My son’s pet finches: love at first sight

Several months ago, after months of saving up (to prove he truly wanted them and it was not a passing fancy), my son got a pair of spice finches:



The cats watching closely as we adjusted the height of the cage until they could no longer reach it:


(They now have a bigger cage.  I’d like to get some close-ups, except that my stupid non-smartphone (an AT&T Z431 Gophone with smartphone-like features, but limited application) has stopped uploading pictures to Facebook for some unknown reason, and we don’t know where our camera has gotten to.)

When I first saw these two in the pet store, they were sitting on a perch, cuddled together.  We’re not sure if they’re mates, or two girls, or two boys.  But they do love each other and needed to be kept together–and, well, finches need to be in pairs, anyway, so they don’t waste away from loneliness.

Aside from the occasional argument over cleaning the cage today or tomorrow, my son has been pretty good about taking care of them.  It also helps that every day I write his chores down on a slate (old-fashioned slate with slate pencil, as used in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s time), and include bird chores.

Hubby doesn’t quite “get” wanting birds as pets.  But I do, because I had a canary as a child.

I don’t remember whose idea it was, just that one day my aunt took me to an Amish farm in Michigan, where we got the canary.  She said they were called “bad Amish,” because they had a truck parked out front.

But I saw the inside of the farmhouse: Except for no TV, radio or electricity, it looked like any other house.  The living room had a bunch of board games.  I forget if there was a phone or not.

(30 years does that to a memory.  It’s a shame I had to suspend writing about my childhood–an undertaking just like my college memoirs–when I got so morning sick I couldn’t even stand the smell of the computer.  Then I had a baby, and writing my memoirs got pushed aside….)

Anyway, I named the bird “Ralph-Elvis.”  The “Elvis” was for my mom, an Elvis fan.  The “Ralph” was for the main character on Greatest American Hero, an 80s show about an unlikely superhero, which I loved.  It also spawned a great theme song and #1 radio hit (the link also has scenes from the show).

And now, these two spice finches–named Sugar and Spice–bring their chatters, warbles and songs into our daily life.  Finches don’t sing like other birds: It’s more of a chattering, buzzing and squeaking.  But it is pretty just the same:

Song of the spice finch (Sugar and Spice love videos like this):

Reblog: “ObamaCare opposition group “Pray in Jesus Name Project” won’t let facts cure their blind stupidity!!!”

From the Democurmudgeon:

ObamaCare opposition group “Pray in Jesus Name Project” won’t let facts cure their blind stupidity!!!

Watch Dr. Gordon James Klingenschmitt make the “case” Obama actually reduced health care coverage in the U.S. since he took office, of course ignoring the Great Recession.

This false premise is used often by deceptive, running on empty Republican politicians, like when our own Scott Walker points job losses under the previous governor.

Another blog post from the Democurmudgeon:

As I’ve mentioned before, when Republicans brag about courage and principles, they’re really saying: We know what’s best, you won’t like it, so shut up.  We’ve got our principles.

It’s a familiar comment riding the very rightwing authoritarian wave spearheaded by the tea party….

Walker’s ghost written book, much like magical legislation authored by ALEC passing out of the Capitol, is a decidedly one sided view and revisionist screed meant to fabricate success around abject failure. —Surprise!  Walker Book Title Biggest Lie


WPR: Homelessness Down Nationally But Up In Wisconsin | Wisconsin Public Radio

Looks like Walker’s policies aren’t working so well after all–and cutting benefits to the poor is making things worse:

Homelessness Down Nationally But Up In Wisconsin | Wisconsin Public Radio.

“For those folks that really were at the lower end of the … socio-economic strata, they never really did recover. The jobs that have been created really didn’t cover those folks. As we know, there are a lot of folks that just have given up looking for work,” Schooler said.

Also see:
Under Scott Walker, Homelessness Increased a Dramatic 5.5%, while nation saw 4% Decline.

