Lame Adventure 406: Feather Headed

When I label a ton of bricks like I recently did all afternoon at The Grind my thoughts naturally stray from the mind-numbing task at hand and I start wondering. I wonder about what became of my grade school peers, people I primarily last saw in 1973 most of whom I loathed and whose names have faded from memory, but their acne and braces have real staying power. Are they now happy and fulfilled, or miserable and adrift? Do the girls look dowdy, have the guys lost their hair, how many of them are orphans, how many are dead themselves? On that uplifting note, my mind drifted in the direction of the somnambulant: what should I prepare for dinner, chicken with steamed spinach or fish with zucchini? To regain some semblance of consciousness, my thoughts shifted to a reliable source of pick-me-up: sex. But they landed there only for a moment; about the length of time it takes me to maintain interest having descended into being a magnet for women who are dedicated practitioners of room clearing halitosis. Instead of suggesting, “I’ll bring the wine” when invited over, would it be misinterpreted if I offered to bring the Listerine?

Suddenly my reverie was interrupted with a familiar musical interlude for those of you like me who find the frantic beating of pigeon wings on an air conditioner soothing. As I listened to the rock doves clamoring outside that were either passionately mating or engaging in a feather flying turf war, both acts uncannily sound equally aerobic, I thought:

Me: What a joyful noise!

According to this veteran avian observer, when pigeons party on the air conditioner like it’s 1999, that means that the temperature outside might actually be the unthinkable: above freezing. According to the New York Times, “By January’s end, if the forecast holds, there will have been 15 days with temperatures in the teens or lower.” By the Times’ count, January 2014 has had only  “roughly four days” with average temperatures. I checked the temperature on my phone and saw the unimaginable this winter. It was a balmy 45 degrees!

Balmy!

Balmy!

I thought:

Me: I could tear off my clothes and run around the block naked and screaming.

Then, I remembered that if I did that, there might be many clothed people screaming right back at me including my superior, Elspeth:

Elspeth: Put your clothes back on and finish labeling these bricks!

Of course three hours later, when it was quitting time, it had plummeted to 28 and I could not be clothed enough.

Chilly!

Chilly!

I informed my colleague, Godsend, that the temperature was once again in freefall. I accessed my inner Al Roker, minus the lap band, and forecast that it would be about 25 when she returned to Queens that evening. I warned her that the longer it would take her to get home, the lower it would go. If she delayed getting back until 2 am, it might only be 16. She assured me that she was going straight home. In fact, mentally, she seemed to be following my lead and had not shown up to The Grind at all that day.

Back to pigeons in winter, when they are not around, or worse, when they appear, but their feathers are puffy and they’re perched quietly, like this one planted outside my window over the weekend, when it was a bone chilling 18, then you know that’s a sure sign that it’s frigid cold again.

"What I'd give right now for a donut and for it to be 40 degrees."

“What I’d give right now for a doughnut and for it to be 40 degrees.” Me, too!

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82 responses to “Lame Adventure 406: Feather Headed

  1. We don’t get a lot of pigeons in my neck of the woods so I can tell it’s freezing when I step outside and feel like my face is ripping apart.

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  2. Wow, amazing that it actually warmed up that much. But hilarious that the pigeons were your first clue! As you know, we have pigeons here at our house, a lot of them in the city, actually. Do they poop less when it’s really cold? Somehow, I suppose one wouldn’t be that lucky.

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    • Considering that their food supply is not as abundant as usual because people are staying indoors and littering so much less, I witnessed them pecking every speck of icy snow off the air conditioner in a feeding frenzy. I have unscientifically concluded that they are not eating as well as usual. And possibly crapping ice cubes.

      Hugs back from the Big Apple,
      V

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  3. Aerobic, erotic, aerodynamic… let’s call the whole thing off…

    9º here this morn… there are twelve varieties of small pigeon-like creatures just inches beyond the bay window where I read your blog; dozens of birds – my favorites the Cardinals, Blue Jays and Titmice.

