring sound and whistle and they knew the message was for him and not for them. LOL Apparently while I was away the dogs barked too much for his liking and he has been telling me all about it. He barks in sharp little yaps and then says "Hey!" or "Quiet". Hahaha. I just love his little ways. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. Gilbert may be traveling soon and we will keep up on his adventures. He is not actively plucking, but he has a posture of curling up on his favorite rope perch at this door and I think that is when he is "holding" his feathers and worrying them out rather than actually plucking. The last place his fluff was being replaced with little feathers was his right thigh and that seems to be just where his beak lands when he is curled up. He has not plucked himself bald, just to the fluff. We learned something this time and hopefully can figure out how to keep him feeling secure. The general consensus at home is that no plucking was observed until we had some big storms just before I was driving back. Sarah did tell me he was unnerved by storms after living on the gulf coast through a few hurricanes. So, it does make sense that would be a contributing factor. He has been telling me over and over "Gilbert okay". So I think he is reassuring himself as well as keeping in contact with me through the day.

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Thank you Karen.  It takes me a lot longer to do regular things and I tire easily but just as Gilbert's progress has been slow and is a game of two steps forward, one backward, onward and upward we tr

Yeah, that's not a game you want to start.  They will "play" for hours after you have stopped, believe me, I know.  We're still working on a certain sound extinguishing around here and, while progress

Hey, how are you feeling these days?  Is Gilbert taking good care of you?

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Bless your heart for being there for a close friend when they truly need someone to "Lean On" for help and encouragement.

 

I think you have the situation with Gilbert figured out and he will be just fine through this. The most important thing you have given him is a loving home with tons of encouragement and a stimulating stable environment for him to blossom in.

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One thing I love is that even though Gilbert prefers me, everyone else is working hard trying to win him over, caring about him and taking my place when I couldn't be here. My husband offered to drive half way which is eight hours one way, to bring Gilbert to me if I needed to stay longer. Once I got back though, Gilbert has been uncooperative toward the advances my daughter and husband made with him. It shows he is capable of having more than one human bond in our family and has given them hope for a closer relationship with him. It means a lot to have their support as well as all of you here. I anguished every day wondering what Gilbert would think of my absence. I was originally planning to go up for a weekend wedding and I practiced with Gilbert to leave him for a weekend and come home again and he was fine. This turned out to be longer and Java and my other pets have experienced each family member leaving and returning so they had no issues. I am not sure it was my absence that upset Gil, more of a change in his routine and I am tuned in so close that I know what he wants at any given time and the rest of my family isn't as tuned in to him. They are trying hard, it just seems automatic between Gil and me from the first day, I can't really explain, but it brings tears to my eyes to think about what he means to me.

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Ahhhh, life is good again. Gilbert is quickly back to his sweet little ole self again. I offered to bring him to the quilt group meeting downstairs yesterday and he came down and regaled the ladies with his wolf whistles and his chatty little self. Usually he will go down and sit on his perch and only offer up a cracker request if he hears any signs of someone getting a snack. LOL. Although it is hard to know for sure, I think he picked up some new words while I was away. Sometimes in the early morning when he is wanting me to get up, he calls out "Night night?" in a question, lately he is saying "Good Morning" in a kind of garbled way that makes me think he is learning something different. I usually come to him first thing and say "Good morning sunshine". One thing for sure that did not come here from another place is that our little dog Mick will bark more that Gilbert thinks is necessary and he says "Stop it Mick!" He also mocks his sharp little yaps and then laughs at him. In the beginning Gil would say "C'mon Bud" when it was time to take the dogs out, now as often as not he asks the dogs "Wanna go outside?" It is all fine and good when I am heading to the door in response to the dog ringing the cowbell, but when Gilbert solicits them to go out and I am not there, it gives them the idea and then I have to take them out twice as often. Gilbert claims he is only looking after my weight loss program, LOL.