With thanks to former Gov. Jim Doyle’s efforts, Scott Walker’s first year in office saw the continued decrease in homelessness after the Great Recession. But since then, and under Walker’s austere policies to wean Wisconsinites off government programs, homelessness is rising to near Great Recession levels again. Real presidential stuff here.



Phil’s fake dreams lead to a terrible fight (Gaslighting, Bits of Abuse Here and There)–College Memoirs: Life at Roanoke–June 1994, Part 3

A letter from Pearl on the 13th spoke of an infection, and that she could have died from it.   (She has rheumatoid arthritis and kept having problems throughout college.)  But a hurting hip led her to go to her doctor, so that’s how he discovered it, and in time.

She had to deal with a tube in her neck and weeks of intravenous antibiotics, then oral antibiotics, and this meant no knee surgery that summer–so she’d still need crutches.  But at least she was alive!  (Still is, in fact.  🙂  )

Another letter I wrote to somebody said she was at Roanoke a bit during the summer, finishing up exams; this must have been why.  She was also supposed to do her writing and honors projects senior year, and wanted to work on them, just as I was.


Phil often acted out his dreams while sleeping, and spoke coherently, as I’ve described before.  One night while he worked at the Kirby job, he told me he wanted a little “wedded bliss” before he went to sleep.  So after he went to bed, I went over and nudged him to give him what he wanted.

I don’t want to recount this incident in full detail because it is still too disturbing; I don’t have to relive everything.  But he kept his eyes closed the whole time, which always told me he was asleep and acting out his dreams.

I kept saying I didn’t want his subconscious, but his real, awake self, yet he kept his eyes closed all the while, which showed me he was still dreaming.  His sleeping self got mean and childish, even sleepwalked.

I kept expecting him to wake up and start acting kind, except that his subconscious was forcing him to stay under, refusing to let the real, kind, awake Phil take over again.

I was frightened by and angry at his subconscious, telling him to go away so the real Phil could come back.

Then finally he opened his eyes.  In relief I said, “Oh, now you’re awake.  I thought you never would wake up!”  His rational self was back, not that jerk of a subconscious!

But then he said, “I was awake.”


“I was awake the whole time.”

I was confused, upset.  How could he have been awake and behaved in such a fashion?  How could he be awake and keep his eyes closed the entire time, even while walking?

But he said he wanted me to come to him!

Why didn’t he open his eyes and show me he was awake?  He was always talking in his sleep and acting out his dreams–How was I to know any different?

I felt cruelly tricked, set up by this evil charade.  All he had to do was open his eyes as soon as I nudged him, to show me he was awake!

I had directly called him Phil’s subconscious repeatedly, and repeatedly said I wanted the real, conscious Phil back.

He knew very well that keeping his eyes closed had always been a signal to me that he was talking in his sleep and acting out his dreams.

He knew very well that he had trained me to disregard anything he said while asleep, as being his subconscious and not the real him.

He knew very well that opening his eyes signaled to me that the dream was over and he was awake.

Then there’s all he said and did and yet kept his eyes closed the entire time (even going downstairs and making a huge amount of racket, so I feared he’d wake my parents).

So I do still firmly believe he kept his eyes closed on purpose to keep me thinking he was asleep, talking in his sleep, walking in his sleep, and his subconscious was doing it all, an episode of crazy-making me with something he knew quite well would fool me.

Especially since, a couple of months later, he finally admitted that he was awake every single time he acted out his dreams and talked in his sleep, that it was all an act!

As I’ve described in earlier chapters, he started doing this in February, and kept doing this until August.  (I describe these “dreams” all through these chapters.)

So he had me firmly convinced these were dreams, and in June, I was still under this gaslighting illusion, because he had not yet admitted the truth.

So to not open his eyes and show me he was truly awake, was diabolical, deliberately setting me up to act crazy and give him something to constantly remind me of–ie, gaslighting me.  This is a common tactic of abusers and narcissists, so they can deflect attention off what they’re doing to you, and call you the abuser.

I didn’t know all that, but I did want to tell him to go back to Wisconsin, that I was done with him.