    Stay warm, we’re expecting more snow this evening from the south. It may go out to sea before reaching NYC.

    R.

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    • R, my Beavis and Butthead side loves the name “Titmice”. Right now, my phone’s weather app says it is mostly sunny here in NYC, but 18 degrees, where the temperature looks like it will hold steady but then a snowflake appears at midnight. Joy. So, could yet another wintry blast be heading our way? I’d say, “Pile it on,” but I don’t want that. What I really want to say is, “Enough already with the snow and cold!”

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  4. Ummm…pigeon sex? I guess they do that sort of thing. There are so many of them. They don’t spend any time here in the backyard. They only like concrete under their feet.

    The temps fell so fast last night here in IA, the thermometer fell off the table. It is -11˚ this morning. Warmer later. We got all the way up to 0˚ yesterday.

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  5. How do you do a screenshot of your own phone? Or is it someone else’s iPhone? Or did you take a picture of your iPhone with your camera? And what is the meaning of life? And why, when you drop a gallon of epoxy based concrete paint does it invariably land top down with the cover flying off?

    Okay, I think even rudimentary physics will explain the last one. And yes, I am now painting my basement floor…something I had foresworn just 24 hours before that to my bride and our home design stager. Yes, we are preparing to put our domicile on the market. We are accepting offers from any LA readers. Yes, there will be a minor LA discount–subject to credit approval.

    At least it’s just the 20 x 15 laundry area and I guess I could say I am lucky because I dropped the can only hours after having removed the laundry from their drying racks.

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    • First of all: isn’t it your kids job to explain to you how to use your iPhone? But since you’re hidden away playing monochrome Jackson Pollack in the laundry room, simultaneously press both the button at the top of your phone and the round button on the screen and voila! You’ll take a picture of whatever is on your screen. Try it.

      As for the meaning of life, Jim in IA explained all I need to know about it when he revealed that even his thermometer collapsed from this bitter cold.

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      • Your comment assumes my kids would impart to me the secrets of 21st century technology even if they knew them. They probably do, but have yet to share the wisdom with the near-Luddite who helped give them corporeal existence.

        Thanks for filling in. And to think of it your like a month older than me. Who let you in on this techno secret?

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  6. Deep freeze throughout the country. We are stuck under a thick, gray layer of inversion here in Boise and have been for almost a month. People are becoming depressed, angry, irritable and sullen. Some people are driving way up to get above the layer, to experience a little bit of blue sky before they have to come down and breath in the toxic fog. My sinuses are a wreck. It’s damn cold. But last evening I saw the news from Chicago and Minnesota and I stopped my whining for a couple of hours. I pray for the homeless and disadvantaged. Pigeons – not so much. They’ll survive, much like the thousands of geese across the street from me who’ve made the field a veritable land mine of poop-infested mess.

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    • I hear you, SDS. This evening on my crowded subway ride home from The Grind, there was a woman who was such an immobile miserable blob she would not move further into the train. I managed to slither around her, but because she was such an obstinate object glued to where she stood, I counted eight people crammed up against the door simply because she would not move further in. If only a few Boise geese were around to drop a love bomb on her head.

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  7. Great stream-of-consciousness (or maybe unconsciousness) post about the weather, V. I must say that I love your writing! It has been a cold winter, so far. We got five inches of snow yesterday and woke up this morning to temperatures of 5 degrees F! It was 60 degrees on Saturday.

    Oh well, it is winter, after all…

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    • The good news is that I heard temperatures might climb up the thirties by this weekend, Cathy. That sounds almost tropical. Thank you for the positive reinforcement about my for the birds rambling!

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  8. The poor pigeons. I feel for them. Sounds like a miserable winter for all. Can you slip Listerine into the wine bottle or will that be a deadly drink? And interesting that you’re having this problem all of a sudden. Are more women not brushing their teeth or is your sense of smell getting better. Or taste–yuck!

