Monday, July 25, 2016

Summer is in full bloom..and so are Ollie's feathers!

Yay! Yay...and double yay!  Ollie has been leaving his feathers along.  Except for the feathers that haven't exactly grown back on his back and neck, he now has a real tail for balance PLUS feathered wings that can break falls!  Of course, it has been SOOOOO long since Ollie has actually flown, he doesn't really remember he can do that.  It is just going to be something he could instinctively do in an emergency.  Which, of course, we hope never happens....but just in case.  The boy could actually fly if he tried.

Ollie's injured leg has probably healed as much as it will be healed.  We are just waiting to see his vet some time next month for a 6 month re-check.  Ollie has not been back in his big play cage since the accident and, we aren't really sure he will ever be safe in it with a compromised grip.  So, we may wind up putting it up for sale.  It is a large Kings cage, in great shape and not exposed to any disease or anything.  I'll let you all know the status after we meet with the vet....

In the meantime, Ollie is having a blast playing low down on the floor.  He is back to climbing on his toy drawer and playing with (and tossing) all his favorite toys....which, as you can see, are all dog toys.   This is because Ollie thinks he is one of the Border Collies. He isn't really interested in the other two drawers FILLED with bird toys appropriate for medium sized parrots that chew and forage and do parrot things.  Nope.  He prefers toys that squeak or are squishy...especially toys he has already seen the dogs playing with. He has his versions, however, that the dogs are not allowed to touch. He can sit on the drawer or in the small travel cage and squeak a toy for hours.  (It drives Maggie crazy....hee...hee...hee....)

Friday, May 13, 2016

More Feathers and More Healing!

Ollie's dislocated knee has been steadily healing and he can now perch higher off the cage bottom, grasp with his left foot and also climb up the metal gate.  When he reaches the top, however, he is still a bit unsteady so it is crucial he is supervised at all times whenever he is having "floor time" with his toys.  Because he wants to climb onto his toy drawer and then jump back off to the floor, we always have a rubber mat beneath the open drawer whenever he is out playing.  And whenever we bring him from one location to another via human hand transport, we always place a thumb over his good foot to keep him from accidentally getting startled and instinctively leaping off. Re-injury is easy at this stage so the key is to anticipate anything and everything and prevent it.

Ollie's feathers have also been growing well this spring and coming in relatively undamaged.  We aren't sure why there has been so little feather damage but it might be from the fact he is more confined and cannot damage feathers while climbing about OR the feathers are just healthier because of all the dense nutrition we have been giving him to heal his injury.  Regardless, having all these great feathers on his wings and tail will give him better balance and reduce his chances of simply crashing to the ground (which is basically what caused the accident).

Patience is also crucial.  Since he is now used to the small dog crate for eating his meals and "hanging" with me when I'm in the computer office working on art files in Photoshop (which totally mesmerizes and entertains him for hours), I'm hoping he can be content watching me work on craft projects over the next few weeks from the confines of that cage instead of from his usual spot on a small (but wobbly) portable perch which I normally move from tight spot to tight spot as I move around the craft room doing my "mad scientist" creative frenzy.  There is usually nowhere to place a larger perch since creative frenzy also means all available space quickly turns into total chaos.

Time will tell.

As always, feel free to leave a comment!

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Prime Publishing Best Blogger Contest! #FaveCrafter

Ollie has been busy watching Mama craft.  In fact, two of my projects are now on the Prime Publishing FaveCraft site.  And...they are entered in a contest. A very competitive contest.  

This is where I could really  use your help!

Voting for the Prime Publishing Best Blogger Contest is now live but only for the next 5 days! Please vote for one or both of my projects (Mixed Media Embossed Decor....and further down Decoupaged Flower Pot Crafts) 

 PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE share with your friends and family!  #FaveCrafter, @FaveCrafter, #Sizzix, @Sizzix, #LeisureArts, @LeisureArts, #plaidcrafts, @plaid crafts, #Clearsnap, @Clearsnap

Here is the link to go for voting:

And you will get the full instructions for BOTH projects at this link! are photos to get you started....

Mixed Media Embossed Decor


Decoupaged Flower Pot

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Update on Ollie

As many friends have known, Ollie misjudged distance to climb onto my husband, fell and wound up with a dislocated elbow in his left leg.  It has been a very slow healing process but he IS making progress.  He is starting to put some weight on the injured leg but his grasp is still very weak.  Please keep Ollie in your thoughts, prayers and wishes......

The poor little green guy can't enjoy most of his normal activities, like climbing, foraging or playing. And he cannot currently hang out on his portable perches and enjoy watching me craft....

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Parrot Training for Safety

Most people envision life with a parrot as a life of mess and destruction, along with all the charming moments of singing tunes, dancing to music and other fun scenes as depicted in videos circulating via social media. While parrots are definitely capable of getting into major trouble when unsupervised and allowed to just follow natural instincts, it is actually good sense to give parrots safe environments, along with supervision and some guidance.  Human environments hold many interesting and colorful items that are tempting to chew or explore, such as electrical cords, outlet, computer keyboards, knives, scissors, and, in my case especially, glues, paints and other art supplies.  In addition to being costly when damaged, all of these items are dangerous for parrots to "play" with...but many people do not know how to curb their bird's natural instinct to explore.  Or don't realize that helping your bird to learn impulse control is actually for their own safety.