After much anger, we finally got to talking and decided it was a misunderstanding, with him seeing how he contributed.  He saw he’d been a jerk about the whole thing, and that it wasn’t my fault; I believe he even apologized.

But for days or weeks after, he kept bringing up that night, as if he thought it was all my fault.  I never would have said or done what I did if I knew he was awake and I was dealing with his real self, not the subconscious; I would have known he was awake if he never pretended to talk/act things out in his sleep.  The narcissist had me fully in his talons.

As for your partner’s assertion, yes – you may have sent angry emails or yelled or slammed doors or called names. So your abuser claims YOU were abusing him/her.

But it’s more likely you were REACTING to being abused by your partner. What can make it even more difficult for you to see and understand at this point is that some of their abuse may be subtle and covert rather than obvious and overt.

This causes further difficulty for you in identifying the abuse – and makes it easier for your abuser to convince you that it’s all your fault, or the problem is really with YOU – that you’re “crazy”, or “imagining things”.

They’ll abuse you, and when you react to that abuse, they accuse YOU of abusing THEM and they play the victim role. They don’t call it “crazymaking” for nothing! —Let’s Talk About Reactive Abuse


Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victims an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment.

The techniques used in “Gaslighting” by the narcissist are similar to those used in brainwashing, interrogation, and torture that have been used in psychological warfare by intelligence operatives, law enforcement and other forces for decades.

The intention is to, in a systematic way, target the victim’s mental equilibrium, self confidence, and self esteem so that they are no longer able to function in an independent way.

Gaslighting involves the abuser to frequently and systematically withhold factual information from the victim, and replace it with false information.

Because of its subtlety, this cunning Machiavellian behavior is a deeply insidious set of manipulations that is difficult for anybody to work out, and with time it finally undermines the mental stability of the victim. That is why it is such a dangerous form of abuse.

The emotional damage of Gaslighting is huge on the narcissistic victim. When they are exposed to it for long enough, they begin to lose their sense of their own self.

Unable to trust their own judgments, they start to question the reality of everything in their life. They begin to find themselves second-guessing themselves, and this makes them become very insecure around their decision making, even around the smallest of choices.

The victim becomes depressed and withdrawn, they become totally dependent on the abuser for their sense of reality. In effect the gaslighting turns the victim’s reality on its head. —What is gaslighting? by Christine

People talking and even walking in their sleep, or acting out dreams, is a real phenomenon.  I even witnessed it in my pets, and would influence my dog’s dreams or my cat’s dreams by petting, barking, or whatever.  Using real phenomena is the best way to fool someone.

And I was already susceptible because my ex Peter talked in his sleep and acted out his dreams, and had convinced me of various telepathic abilities.  He said we had a psychic link, and that because of his ninja training, he went on time-traveling dream trips, was telepathic, could see things happening far away, and hoped to learn telekinesis.  (See here and here, where all these things are described.)

Because I believed Peter, I also believed Phil, making me perfect to gaslight with these fake “dreams.”  Also, my NVLD made me more susceptible to this, because it’s much harder for people with NVLD to notice when someone is lying.


Cast of Characters (Work in Progress)

Table of Contents

Freshman Year

September 1991:

 October 1991:

November 1991:

December 1991: Ride the Greyhound

January 1992: Dealing with a Breakup with Probable NVLD

 February 1992:

March 1992: Shawn: Just Friends or Dating?

April 1992: Pledging, Prayer Group–and Peter’s Smear Campaign

May 1992:

Sophomore Year 

Summer 1992:

September 1992:

October 1992–Shawn’s Exasperating Ambivalence:

November 1992:

December 1992:

January 1993:

February 1993:

March 1993:

April 1993:

May 1993:

Summer 1993: Music, Storm and Prophetic Dreams

September 1993:

October 1993:

November 1993:

December 1993:

January 1994:

February 1994:

March 1994:

April 1994:

Senior Year 

June 1994–Bits of Abuse Here and There:

July & August 1994:

January 1995:

February 1995:

March 1995:

April 1995:

May 1995:


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