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    • I feel for the pigeons, too, TB! They’ve been severely bagel and pizza deprived this frigid cold month. If there were an Olympic event for olfactory skill, I am certain that my proboscis would bring home the gold.

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  9. We had a sudden appearance of numerous migratory birds who seemed to think spring came early when the nights stayed above freezing for a week or two. Like your overactive pigeons, they too are heralds of spring. I wonder what they are doing now.

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  10. I often forget to check the temperature and get a shock once I’m outside. It often looks lovely and sunny, even when it’s cold enough to freeze your face off! On the other end of the spectrum, when it’s hot out, I tend to be overdressed because the lower level of the house where the door is located is often cool or downright chilly. I feel like the weather is a lose lose situation most of the time. We had an influx of Bohemian Waxwings feasting on our Mountain Ash berries last week. I don’t know what that means for weather, but Kush found them particularly entertaining.

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  11. Despite the fact I’m currently sitting in my jacket in the living room (yes, it’s quite chilly, but mostly I’m just too lazy to go upstairs and get a sweater – the coat stand was closer…) I am quite glad London remains a stable plus 5-9 degrees Celsius.
    This running around the block naked thing would be something to blog about, though, wouldn’t it?

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  12. Ah, the weather and hot pigeon sex. Great topics for taking your mind off a mundane task. The big conversation topic here now is the escalating price of propane. In fact it’s traveling skyward faster than a rocket. I have no intention of waddling around the parking lot naked. Some idiot might record it on an iPhone and put me on the “People of Walmart” website.

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    • Appearing on that web site, Russell, would be this New Yorker’s nightmare! I even feel chills at the idea of you being “exposed” there. I have never been in a Walmart in my life. They’re not welcome here in the Apple.

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  13. I’m definitely rethinking my retirement to the northeast. I’ve been freezing cold her and it’s 40 degrees. Also, I hit a pigeon while driving downtown over the weekend. I’ve never seen that happen. I think he was okay, just surprised.

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    • So Maggie, let me get this straight: the pigeons in Portland when struck by a car bounce and fly off as opposed to the ones in New York that happen to splat and flatten? If I were a pigeon I’d fly west at warpspeed. You might prefer retiring to the southeast in winter and head here the other nine months of the year if cold and snowy winters do not rock your world.

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  14. I’ve always wondered if NYC pigeons were imbued with some sort of weather-imperviousness. Adjacent to the westbound BQE in Queens is a house with a black-thatched roof that is, every morning (even this week), like a pigeon Starbucks. Anywhere from 10-40 or so every day just sitting there. Napping? Plotting world domination? It fascinates me.

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    • That’s quite a community of pigeons! Where I go they seem to be on the down low the lower the temperature goes. Your pigeons in Queens are the extreme variety. Impressive! As for what they’re thinking about while roosting it can be explained in one word: high carb food.

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  15. This cold is totally mind numbing. I feel like a giant frozen slug.

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  16. The grade school peers: I graduated from grade school (8th grade) in 1974. Though we have spread far and wide from my hometown, I can tell you that some of the girls are dowdy, some of the boys are bald. I believe only one of them is dead. (It was a small class.) On the other hand, I went to funeral services last fall for the mom of one classmate. A great friend, Mark, and I had dinner together before the visitation, laughing and talking loudly and making a ruckus. When we went to the register, the cashier asked when we’d last seen each other. “December (2012),” I said. “A year ago! Reeeeeeeally??” asked Mark. (He is dramatic. He’s an actor, after all.) The cashier was impressed. I asked her, “Can you guess how long ago we *met*?” She shook her head. Doing some quick math and stuttering at length, I finally said, “FORTY-FIVE years ago!!” Smart girl, she quickly asserted that we couldn’t have even been born that long ago, much less met as grade school mates.

    It is true, we both look young for our age. And there are a few others who can boast the same. So they don’t all look dowdy and old. Just some of them. :)

    Thanks for the smiles this cold afternoon in Iowa.