Did you know you can teach your supervised parrot the concept "leave it"?  It is done by using a training method called "capturing behavior".  When the bird touches an object you want them to touch or chew, praise them and use a word like "good bird touch" or "that's it" When they don't touch an object you want them to leave alone, also praise them but use a different phrase like "good boy, leave it" or "uh uh!"  You can also name objects /or associations the bird might already have learned like "uh uh knife ow!". Reinforce the good behavior with a small, high value treat....or immediately offer them an acceptable item to play with. 

When you praise, really ham it up so it is clear they did a good thing. And always be consistent.  If you don't want your parrot to be playing with knives, scissors, the tv remote or computer keyboard, don't allow them to play with them one day and the next try to tell them to leave it. 

Ollie can spend hours with me in my art room while I'm working on creative projects.  While he can't fly, he can certainly climb, walk and grab to get into major trouble if allowed the opportunity.  However, he has learned that when I say "uh" or "Ollie, hot", that means it will hurt him if he advances closer and/or touches that item.  In fact, if I tell him to leave it and then then bring that item close to him, he will actually back off to prevent it from touching him.  Obviously, it takes dedication and consistent repetition to teach this concept of "leave it" but it can save your bird from being injured or poisoned, as well as ending up with chewed up cell phones or cords, keyboards missing keypads and a whole host of items I'm always reading about from people whose birds have not learned this important skill.

Conversely, it is also important to give your parrot lots of safe items to explore and involve them in as much of your activities as practical.  Ollie is happiest when he is part of the crafting action and loves when I hand him bits of paper or other safe items to "beak" and chew.  Or give him a brand new soft dog toy complete with squeakers!  And, of course, a nut to nibble on is always welcome!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Winter has arrived in Chicagoland!

Winter arrived in January this year.  After the past two years of record breaking cold and snow, we are quite relieved in Chicagoland to be experiencing a moderate winter this year.  I'm sorry for other parts of the country that have been experiencing some crazy storms and record snowfall but.....I'm also very relieved we have had as much of a break as we have had.

Ollie is dealing much better this year with his feather barbering.  Perhaps the weather extremes triggered some of the past barbering...perhaps not.  No one actually knows what actually causes feather destructive behaviour.  I just know that it usually starts around the time when hours of daylight and the landscape outside changes.  Our recent extended autumn was a nice surprise...especially when the grass stayed green and herbs continued growing all the way throughThanksgiving and into mid December.

Even my sudden return mid January after being gone for an entire week at the Craft & Hobby Industry trade show didn't seem to phase Ollie one bit.  He was down to bare skin in part at the height of autumn's rapid end but his grey fuzzies now cover him and I am seeing an increasing number of new green pin feathers pushing their way out.  He has totally settled back into our normal routine, watching me create art on my computers and doing crafty stuff in my studio room.  These are his happy places and he seems very content as winter continues its path.

Today we celebrated by making home made chicken soup with celery, carrots, basmati rice, mushrooms...and parsley from the garden.  The amazing part is I froze the parsley less than a month ago!

I may not bake or do gourmet type cooking with lots of spices and exotic techniques, but I can whip up a pretty good soup, stew or salad!  Since veggies are my favorite foods, they are always the basis of whatever I make.  Sans onion or garlic, of course, since I am allergic to the allium family!  I can tolerate small amounts only such as the exposure from seasoning on the precooked chickens after skin is removed but no chopped onions or garlic for me!

Actually onions and garlic are not good for parrots so what I cook is usually pretty safe for Ollie!  And tonight he thoroughly enjoyed home made chicken soup!   His beak tells the story....

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Crafts, Crafts and MORE Crafts!

My oh my...where DID the time go between the last post and now?  Ollie can tell you.....
Mom has been crafting on full throttle!  And Ollie has been right there watching and learning.

Most people think of November through December as holiday season.  For those of us in the Craft & Hobby Industry (and also illustrators who license art on retail products,) November through December is actually "trade show prep time".  When the calendar changes to the new year, we are packing to fly off to the first of several trade shows that pepper our life from January through May.

Needless to has been nonstop creative!

Ollie LOVES whenever I do creative work.  He soaks up all the happy energy and is very interested in all the stuff that happens when I put on my "maker" role as a professional designer within the Craft & Hobby industry. Out come all the inks and glues and paints and all kinds of bright colorful STUFF! Amazingly, Ollie doesn't try to touch anything unless I give him the go ahead.  I'm ok with him playing with extra buttons and feeling felt and fleece and other safer items, but scissors, paint, glue and hot heat tools and glue guns are absolutely forbidden!

So, why would a curious parrot not want to be in the middle of all the creative chaos when I'm crafting?  The answer is actually simple.  He actually understands what "ow", "hot" and "don't touch" mean.  He has watched and listened and learned over the past 6 years of his life while we have trained and reinforced and commanded our dogs.  He experienced pain as a very young parrot when he had a freak accident that resulted in a chipped beak tip...and extreme pain.  "OW" has a very deeply ingrained unpleasant association. He also understands pain from our accidents and energy.  Hot food accidentally put in his bowl before it cools down enough also taught lessons about "hot"...and reinforced that meaning of pain.

Because he trusts and respects pain, he is allowed to enjoy hours of watching me create.  The reward reinforces why he should respect my telling him to NOT touch NOT climb onto the crafting table...and to NOT grab something from my hand.

Ollie is my  true crafting buddy.   And a smart little parrot!

Do you have someone that is with you when you work on creative projects?