How to confuse the birds

Arriving right on time, Oscar pulled up to the driveway Saturday morning, unloaded his equipment and began the great yard cleanup project. Armed with only one assistant that spoke no English, a leaf blower, chainsaw and some rakes, he skillfully and methodically cut, trimmed, chopped and cleaned the overgrown mess that cluttered our entire property. Deemed necessary by our real estate agent, we finally began the first step towards the move to Malaysia and mimicked the other residents of our middle class neighborhood . Giving in to suburban yard sprawl, we shirked our responsibilities as we learned them growing up and paid someone else to do it.

Crows saw the light and headed for the exits

Crows escaping the carnage

Recalling my recent post with the “before ” pictures, , the “after” pictures speak almost as powerfully as a small town devastated by a tornado. Uncovering spots of the property long covered and overgrown, the back yard looked like one of those post-apocalyptic movie sets where the humans are gone and the plants and animals took over. Destroying hundreds of precious hidden items, countless nuts and other wintertime storage goodies were swept away, leaving who knows how many squirrels heading for the small animal soup kitchen. Uncovering the entire quarter acre of property as the day went by, we watched in awe as four years of garden neglect went up in leaf blowing smoke.


Surveying the fruits of gardening labor, Diane and I patiently waited, attending to other important matters like gathering fifteen years worth of credit card receipts that need to be shredded. (I’m not sure about Malaysia, but I’ve heard Thailand holds the world’s record for reported episodes of identity theft and other white-collar crime so I’ll take no chances.)  Out of nowhere a strange sight came into view. Holy shit, we have a bench in the back yard? Who knew?



Apparently this was part of our property

Discovering stuff you own but never knew about lost its appeal rather quickly as we noticed the bench looked like it belonged in that aforementioned apocalyptic set. Broken, worn and unable to support the weight of a child, we realized it was just another blemish that needed to be trashed, sold or masked. Adding it to the “what do we do about this” list, we walked outside and looked at the front while munching on ham and cheese on rye (Did I mention I’m a Jew that loves pork products? Too bad we’ve chosen a country where half the population follows their religion thus denying me much of the bacon I love).

Impressed at first, we realized that everything formerly known as a messy plant now became a space where flowers need to be planted. Mentally calculating how much that might cost, we moved on and looked at the what used to be the ivy infested side of the house. Owning a corner lot means extra attention to detail designed to be aesthetically pleasing to soccer moms walking their kids to the elementary school. Before the cleanup the ivy looked almost quaint, similar to a New England style cottage. Now it looks like a destroyed section of stucco in need of a paint job. Kaching !! More cash wasted.




Reminded why everyone in Northern California never retires because they spend thousands of dollars paying unskilled laborers to clean what we never did, I understood the purpose behind the world’s most annoying sound that all house husbands hear seven days a week. (It’s not the sound from Dumb and Dumber, it’s a leaf blower, three immigrant guys speaking another language and lawn mowers). Daylight began to fade as Oscar finished up. Needing another full day to complete the job, he said goodbye and we headed to the back yard once again, curious to know how much gutting he accomplished on the trellis. The before and after pictures are truly astounding:

Satisfied that Oscar earned his money, we couldn’t believe how much better the property looked. Encouraged by the results, we took out the checkbook, forked over $1,050.00 and went back to the trusty app to sell your crap to see what garbage was still available to be sold. Earning about $900 so far, we pondered how to get rid of the big items without hiring strong movers. Although I’m more fit than ever before, I’m no superman and maneuvering the computer desk through the door without scratching the walls takes talent that home-bound unemployed bloggers don’t normally have.

Angry_BirdsThinking all was well, the worst part of the project hit us hard. Relaxing in the living room watching Sunday Night football, we heard the unmistakable little tweet of the cute and chubby birds that lived in the mess formerly known as the rose-bush above the trellis. Chirping a cute little “Tootsie” sound, we’ve seen the monogamous birds enjoying the security and serenity of their little piece of land. Sounding almost like a cry for help, we walked over the screen door and saw the saddest thing we’ve ever seen while living here.

