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Noise!

The last day of the year; that means fireworks the whole day through! I am glad that I am safe and warm inside. Every fifteen minutes or so I fly startled around my cage; I just can't get used to all the sudden flashes and bangs. I don't have the ability to think about all the poor animals out there, but my family do all the more so! They won't let off fireworks themselves. The environment will polluted enough already...

Snow!

This morning, when Jan opened the curtains and I opened my eyes, the whole world had suddenly turned white! I couldn't believe my eyes. In fact, for a moment I even panicked. I have never, ever seen snow in my life and here it was... but after half an hour I got used to it and I enjoyed the view of children sliding and throwing snowballs at each other. Boy, am I glad to be inside!

Coffee! Atchee! Jan!

Proudly once more I would like to present a sample of my vocal abilities. "Coffee! Jan! Whistle... Sophia!" and a BIG sneeze, Hilke's style... Am I not versatile in my vocalizations?

Sophia! Sophia! So...

"Sophia!" "Yes, dear?" "Sophia!" "Yes..." "Soophia!" "Yes!" "Sophiaaaa!" "Yes dear?" This is just a sample, but imagine that we hear it all day long. But don't think Sophia gets tired of hearing her name! Although the rest of the family would like to teach me something new now...


Morning Cuddles

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This morning, Sophia had a day off work. How nice to be able to wake her up again instead of she waking me up! Jan brought me to her bed and there I sat, on the pillow. After a while, for old time's sake, I crawled under the blankets and had Sophia cuddle me from top to toe. Ah, life as a parrot can be so rewarding...


I Can Say It

Yes! I have been practicing every day, and I can say it: Sophia! Here you can hear me say it, several times. That's Sophia herself responding to me. Don't I have a great voice?

Face Bite

This morning it has become clear again that I may be smart and loving to my family, but that I am not a human being. I was in the kitchen with Jan, and as usual after a while he wanted to take my back to my room again. He approached me... I don't know what got into me... but I bit him in the face. No, no, no, no, don't think that I was afraid, or mad, or whatever, it is just that I am an animal with jungle instincts. I don't know what got into me anyway, but those things occasionally happen to parrots. I am happy to say that my family members understand the nature of parrots completely. Instead of punishing me, Jan quietly took my back to my cage and acted like everything was just normal. But long after I had forgotten what I had done, Jan's lip was still bleeding... as a reminder that a domesticated parrot does not mean that you live with a 100% safe creature...

Two Years Old!

Today I am two years old! The family has read that a parrot needs to be talking before his second birthday or they will never speak, so just in the nick of time I am learning my first words...

Orange

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Whatever the family do, I do. Especially if one of them is eating: there is no way they can get around me! Excuse me, I have to go now: Sophia is peeling an orange... I will be busy the coming 10 minutes!


Sophia!

I am practicing "Sophia" all day long now. This is one of my practicing sessions with Sophia herself as a teacher. That's me saying "So" and her saying "Sophia". And you can hear how I imitate Hilke's laughing. Enjoy!

Stubborn? Me?

Lately, I have become more and more self-willed. I have a sweet personality, but sometimes I need to be reminded of that. Like today for example: I was aggressive to all my toys, wild, uncontrolled and stubborn. I know that the family understands it. They have all been teenagers once.

Jan, Coffee!

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"Jan, coffee! Jan! Coffee! Jan. COFFEE! Co, Jahaan! Cohohofeeeee!!!" Now that I know my first words, I can't get enough of them. I say them in all different keys, from soothing to shouting to commanding to asking. Fortunately, the family can't get enough of them. Sophia is absolutely jealous that I know Jan's name first, so she demanded that Hilke would teach her name next. We'll see about that...


I CAN TALK!!!

The latest news: I can talk!!! Yes, I really do! And no, not one word, but two at the same time! For weeks now, Hilke called Jan several times a day with the words: "Jan, Coffee!" And that is exactly what I say now, in her voice. Listen for yourself... So finally, after the family had given up all hope, I can say my very first words!

Still Not Talking

In exactly two months time, I will be two years old. My family is getting a bit worried, because they read that if I don't talk before my second birthday, I will never talk. Well, I couldn't care less; if I talk, I talk, but if I don't, I don't. And that is final!

Andy Griffith

I still like jam sessions with the radio. My repertoire is still a bit small, but it'll grow, don't worry... Listen to my all time favorite Andy Griffith theme. Yessir, that's a-me, whistling!

Danger!