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This has been our best morning ever. Gilbert awakened about an hour earlier than usual and decided I should be up too. First I heard him go through all his usual phrases. Then I heard a new voice, a light hearted feminine voice saying "good morning sweet bird". That made me really happy. Regardless of where he has been, I hear some of the sweetest things from him so I know he was well loved at every stop even though the loss of that loved one caused him grief. I heard many new things that I wish I had recorded because it was prolific, the floodgates have opened! Then, he was saying "night night?" in a pleading tone he uses in the morning because he wants me to get up. I usually laugh and talk to him from my room and tell him it is not time to get up yet. Then, he said in a course, demanding voice "Quit Night Night!" I know he was demanding to to get out of my bed, so I did. Hahahaha. I can not describe adequately how it felt to lay in there listening in awe at the things he was saying. He is so adorable.

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All things considered Gilbert doesn't look too bad and his attitude is great. Well come to think of it, that photo of his foot was taken on my first day back and it could be considered an attitude if that is a parrot's version of an unpleasant gesture. LOL.

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Maybe going away was not such a bad thing. Gilbert has had a busy week of growth. He has been clearly saying the name of one of our dogs, Mick. It is always a command, "quiet Mick", "stop it Mick" so I do know who was the naughty one while I was gone. LOL. Also, usually when the dog goes toward the front door, Gilbert goes through his "c'mon Bud" or "go outside?" and he will usually tell me before the dog has a chance to ring the cowbell. Now though, the bell rings and Gilbert calls out "Coming" which is just what we do when we hear one of the dogs at the door. He is really picking up the rhythm of our household. He went back to his old ways of being standoffish to my husband and daughter now that I am home and they are suggesting I leave him with them again because they liked that progress. He actually bit me yesterday because my daughter was standing close when I scratched his head, the little pip. Later in the afternoon, I mentioned how dusty he looked and that we should try a bath. I was again amazed that he went to his water dish and started trying to get it splashed up. We had such a fuss the last time I sprayed him that I was letting him get more secure, but since he took the initiative, I got a different kind of spray bottle, much smaller and tried it again. He definitely was annoyed, but didn't act as frightened this time, so I sprayed gently and let him climb all over and still stuck with it and sprayed until he was completely soaked. He spent his time preening but was accepting this time of his shower. Later he looked so lovely that I will start with once a week spraying with aloe and hopefully that will help his feathers come back in more comfortably. He took it in stride and didn't seem to hold it against me or go on a hunger strike this time. It needs to be done and I am relieved to make progress on this battle.

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Our mornings have gotten progressively funnier as Gilbert is refining his demands. He started with the "Quit night night", went to "wanna come out?" and "coming" trying to entice me to come out of my bedroom yet an hour sooner every day. I know it should be annoying, but I still can't resist his sweet calls in the morning. He sings in a lilting voice "Good morning sweet bird" LOL I started a healthy new habit for myself making steel cut oats overnight in the rice cooker and have hot crunchy "porridge" with a touch of maple cream. I stand in front of Gilbert's cage and share our first bite of the day. (Of course I give some to the reigning queen Java, but she does not like to eat off a spoon. Gilbert loves this new routine and he would like it to get started a little sooner every day. The progression from sweet nothings and cuteness turned to a short and to the point "Get up!" today. LOL I should not indulge him but once I hear him I am ready to get up any way. Before long though, we may have to go to having sleep cages that can be covered so I decided when it is wake up time rather than him. Someone recently said it would not be all lollipops and sunshine. We had a bit of a rough patch last night. He has been moodier since my return home but we had gotten back to him asking for a quiet little snuggle on my knee before bed. Maybe it was our earlier wakeup call but last night I wasn't sharply focused on watching his body language. One second he was having a head scratch, all curled up, his eyes closed, savoring the moment. The next nanosecond and he had taken his first real bite on my fingertip. I won't get graphic on you, but I am grateful at least that the tip of his beak was on the soft underside of my finger rather than the fingernail. He was startled by something or he just darn well felt aggravated. I left him on the arm of the chair long enough for some ice and first aid. When I returned he was sweet and accomodating to get a lift back to his cage and within a heartbeat he was saying sorries and he certainly softened my heart but it didn't take the sting out of my finger. I know this is part of the territory and I am not holding it against him. There is something about my memory that forgets the bad parts and although I learn new strategies, it doesn't create an atmosphere of fear or rejection. He gets over it in moments and so do I for the most part. He is older and very subtle and advanced in his body language and I am still on a steep learning curve.

