Wounded birds

Dead tree supporting life
Dead tree supporting life

I almost drove past this dead tree without stopping to take a picture. I have been down that road many times, but I suppose it was the first time I was driving west rather than east. In the past I must have gone past it and never saw it. I’m glad that I saw it this time.


Wounded birds is my new private name for many of the people with whom my wife Cindy associates. I suppose that it isn’t a private name since I’ve shared it here, but anyway I chose that name because they are all damaged in some way (who among us isn’t), and because they often flock around her. To be sure, the wounded birds have sub-species. There are the magpies, the ravens, and the cuckoos among others. There have been a few peacocks and peahens, but not many. There are also the oxpeckers (you’re on the Internet, look it up).

Cindy often brings an oxpecker into our life when she wants some form of labor done around the house. They almost always finish the project, and occasionally they do a good job. With the exception of plumbing, Cindy will always prefer to hire one of these wounded birds rather than a professional. She feels good about it, and they earn some money.

One of the first she brought in was there to wallpaper our bedroom. We bought the wallpaper and all of the supplies. He only had to come to the house and ply his skill. At the end of the first day he hadn’t completed the job, but wanted to be paid. Rather than take a chance on him not returning, Cindy only gave him a partial payment in cash. Oh yes, the oxpeckers only work for cash. They don’t want any kind of paper trail that might give the government the idea that they have had taxable income, or that their benefits will be compromised. Anyway, he proceeded to take the money and get drunk. When he returned the next day he was so hung over that he could hardly work. But he completed the job and left with the rest of his pay. We were glad that the job was done, though the design on the paper wasn’t always lined up properly with the adjoining sheet. That didn’t matter the next morning, because when we woke up, the wallpaper was drooping off of the walls.

Since then we have had oxpeckers do yard work, painting, clean the gutters and most recently shingle the covering to part of our deck. Sometimes they do things they make me shake my head in wonder. Last autumn Cindy had one come to help clear the leaves from our yard. I thought that I was doing an adequate job with the nifty new leaf blower that I had purchased, but evidently not. This fellow, like some of the others, brought his girlfriend/wife along to help with the work. I let him use my new toy, and they did a good job. As most of you know, all of the leaves don’t come down at once, so clearing the yard is an ongoing process, not a one-off. When it got near the end of the leaf clearing season, I changed the attachments on my toy and turned it into a leaf sucker so that I could chop and bag the leafs to be set on the curb for pickup. Well, the oxpecker came back with his significant other to do one last yard clearing sweep. They changed the implement back into a blower and blew the remaining leaves into the gutter for the city to pick up. The only trouble with doing that is they blew the leaves five days before the sweeper was due to come through, and the leaves had blown back into our yard long before sweeping day. Plus they just stuck the blower in a corner of our garage when they were finished. I shook my head.

Just a few more things about male oxpeckers. 1) They have trouble with the first name of another male. Cindy always introduces me by name, but they invariable think it is more proper to call me Bub, Buddy, or Man. Whatever happened to Sir or Mr. Houseman. Occasionally one will use my first name, and that is OK, if rare.

2) Arriving on time, if at all, and working until the job is complete almost never happens. For people who don’t have a steady job, they are quite cavalier about punctuality and┬ástick-to-itiveness. This might well explain one reason why they don’t have a steady job.

3) They come in two varieties, those who are silent and those who like to talk…and talk…and talk. I prefer the silent type. The talkers make me want to hide in the basement. It is actually quite cozy down there. I speak from experience.