This afternoon, I saw a bird of prey very, very high in the sky. Although I have never seen one before, my instinct told me this means serious danger. Fortunately, it was too high in the sky to start panicking, but I kept an eye on it all the same. By the way, my tail has become beautifully red, as you can see in some of the pictures. And I am the proud owner of two full-feathered wings! Jealous, all you clipped birds around the world?

Dusk

The whole day it has been much too warm even to move. Finally, after eight o'clock in the evening, the temperature was pleasant enough to be able to sit in the garden. I was there too. It was my first time to see it gradually become darker and darker. It was a peaceful experience. I love it very, very much. Actually, never before have I felt this comfortable outside. I even preened my feathers and cuddled with Sophia, something I hardly ever do when I am in the garden.

Lots to See

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Today, the weather was good enough to be outside again. Jan, Hilke and Sophia were in the garden enjoying the sunshine, and here I am sitting on the perch that Jan has created for me. I love it in the garden. In the beginning I hated the chain around my leg, but it seems to be necessary outside. My family has decided (and I must add: against all advice!) not to clip my feathers. I am the proud owner of two perfectly functional wings, but that means that I can't be outside without being restrained. Now, I am completely used to this thing around my leg. I have so much distraction, that half of the time I don't even remember it is there. Outside, everything is green, the leaves move softly in the breeze, I hear the sound of water, see birds taking a bath in our pond and I listen to the soft voices of my family. I wish life could always be as peaceful as that.


Quiet Again

Everything is quiet again around the house. The neighbors have stopped their drilling and hammering, so very, very slowly I regained my confidence. This must not happen to often, or I'll end up with a nervous breakdown!

Nervous Wreck

In the morning, the drilling and pounding continued. In the end, I was such a nervous wreck, that every little sound made me panic. I didn't want to eat or drink; I just sat there shaking. Jan went to the neighbors and asked politely, if next time that they had to do some maintenance again, they would kindly warn us beforehand. Of course, they don't have hearts of stone, so when the husband wanted to continue his drilling later that night (really, their wall must resemble a Swiss cheese by now), obediently he warned us first. Sophia quickly took me out of my cage, put the chain around my claw and took me outside. Although I was still a bit upset about being disturbed so rudely, I wasn't nearly as panicky as yesterday.

Hate Drills!

This afternoon, I had the fright of my life. It was one of those afternoons that the whole world seems asleep: it was quiet and peaceful. I was dozing in my cage and Jan was quietly reading next to me, when suddenly hell broke loose. Our neighbors had chosen that exact moment to drill some holes in the concrete wall that separates their living room from ours. You must know that in our neighborhood you can hear the neighbors sneeze, so you might guess what a noise there was all of a sudden. I fell off my perch, hit the floor and wildly flew through my cage. Jan's heart almost stopped too, partly because of the sudden noise and partly because of my reaction. When the neighbor stopped drilling, he used a hammer. Bang! Bang! Bang! If there is one sound that I hate more than drilling, it is hammering. It didn't stop. I think that our neighbors wanted to recreate the Eiffel tower in their living room, because it went on and on and on like that. I can tell you, that the rest of the d…

Together Again

The convention has finally come to an end. Of course they have enjoyed the program, but they really hate to leave me for such a long time every day! I have to admit though: the very second that they are back every night, they overload me with attention again. Besides, I have heard stories of birds who lead such a life every day... and even they can be reasonably happy when treated well!

Convention

The family have left early this morning for their yearly convention of Jehovah's Witnesses. They came back at seven o'clock in the evening. And they have to go for two more days! But it seems to be necessary, so I'll just sit on my perch and wait... wait... wait...

Hilke Is Special

Every time my family members are astonished to see what a relationship I have with Hilke in comparison with Jan and Sophia. Jan and Sophia are my buddies, my parents, my supervisors etceteras. I simply take them for granted. But Hilke, she is... she is special! She is so interesting, that every she comes around, I leave whatever I am doing and go to her. I imitate her movements, try to imitate her voice (don't be alarmed, I don't talk - just her Oooooh!) and I follow her like a dog. When she is around, I descend the stairs to follow her down, I climb them to follow her up. When the family watches television together, guess on who's lap I am sitting? However, when Hilke approaches my cage, I put up my feathers a bit and when she sticks out her finger, I become a tiny bit aggressive. Hilke loves me too, but only at a distance. She would never cuddle me like Jan and especially Sophia. We can't live with each other, but we certainly can't live without each other...

No!

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When I was a fluffy little baby, I did everything to please my human parents. Now, I am becoming more and more self-willed. Fortunately for me, my family has realized from the beginning what kind of discipline I needed in all stages of my life. I know perfectly well what "No!" means, but also I know perfectly well that being deaf has its advantages... but somehow, my family always manages to do things their way, even if it is by only removing the forbidden object!


