Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Bird Ball

The Russians have moved their bird ball out to the edge of their balcony railing, directly overlooking our bird feeder. As far as I can tell it doesn't do any good -- the birds still come. I suppose the allure of food is more powerful than an inflatable deterrent. It feels like a big yellow middle finger to us, though, doesn't it?

They have a real thing about birds perching on their railing. They've lined it with pigeon spikes in an effort to keep them away. I mean, birds are going to perch. It's what they do. You can't stop nature.

Not that I don't see the downside. Just yesterday I was sitting in the garden beneath our walnut tree, reading The New Yorker, when a pigeon shat on me from above. And it wasn't a modest little poo, either. It was like being strafed with pea soup. It was everywhere. I had to come inside and take a shower.

In addition to the magazine, I read "The Art Thief," Michael Finkel's book about a French couple who, over several years in the '90s, stole a couple hundred artworks from museums around Europe. Apparently they did it not for profit, but because they loved art and wanted to live with it in their home. It was a good book and well worth reading. What I'd forgotten about the case is that after the man was finally arrested, his mother dumped all the metalwork in a canal and set all the paintings on fire. While the art in the canal was recovered, the paintings -- including a Cranach and a Brueghel, among others -- were all destroyed.

If there's one thing I can't abide, it's the deliberate destruction of art. It's what propelled me all the way through the 900 or so pages of "The Goldfinch" -- the fear that something terrible was going to happen to the painting. (I did love that book, for what it's worth.) I can't imagine why the mother, in this case, didn't simply take her son's purloined art to the police or leave it anonymously somewhere for the authorities to find. Why burn it all? How can she have no sense of the cultural loss, of what she's taken from all of us?

In the afternoon, when Olga went out with her dog-walker, I took a walk of my own around our neighborhood. There are so many places I used to go with the dog, but can't nowadays because she simply can't go as far. So I exercised my legs and revisited some streets I haven't seen in a while, like the one near the cemetery where this somewhat dilapidated garage is located.

Olga, meanwhile, was at the Heath. She goes out daily with a group of dogs in a van. The walker says she plays a bit but I suspect she mostly lies around in the grass, and that's fine. It's good for her to have a social outing. We're keeping up her daily walks even in summer because if we postponed them she'd lose her place, and then they might not take her on again in the fall.

We are finally having some summery weather -- today it's getting up to 70º F (21º C), though still a bit cloudy. Yesterday was sunnier, so I broke out the Pimm's. My former boss gave us a bottle when she moved back to the states last year. Pimm's is a British summertime staple, a gin-based drink that's mixed with lemon-lime soda for a refreshing cocktail. Serving it with strawberries is a must. (Cucumber too, ideally, but we didn't have any.) It was a nice way to end the day!


River said...

I would love to join Olga lying on the grass and napping, but it's way too cold here for that. It's nice that she has social outings and you get to go on longer walks.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

I must apologise profusely Steve because when I read that you had been shat upon by a Russian pigeon I laughed out loud. By the way, did you take a selfie of this direct hit? Please post it to create yet more mirth.

Moving with Mitchell said...

As always, beautiful story telling photos. And, yes, The Russians can sure be snotty. But at least they haven’t had the nerve to directly complain about your bird feeders. Pigeons will crap on your head with or without nearby bird feeders.

roentare said...

That beverage looks so good. I personally dont like birds come to visit my backyard in hordes. The amount of poo is just unbearable to clean up

Bob said...

I'd drink my Pimm's cocktail right after I loaded my yard with many many bird feeders.

Ed said...

I read the "Art Thief" a year or so ago and I couldn't help but realize that we are all made differently. If I walk into a museum and ponder how nice it would be to have a piece back into my house, I would be paralyzed with the fear of getting caught and how many cameras, alarms, people witnessing it, were all around. This guy was just stone cold and business like about it. Made me realize that museums are really sort of "soft targets".

I read another similar book where instead of paintings and statues, the thief stole bird feathers for black market selling to fly tyers for fishing lure collectors.

Boud said...

I love the Goldfinch! Wonderful book. The goldfinch is also a symbol of the soul, which gives even more significance to the story.

What happened to that dreadful old woman? There ought to be some penalty for destruction of world treasures.

Ellen D. said...

Maybe you should sit under an umbrella when you are out reading so the birds cannot poop on you? Just a thought... ;)

Jeanie said...

I've never had a Pimms but hear about it and it sounds good. I think if they are available in October, I'll have to try one.

We'll have to agree to disagree on the Goldfinch. I would have loved it had it been about 200 pages shorter -- it could have used a good editor, though I suspect Donna Tartt wouldn't have gone through that! It just felt redundant after a bit, yet I thought the overall concept and characters were good. I know what you mean about the destruction of art. "The Art Thief" sounds like something I'd like.

I don't get the yellow ball or what it's supposed to do!

Susan said...

I hope the yellow bird detractor turns brown/black. It is ugly. Stolen museum art is big loss for society. Burning art deserves a jail sentence. The building looks abandoned and nature is consuming it. Your Pimms cocktail looks wonderful.

Sharon said...

