Saturday, August 27, 2016

Calm And Collected

I've always thought it would be cool to collect something. Collectors have fun everywhere they go. They'll pop into junk stores looking for salt cellars, or old toys, or movie posters. Their houses are cluttered with pigs, or frogs, or owls. Sometimes people give you stuff they're sure you're collecting, which is why I have a number of lizards that they mistook for salamanders. I do like salamanders, but I don't collect them.

I don't collect anything. If I could collect something, it would be Birds I Have Seen. I would have my own Life List Of Birds. Unfortunately, I can assemble a Life List about as well as I can build a house with Scotch tape and toilet paper. I don't have what it takes. I can't remember the field marks of a bird for as long as it takes to put down the binoculars and check the field guide. Later I can't remember having seen it at all.

So when I'm out birding with people whose brains are in working condition, sometimes they'll point out some marvelous feathered item and I get all excited, and they say "Is that a life bird for you?"

How the hell should I know? The other day I got my new debit card in the mail and had the opportunity to change the default PIN to one I'd be more likely to remember, so I did. Next time I used the card, I punched in the old number, then my address, my birthday, and my anniversary, and the machine ate my card. It wouldn't give it back until  I described its field marks. I was screwed.

I don't recognize my neighbors if they're not standing under their house numbers. I look up "oligarchy" at least three times a week. I've played piano for 55 years and have no repertoire. I still hold my cell phone up to my ear and wait for the dial tone.

I had to buy a new camera because last week I put it on a little patch of moss for a second and thought "Don't forget you left this here" and that was that, and then it rained.

We got a dozen gulls on this coast and they're peas in a pod. I'm not going to be sure I've seen a life bird unless it's threatening me and looks like a Victorian lady's hat.

That's why it was so cool that I just saw a life bird all by myself, and I knew it. I didn't know what it WAS; I had to look it up. But I knew I'd never seen it. It was a woodpecker. But not a hairy, or a downy, or a pileated, or a red-bellied (because it has a red head: yeah, screw you, new birder), or a black-backed, or an acorn. Them I has seed. This one was different. I was crowing, as it were, about my life bird later.

"What was it?" my friends asked.

Well, shit, you had to go and ask. I'd just looked it up, and now I can't remember what it was called. Let's see. I know it had a white head.

So I looked it up again.

It was a White-Headed Woodpecker. And possibly an Oligarch.

42 comments:

  1. I have trouble recognizing people if their out of context. A few years back, I ran into someone at the food store who obviously knew me and seemed pleased to see me. After a bit, he said, "You don't know who I am, do you?" "I'm sorry," I said, " I know that I know you, I just don't remember from where." Turns out it was our favorite bartender from our favorite place to dine. AND we had just been there the previous night. But he wasn't wearing his bartender clothing and he had children with him, so I couldn't place where I knew him from. It was VERY embarrassing. Now I just call everyone "Sweetie" and act very happy to see them, even if we've only just met. 'Cause you never know.

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    1. I try to admit I don't remember right up front but sometimes I get surprised and things go on too long. Then I can't ask. I used to think I just wasn't interested in people or something, but now I accept that I really don't connect any neurons. They're all free-range up there.

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  2. I had to get off my chair and find my dictionary to look up oligarch, well, a little extra exercise can't hurt.
    I never knew there were so many different types of woodpecker, the only one I know is the cartoon one from the woody woodpecker show on TV when I was a kid.

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    1. NOW guess what's going through my head!

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    2. We're apparently of the same generation. Love your stuff!

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  3. Hahahaha.... I have a friend that is just like this.

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  4. You really are a kindred spirit. LOL

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    1. We people of poor memory are very forgiving though and don't hold grudges.

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    2. We should have a gathering.

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  5. This sounds so terribly familiar to me. The past week alone I've had to look up several words I couldn't remember. I got to them by googling a word that was vaguely like the one I knew I knew, followed by "synonym". Do you suppose they'll let us have the internets in the old folks home?

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    1. As long as the poles are still up.

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    2. You've lost me . . . Or or you doing that on purpose to freak me out? heh

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    3. The telephone poles that have the strings and tubes that the internet cream runs through.

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    4. Ohhh ... I've heard of the "series of tubes" but not the rest. Thanks for the illumination.

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    5. Internet cream -- oh, I love it!

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  6. Well,that would be a new bird for me. Now this summer I am working on not calling my grandchildren by my children's names!

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  7. If it's a new bird or most of the old ones I still have to look it up to be sure.

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    1. I usually just ask someone. More than once or twice.

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  8. You are a collector. And a creator. Of pithy phrases among other things.
    Those collections need very little dusting.
    My memory is also unreliable. Which means I can enjoy new things over and over again.

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    1. So much truer than people can even imagine. "I love this!" "Yeah, you loved it the last two times, too."

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  9. I think I might have the sheet music for that.Whitey's March of the Pileated Oligarch, isn't it? I wonder where it is...

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    1. I am now humming the opening lines of the Get Smart theme song. Really sounds like it ought to be the March of the Pileated Oligarch.

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  10. Where did you see the white headed Woodpecker?!!

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  11. If you can remember that you can't remember you're absolutely fine!

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    1. True complete ignorance might be less painful.

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  12. Holy moly I am exactly the same way. I attribute it to the memory stick in my brain being full of 60 years' worth of information, and when new stuff comes in random tidbits get deleted willy nilly. If I only knew how to run the brain disk defragmenter and choose what gets deleted I'd be all set.

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    1. Great minds, Cindy. I thought I saw your name as I hit the send button so had to come back to check.

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    2. I'd put it down to age of I hadn't been this all my life.

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    3. What the heck did I just type? Dang phone.

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    4. Yah, I'm 78 now. It gets worse.

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    5. I can sort of make out the trajectory.

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  13. THANK GOD! I am not alone. I can fake it when leading bird trips in places I've studied hard and often. But otherwise.... And I have this recurring horror that I will not remember how my children look if I don't see them for a year.

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    1. Do you remember how many children you have?

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  14. aphantasia ... http://www.bbc.com/news/health-34039054

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    1. I remember hearing about this on NPR. I don't have it. I have, in fact, pretty dang good visualization skills. And when I can remember someone's name, it's because I've seen it written down. I do much worse remembering things I've heard. I'm not in the bottom end of the spectrum on any of this but stuff just slips out of me. I don't get it, myself.

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