Mexican Living: Pasatiempo

It occurred to me one day that I needed something to do with my time when I wasn't writing. You know--something to divert myself so more writing ideas could come to mind. One cannot sit in front of the computer screen all day waiting for an idea to come knocking at the door and say,

"Here I am."

For one thing, to do so will result in your eyes eventually turning to oatmeal and melting right out of your head. And, if that happens, you won't be able to write anything.

Second, you'll just whine and cry like a baby because you cannot think of anything to write. Your wife will yell at you.

I needed a hobby.

I have never been one to seek the traditional manly hobbies. You know what I am talking about: killing small animals during hunting seasons, making beer, watching one football game, then another football game, then another, and another, and so on! Worse yet, playing football or whatever other sports men play.

So, I took up an untraditional hobby here in Mexico. I breed parakeets.

Before you laugh let me say that I am serious about this hobby. It is something I did when we lived in a small college town in the States so I knew what I was getting into. At one time, we had a bird-breeding business going and sold them to pet shops.

Now I have a backyard (back patio) area where I had a local carpenter build an outdoor aviary. It is cool and I enjoy this to no end. The birds can stay outside in this moderate climate. All the mess associated with this hobby (bird poop and I am talking a lot of it too) can be contained easily.

I am glad I got back into this bird-breeding business because it is relaxing. It gives me something other than my wife to obsess about and dote on. It's like watching fish in an aquarium except these animals can fly and talk back to me when I coo to them. They tell me things like,

"Oh, ok, you've acted like a nutty-human long enough now get me some sunflower seeds."

This is a true story: Once, when we lived in Kansas, we had a Quaker Parakeet who talked-a lot! The Jewish lady from downstairs was talking to the bird when it said to her,

"Get me a beer!"

I am NOT making this up!

Some of you may be reluctant to get into breeding parakeets because you've heard that they can give you a lung disease. Let me assure you (cough, hack, choke) that this is absolutely (gag, can't breathe, bloody phlegm spewing) not so.

It is easy to breed parakeets. All you need is a good-size cage, a pair of birds, lots of seed, and a nest box or log. Make sure they have plenty of privacy to become acquainted but once they do, you don't have to worry at all about them needing privacy to "do the deed." In fact, they will not care who is watching or what is happening around them.

This could prove to be inconvenient when company comes over. If you plan to have the parish priest, the neighborhood watch group, or maybe a book-reading club meeting, you might want to cover them with a towel during this breeding period. However, be prepared to answer questions like,

"Why is that towel moving in such a rhythmic manner?"

"Funny, I don't feel a breeze, why is that towel flapping?"

"What's going on in that cage to make that towel move like that, Mommy?"

Of course, since we have the birds in an outside facility we don't have to worry about that one bit.

It really is fun and it gives me a chance to engage is something other than writing and bugging the life out of my wife.

Doug Bower is a freelance writer and book author. His most recent writing credits include The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Houston Chronicle, and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Transitions Abroad. He lives with his wife in Guanajuato, Mexico.

His new book, Mexican Living: Blogging it from a Third World Country, can be seen at

In The News:

The writing game  The Bookseller
Opinion | Why I Write  The New York Times
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