I read that book. It made me sick to think of all that art lost to the world. I have a book called "Museum of the Missing" that tells about lots of art that has been stolen or lost in some way.
I can't imagine not wanting birds around. I love watching the birds.
Your Pimm's looks refreshing.

Colette said...

I'm afraid your upstairs neighbors are going to Hell. Oh well.

Red said...

I don't think you're the only one receiving a large dump of pigeon poo. Hopefully this is the last experience with pigeon poo.

ellen abbott said...

a little passive aggressive move from the Russians.

hard to believe that couple could steal any art from a museum much less several hundred. I suppose the mother thought if she destroyed the evidence her son would get off. what really astounds me is there are so many people who have zero art in their homes.

Margaret said...

Perfect weather! I too was once shat on by a bird; it was in college and it was running down my face. I had to wash my hair about 4 times. Nasty. I enjoyed "The Goldfinch" too although the Las Vegas section was too long and dragged in my opinion. That's a crazy story about the stolen artwork; I had never heard it!

Ms. Moon said...

What the heck is the bird deflector supposed to do? Those people are just really strange. It looks so out of place there and so ugly. Do we think that birds are really that stupid?
I didn't read "The Goldfinch". Isn't there a child in danger in it? I'm not good at those.
Enjoy your Pimm's. It looks so good.

Kelly said...

You made me laugh, Steve. I think everyone has a "shat upon" story, whether as the recipient or just witnessed.

That's a refreshing looking drink! I would hate for pigeon poo to get in it!

Pixie said...

What a lovely photo of Olga, stretched out, enjoying the grass and sunshine.
I don't understand the Russians trying to stop birds perching on their railing. I love having birds in my yard. I did laugh when you described the pigeon shitting on you as "being strafed with pea soup."

Linda Sue said...

This post made my day! Bird poos sent from the russian god of "I will get you my little pretty, and your little dog , too" and that crazy bird ball - so not scary! My neighbor has one- it does nothing. It looks like a party balloon for maybe Olga- who has the right attitude about the weirdos that live above you. And by "above" clearly they are closer to god! So, take cover!
That cocktail looks mighty refreshing!

The story about the art "collectors" WOW! "If I can't have you, then no one will"....

The Bug said...

In my FB memories today it was the 10th anniversary of me finishing the audiobook of the Goldfinch. Here's what I had to say: "Well, 32 1/2 hours later I have finished listening to The Goldfinch. I would probably have enjoyed it if it had been about 20 hours shorter. Oh, and the point of the book is: life sucks, we are alone & live hellish pointless lives & then we die. Any meaning that we can find in life comes from loving something that can never die. Like a painting. Of a goldfinch."

Ha! I wonder if I would like it better now?

Debby said...

Oooooh. That's a beautiful drink!

We've got two birds that built a nest in our eaves, inside the eaves, not outside the house. We tried to discourage them, but no such luck. The birds are quite loud at this point, and we have quite a bit of shit running down the corner of the house. When those fledge, we will seal up that corner and hopefully we won't have it happen again.

Maybe we will just festoon our house with yellow bird balls.

37paddington said...

Only once have I had a direct hit from a bird. It was … not pleasant.

Your summer drink sure is pretty though.

Steve Reed said...

River: Olga seems so much happier in the summer when she can lie in the grass!

YP: I was too grossed out to take a selfie!

Mitchell: They've made comments before about how loud the birds are.

Roentare: I suppose it depends on the bird. Geese can be very messy, but I don't even notice poo from the birds we have.

Bob: Exactly! Feeding birds for spite! LOL

Ed: Oh, the audacity of this guy was just unbelievable. I think a huge part of what keeps the planet orderly is that most of us just do what we're supposed to do.

Boud: She got charged and punished ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4155989.stm ) but the sentence seems pretty light, all things considered.

Ellen D: Ha! I guess some people do get patio tables with an umbrella but it never occurred to me that it was a poop deterrent.

Jeanie: "The Art Thief" is quite short and easily readable -- nothing like "The Goldfinch"!

Susan: I guess if anything it might deflate. Maybe I'll help it along. :)

Sharon: The art from several relatively recent museum heists -- the Isabella Stewart Gardner heist in Boston, or the one in Rotterdam -- has never been found. Depressing.

Colette: Ha! You made me laugh out loud. :)

Red: I hope so! Once is enough!

Ellen: I guess a lot of people just don't see any value in it. The mother told investigators the art meant nothing to her. It was just objects.

Margaret: It seems people who struggled with "The Goldfinch" often hit a wall at that Las Vegas section!

Ms Moon: Yes, the central character is a child in the beginning, caught in a terrorist event. I don't know why people think a beach ball is going to keep away birds!

Kelly: I've been shat upon before, but honestly, never like this.

Pixie: I don't get it either. They are very particular people.

Linda Sue: I don't know why people think that bird ball would be effective.

Bug: Ha! Probably not. It seems most people either liked it or didn't like it. I can't believe that was ten years ago!

Debby: Well, having birds IN the house is another matter. I wouldn't want that either!

37P: It's a fairly rare occurrence, thankfully, but it does happen!