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We both forgive and move on quickly. Best not to forget and have a repeat, but it certainly won't be the last bite. You just never know, the next bite might be me biting him. LOL. Not hardly, but the thought has entertained me at an appropriate moment. LOL. He is a sweetheart with a smidgen of wickedness and I loved him before I ever met him and it only gets better.

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It is time for some new photos, soon I promise. Tonight as I was getting ready to go to bed, I had fallen asleep on the sofa so our routine was not our usual. Gilbert was protesting by hanging upside down in his cage and chatting. He reminded me of when we had toddlers and they were trying to stave off their bed time by asking for another story, another song, another drink of water, anything to stay up a few minutes longer. I tried just turning the lights off but it is complete darkness and I was concerned he would fall trying to get down after I went to bed. So I would turn off a light in the living room but leave one on in the hall and peek in to see if he had gotten on his night roost. It went on for at least ten minutes until he finally got settled. When I climbed into bed I remarked to my husband that Gilbert was hanging upside down making funny comments. My husband was quick to quip, "Maybe he is a vampire, thus those bites lately." The joke is on me, now I can't sleep with a vampire in the next room, LOL.

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I love those pictures of Gilbert at the top of this page, his feathers look so rich and he has the 'profile' of some great hero or intellect from bygone ages. He's a beautiful boy! Even when he's feisty and/or more disagreeable sometimes, he obviously has a heart of gold and I just love reading about how his life is blooming with yours--so wonderful! Please give a kiss or a scritch or something to your sweet boy from Marcus and myself! :)

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Lol - I have a half bat-bird too! Loving the updates Dee - This is the only thread that has me in tears one minute and laughing the next! So sorry to hear about your friends Mum - God bless you for being there for her, and your family for being there for you, taking care of your babies when you had to depart suddenly.

"Quit night night" had me laughing so hard there were tears in my eyes!!! That is one incredibly smart bird you have there. So happy for you. xx

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We are on the road. I am returning to be with family through this illness and brought Gilbert along. My husband came along with me to help with Gilbert and then he flew back. Gilbert is a real trouper and sweet travel companion. I would usually drive the whole distance in a day but a thousand miles is a long time for my little copilot to clench a perch so we stopped for the night. Gilbert was a good boy. One picture is of him jumping on the bed, I spread out his favorite red fleece blanket and boy was he glad to be off that perch to rest his weary little feet. The next morning I asked my husband about the pet policy and how much it cost extra to bring our boy in. I should have known, he said it is easier to seek forgiveness than permission in a time such as this without preplanning. Oh dear. So, I thought it best to cover Gil's cage with the fleece and put my luggage on top and just pull him out to the car quick like a bunny before we were caught. Well, the blanket came off the cage floor about two inches. I heard him saying "Whazzit?" a couple of times when is is puzzled. Then I looked down and saw his face at the floor of the cage, trying to peer out. He caught my eye and in a very loud voice he said "WHAT are you DOING?" The timing and inflection was perfect. Indeed, what in the world was I doing.

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Day two of our trip as we were in mid Ohio, Gilbert was getting too warm in the car, so I stopped off at a PetSmart and gave him a little change of scenery. I also wanted to get him some millet and other healthy snacks. I stopped to get a package off the shelf and when it crackled, he regaled the other customers with a " 'S that a cracker?" As we headed back out the door he called to the kids behind us "Bye bye, see ya later." He seems to know what to say and when to say it. The final hour of our trip is a really rough stretch of highway. Gilbert was most secure holding a concrete perch and I just felt it was necessary to give his feet a rest, I was afraid he would have abrasions if I just let him bounce around back there. I wanted to stop, get him out, move the concrete perch and then get him back in on a rope perch to see if that would be better for him. We had a deadline for a plane to catch and we had already stopped several unscheduled times to give Gil a rest, so my husband suggested we just pull off an exit and arrange things and get back on. Well, Gil wouldn't come out of his cage. So, I asked David to get out of the car in case he was reluctant to get out with David so close to me. He obliged and I had my hands full getting Gil out and getting things arranges. When I looked out the window, there was a state police officer talking with David. Uh oh. Thank goodness he was just stopping to see if there was anything he could do to help and my dear husband said "just don't scare the parrot and we will be just fine"... Oh heavens. He still loves Gilbert even when he has to be inconvenienced and he always keeps his sense of humor. I couldn't ask for more.