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    • Melanie, not only do I forget almost all the names of everyone I went to grade school with, I would have no idea who any of them are should I encounter them today. But there was one girl I was extremely attracted to back in the day who was quite a vixen. Curious, I looked her up on line. She had morphed into Ethel Mertz. More recently, I looked up a guy I used to know in college. He died in 2009. Now, when I think of people from my distant past, I play it safe: I keep them there. But I’m glad your reunion with your old school chum went so well.

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      • Oh yes. It was an odd class. We’ve had 2 reunions already and are gearing up for another. Mark and Alan are 2 of my best friends, and there are a handful of others I cherish as well. And then there are people I could do without! My hs class, though, not such happy memories there.

        And hey, maybe Ethel was sexier than you know! ;-)

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        • Since I have not spoken to Ethel in over 40 years, I’m going to keep that a mystery. I am quite sure that there have been reunions at my schools, but I have been bestowed the honor of not being amongst the invited. Or maybe I have been and my dad just tosses them in his recycle bin knowing there’s no way I would ever fly cross country for that. I would not attend if these events were held in the apartment next door. With that in mind, I might actually motivated to move.

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  17. The polar vortex is the Almighty’s way of showing His displeasure with the iniquitous denizens of the 5 boroughs. But following the more tolerant example set by Pope Francis, the Big Man isn’t planning to wipe out the city completely, but just let you know that you’re all on notice.

    So repent or something.

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  18. Ah ha … I remember that balmy day that preceded the dive! So, when is mating season for the NYC pigeons?

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  19. Just checked my temperature gauge, LA, and it’s a 4′. Only just above freezing… and there are no pigeons around here. No naked people either, for that matter, which is usually a blessing in disguise!

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  20. Yes. This winter — sheesh! I’m on hiatus till April, so it’s very easy for me to avoid going out — and I have. To piggyback on thoughts on sex, yes. God forbid it should actually happen, I think I should cry, or die — ha!

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  21. I like your pigeon-referenced thermometer. I only know it’s a certain degree (can’t remember what) when you can see your breath. For me to take my clothes off and frolic outdoors it has to be high temperatures indeed. Like the kind where pigeons pant to release steam from their heat-scorched lungs.

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    • Tania, when I see my breath from my own hot air I feel like a steam engine on feet. The temperature over here is supposed to start hitting the thirties again in the days ahead. Yay!

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  22. I hear that Sunday it is going to get to 50! Get our your bathing suit!

    And just in time for the Super Bowl,too.

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    • 50! Woo hoo! But the sore loser in me would have welcomed a blizzard on Super Bowl Sunday. Hey, my team’s not in it. Let those swells paying upwards of a grand a ticket suffer.

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  23. I never noticed pigeons were such great forecasters! I must give the Metoffice Weather Centre here the brush off and start watching the birds. Incidentally, have you come across the app Weather Dog? I think its internationally available. This dog sits in whatever weather it is due to be. you can scratch him and he puts up his chin to help you. He shivers in the cold and in windy weather his ears fly up in the air. He is the closest think you can have to a dog if you can’t have a dog ( with the possible exception of a hamster). I stopped using the BBC for forecasts when I found him. He worked very well for me when I was in the Big Apple…

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    • I checked out Weather dog, Kate, but unfortunately, it’s not available for the iPhone. It sounds like a lot of fun. Guess I’m stuck relying on pigeons, who I wouldn’t exactly call fun. But when they’re around that’s a sure sign that it does not feel like the arctic outside.

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  24. Oh…stop yer bitchin’. We had a night of -49C and there was STILL the odd young idiot sporting shorts. It’s been really cold since December. But every year I suck it up because I’m too stupid to move somewhere warmer.

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    • Hey Wendy, I saw an “odd young idiot sporting shorts” over here today, too! Granted, it wasn’t -49C, which I believe is, correct me if I’m mistaken, a thousand below in Fahrenheit. What is it with these punks? Did they not get the memo telling them that we’re in the dead of winter? I would never move someplace warmer! What would I have to bitch about if I was comfortable? Life would be too dull if it was easy.

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