Friday, January 9, 2009

That PomPom Is Squeaking

I have a parrot. His name is Harry. He's an Amazon Lilac Crown, which is a South American sort that is mostly green with coloured trim; he's generally a pretty cheerful wee guy. He's about a foot tall, with bright brass pirate eyes. He has cobalt blue and scarlet on his wings, and lovely maroon and lilac feathers on his head and neck.

Different parrots have different temperments. African Greys tend to be dignified and reserved; cockatoos are insanely affectionate and emotionally dependent. Amazons are happy little thugs; clowns and con artists.
Harry sings Rule Britannia, yells all kinds of odd things at random ("Oh no!", "I don't knooooow ..." "Popcorn?") and meows incessantly. And he loves my knitting. You may think cats are a problem with knitting, but I guarantee they're nothing on a parrot. Parrots have hands. They are very, very smart, perfectly capable of lying to get close to your work, and fiendishly determined. And all the cunning toys we use in our knitting are just irresistable!

Harry is a free bird, not caged until he goes to bed at night; when I am sitting on the couch knitting, he can wander over at will to examine my work. He likes to groom finished projects: he holds them his little 4-toed dragon foot and lovingly runs his beak and tongue through the stitches. Parrots don't slobber, but sometimes he gets carried away and tries to bite through an interesting stitch: he can unravel a scarf in no time. He likes to play with strands of yarn - he'll wind one around his foot, then carefully untangle it - over and over, which is kind of awkward if you are trying to knit with it at the time. He likes to suddenly pounce on a ball of yarn, and go rolling around in my lap, kicking and biting it like a predatory dinosaur.

It's hilarious to watch, but I am in constant danger of knitting him into something. "Um - you know that hat I promised you? Well, there's kind of a big lump in it and it's singing .... just ignore it." Yeah, right.

Harry thinks the shiny stitch markers in my knitting must be candies. I use a knitter's rosary to count rows - the cord and glass beads are a constant temptation to an interested little parrot, and he will maneuver patiently for the chance to grab it in his beak and run away with it. (Luckily, it usually trips him.) But what he really, really wants are my knitting needles. I prefer to knit with wood needles - Harry likes nothing better, personally, than to chew some nice piece of wood to bits. And I seem to have all these lovely sticks that I am clearly not chewing ... he'll saunter casually across my lap two or three times, ostentatiously ignoring my needles - and then, POW! He'll grab a needle and run with it, trying to drag it clean out of the fabric and carry it off to his lair.

Much screaming, yelling and indignant meowing results from this. (I carry on a bit, too.) Then I have to buy him off with a walnut and neck-scratching before he forgives me. But before long, I'll feel his feet on my shoulder again, and his bright-eyed little face is leaning round my cheek while he asks: "Whatchya doin'? Huh? Whatchya doin'?"

And we're off again.

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