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I knew this was going to be too much to catch up to put in one post. Gilbert is doing very well here. We are staying with a friend and he is welcome and being enjoyed very much. I am feeling a bit of a rebel. I put Gil in his cage and snuck him into the hospital room for a really quick visit. It really brightened Martha's day and gave me a moment to make her laugh at the audacity. It is a very small hospital in a very small town. Wouldn't you know the doctor walked in at that moment. We have not seen him in the room in a week, but of course when I was breaking the rules, in he came. Gil's flaps were down and I was just praying for him to be silent. The doctor's pager went off and I was sure we would hear an echo, but Gilbert was quiet as a little church mouse. I made a break for the door and got right out of there before we caused an uproar. There will not be any more of this subversive parrot maneuvers. He is happy to be here with me and it gives all of us more choices to do whatever comes next. Everyone is willing to take turns helping with the bird or the patient and we are making it work. Gilbert has a way of bringing laughter to all of us. I have been spraying him a bit every day and he is getting more tolerant of that. I will try to keep up but we have some busy days ahead and I have to make time for him. He is sitting on his little fleece blanket at my elbow and making clucking noises to beg for more head scratches. I am really proud of the way he has traveled and been such a sweetheart. He seems to be reveling in the attention and I tell him when I am leaving and returning so he seems to trust and know in different rooms and circumstances, I am leaving but always returning to him. He is a little quieter than usual but when he does pipe up and say something, it is spot on target for whatever we are doing in a new place. He continues to amaze me and be the center of my life. I worry about making changes or doing new things, but with an almond, a goldfish cracker and a scratch on the head and he is willing to do anything for me. What a guy. Thanks for all of you who are following our trail. I think we will have some adventures while we are here. He is tolerating a lot of things I would have thought might spook him but he is taking it in stride.

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Gilbert is entertaining and entrancing all our friends and relatives. He is also having a few meltdowns and has sniped at me for a bite or two. He has not been plucking so overall I think the good outweighs the bad and I am sure bringing him along was the best choice we have for now. The pictures are when he curls himself up coyly on the cage bars to lure me in for a scratch on the head... or to bite me and I never know which. This look, with his eye open, is the lure for a bite look. He will close his eyes when he is genuinely wanting to have a scratch on the head. He is such a clever little monkey.

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We are having some great times together. A couple of nights ago, I put him in his backpack and took him to visit my sister. He has been in the backpack a few times and I like it best because it has a screen to protect him from mosquitos when we are outside. Inside the house where he is protected, I will unzip the flaps and give him the freedom to come out onto the table perch if he likes, and he prefers to stay in the backpack. I also like the screen aspect because I can give him millet and other messy snacks and not worry about him flinging it around in someone else's home. When I picked up the backpack to go, I put the strap over my should to carry him carefully as I usually do when it slipped and he fell off his perch with the sudden motion. I talked to him as I was carefully moving the backpack to help him get oriented but when I put it down, the little magician had performed a disappearing act. Logically, I knew it was zipped, I checked it carefully, but when I saw it empty, I was sick for a second. Not to worry, Gilbert had reached up to find a small ring for hanging toys and he was gripping it and holding himself to his ceiling and was hiding. Now he doesn't want to get back into his backpack and I don't blame him a bit. He is more content and secure to be in his travel cage and he doesn't need to be carted around town if he is happier staying home. He is chatting happily in the room with me and I am coming in and out all day to make sure he isn't lonely. He seems to take all our travels in stride and I am relieved that he is here with me and he is feeling okay about it.

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