DISCLAIMER: I am NOT making this up. I swear.

“Did you know,” said Tami, “That your bird just set off the burglar alarm?”

Tami is a friend who also happens to clean my house every couple of weeks. We’ve known each other for years, we trade arttalk (she’s a skilled painter and concrete sculptor), and occasionally we grab lunch or share farmer’s market stuff or something. I think she believes that I come from another planet, but in her view that just makes things more interesting.

“Bird?” I said cautiously, “What bird?”

“The ginormous starling, about as big as a crow, that’s been flying around in your living room, setting off the burglar alarm, and crapping all over the furniture,” she said, and now she couldn’t resist a chuckle. “I’m ASSUMING I can tell the police you didn’t mean for that to happen, right?”

I thought back to that funny scrabbling sound I’d heard in the chimney this morning when I was busy discovering that Nate was NOT in the mousetrap. “Uhm, well, I can’t say I’m all THAT surprised,” I started, “I did hear something this morning but I’d had just about enough of critters and figured that whatever it was, it’d keep until tonight.”

“Apparently it didn’t,” she said (unnecessarily, I thought). “What do you want me to do with him?”

I pondered this. “Is catching him and putting him outside an option?”

“I’ve already caught him,” she said, “I chased him around for awhile but then he headed for the living room windows and got into the drapes and I grabbed him. You, er, might need new drapes.”

“Anyway, I’ve got him right here, wrapped in a towel and I’m about to take him outside. I just wanted to check and make sure this isn’t some new pet you’ve got. I know you can’t have a cat and knowing you, well, I figured I’d better ask…”

I assured her that the bird was uninvited and I had no objection to ejecting him. I kinda winced at the whole burglar alarm thing; I imagine the Portland police are getting just a leeeeeeetle bit tired of my burglar alarm going off.

Tami came back on the line. “OK, he flew off into the trees,” she said, “And I’m closing your flue–you should keep it closed anyway, you know, because all the heat gets out. By the time you get home you won’t know he was even here. Well, except for the drapes. Probably.”

You know, I’ll bet I’d have less trouble with critters if I invited them all into the house and I just camped out in the backyard. Sigh.