Their house is all gone

Their house is all gone

Looking just like a homeowner returning to the smoldering ashes of a former home destroyed by a wildfire, the little bird and his mate hopped all over with a sad pathetic whine. Obviously confused, disoriented and saddened, they walked all over the area gazing at what used to be their home. Saddened, we felt like bird murderers and realized why the mice love the wisteria bush outside the house so much. How would you feel if you came home one day and the place you call home was savagely ripped apart? Feeling like evil land developers, we vowed to commit some time to volunteer work with birds soon after arriving in Malaysia. Having visited the Galapagos Islands we know nature is very resilient and we’re confident the family will reestablish itself elsewhere.

Understanding that sometimes humans encroach on wildlife in unintended ways, we realized birds are resourceful and of course can fly away and go somewhere else. Hoping they find another set of homeowners too cheap to pay for gardening services because they’d rather save their money to retire early overseas, we closed the screen door and repented our sins hoping the birds would forgive us. Who knew selling your house involved such mental anguish?

If you love birds like we do, please comment and reassure us they will be fine. 


7 thoughts on “How to confuse the birds

  1. justinehyh

    Poor birds! At least now that you’ve posted about this on your blog, more people will be aware of birds around their houses –> less birds may be displaced. Hope that’s some comfort to you! 🙂


    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      We saw some of them come back recently but they must be saddened kind of like returning to a house after a wildfire burns most of it down !!

      And now we’ve had the biggest rainstorm in 5 years in California and they look even more confused. Where do they all go in the heavy rain? You see so much rain there !! But at least your rain is warm. Thanks for the comment. We were thinking of your blog today while observing some cool wax-wing birds that are migratory. They were munching away on berries but Diane didn’t have her new camera so no pics 😦


      1. justinehyh

        It has been raining a lot recently in Singapore, and whenever it pours we feel so sorry for the poor birds, especially when we see them wet and ruffled afterwards! We always wonder where they go to hide too! We used to have blue-throated bee-eaters that loved staying out even in the heavy rain like they were washing themselves. We’ve posted on that on our blog (titled Showering in the Rain) so you can take a look if you want 🙂


  2. RobinLK

    Hey Guys,
    This is great! Love all the details and flow of words.

    Yes, the birds will be fine, but yes, you should feel like crap for a little while for displacing them. Just sayin’… 🙂 Mr. and Mrs. Cardinal are frequent guests in our backyard, and I’m so upset when the squirrels (whom I also love) invade the Cardinal family’s feeder. It is what it is, I suppose. But just like you guys, they will move on to new digs that might be even cooler.

    The light-colored board on the fence caught my eye (beyond the sad bench). Hubs adds new boards to our back fence about every three months, because the family behind us (who own the fence) are too cheap to repair the aging wood and the holes just keep getting bigger. I half-way expect a neighbor to walk through one day… geez. The pale panel made me smile at its familiarity.

    Just keep looking forward ~ Malaysia will be here before you know it. Oh, and receipts made me laugh out loud. I spend last weekend shredding five years’ worth. What a ROYAL pain the butt!!! I’m vowing to be more diligent, because that was one, slow process. Ugh!

    Keep writing and keep writing those checks! Have a great weekend,

    p.s. ~ You’re right – the soccer moms will love the new flowers. They seem to be into that sort of thing. 😉


    1. rodi (Rob and Diane) Post author

      Poor little confused birds. We are both animal lovers but feel it’s not fair to own any pets that need love and attention when both of us hit the stupid commute two hours before sunrise and arrive home 12 hours alter thanks to traffic that gets worse every year. (well, that’s Diane now, not me). So we’ve held off on having a dog; but birds are another issue. Local residents give us odd looks every time we stop on the trail to stare at the funny motions of a crow or listen to the silly sounds of a mockingbird. We love squirrels and will miss their crazy little sprints back and forth. Too bad they’re so dumb, forget where they bury everything and often get squished by cars here.

      Our neighbor is also too cheap to go half-half with us on the fence so basically we cover it with overgrown trees. The realtor said not to worry about it and we’re already wasting upwards of $4,000 in staging, planting and yard fees just to get the house on the market. This irritates me to no end. In Canada we sold the house in one day with no special staging or home improvements for 99% of asking price (double what we paid six years earlier). But here in Utopia, everything costs and people just give in and spend like there’s no tomorrow. Most of them are brainwashed into thinking work defines your life anyway and think their commutes are justified by all the crap they can charge on their over-extended credit cards.

      Not us. We live on about $1,000 a month including food, gas, utilities and entertainment (although we’ve given up doing anything until the move)
      Thanks for the awesome comments and observations !!

      Liked by 1 person


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