Vidandy

The last couple of weeks, Jan has been busy practicing Vivaldi on his harmonica. Perhaps I don't talk, but this sound is irresistible! I will be the first classical swinging parrot in the world. Listen to me practicing scales, don't they sound professional?

Not a Talker

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I am more than one and a half years old now and the family is convinced now that I will never really talk. Of course I possess a lot of sounds, but talking, no (except Hoi, meaning Hi). But don't think they love me less for it! I am still the most spoiled parrot in the whole world, as you might have guessed from this diary.


Her New Job

Sophia started her new job today. Why is it worth mentioning? Because my, Dandy's, site gave her the job in the first place! She came back this afternoon, very tired because of all the new impressions, but so far she thinks it will be a nice job. Keep going, Sophia.

Turkey

For the first time in her life, Sophia had decided to keep a diary of Hilke and her week in Turkey. They had such a wonderful time and experienced so many exciting things, that Sophia said it would be worth writing a book about it. However, this is no book, but written as a letter to her best friend Lisbeth. You might enjoy it too... I think... I hope... Well, why don't you judge for yourself? (See http://sophiaburns.com)

Back Home

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They are back! When I woke up this morning, I had the surprise of my lifetime. Not only did I see Jan, but there Hilke and Sophia were too!!! They could tell that I was very happy, but I couldn't know how much Sophia had missed me...


Traveling

Tonight, at two o'clock in the morning, a taxi will pick up Hilke and Sophia to take them to the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. They'll be gone for a whole week! Jan is close to tears and I am highly excited because of all the hustle and bustle with clothes, passports and tickets, but the two ladies are almost on their way... DO be careful in a foreign land, won't you?

Bye Town Hall!

Sophia's last day at her former job... today she said goodbye to all her colleages. She has had a wonderful six years with them and with the work she did, but it is time to move on... First, she'll be free for two weeks. Not that she will spend all her time with me, no sirree, Hilke and Sophia will go on holiday to Turkey! Jan, we'll have a wonderful time together, don't you think so?

Enschede Disaster

All over the world it has been a headline news topic: there has been a huge disaster in Enschede, the Netherlands. A fireworks factory has exploded in a residential area; many persons were killed and maimed. Since Jan, Hilke and Sophia have a lot of friends in Enschede, they are deeply affected by what has happened there. There are no words to describe how terrible they feel about it; the people who were affected, receive their deepest, sincerest sympathy. Also, having a job at the fire brigade herself, Sophia shares the feelings of the four firemen, who lost their life trying to prevent the disaster.

Toothbrush Time

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Sophia and I have grown into a new habit. Every time when she brushes her teeth and I happen to be out of my cage, I fly on her shoulder and we sing a duet together. She sings beautiful trills when the toothbrush moves against her lips. At least, they sound nice to me - everybody else thinks she has gone mad. Ah well, you can't please all.


Molting

I have started molting! Up to now I still had my first baby feathers, but now the bright colors start coming. Every time somebody scratches my head, tiny feathers fall off my head. I can already feel the pins of the new-growing feathers, what a marvelous design, eh?

Water

Jan noticed that I have a funny relationship with water. Although frequently I try to step in my water bowl and take a bath (unfortunately only one of my claws fits in it), as soon as taps, water basins and spray bottles come near me, I am at the other end of the room and stay there. Still, Jan insists on my biweekly showers. He has no mercy whatsoever.

The Great Outdoors

Jan and Sophia took me outside again. I really liked it this time. Jan tried to put on my new harness, but when I panicked, he stopped trying to put it on. Ah well, the chain around my leg isn't as bad as I always thought. I know now I can't fly with it and that's about all the limitation it gives. Somehow however, I am afraid I haven't seen the last of this harness either. My family can be so persistent at times!

Hurray!

Last night, Sophia couldn't sleep a wink... she was jumpy all afternoon... Jan and Hilke were high in the sky... she got a phone call that she was selected for the job!!!!! Congratulations, dear Sophia. As for me, I showed my gratitude during her telephone conversation by whistling and shouting. Her colleague-to-be asked if this was the famous parrot that he heard over the phone line? It was, and proud Sophia was of it too.

D-Day

The day of Sophia's practical test for the job at the housing association... Has she been bragging? Did she lie during the interview and will she be exposed as being a braggart? Don't worry Sophia, remember that you were selected because you showed off with my site? Besides, you have a nice job already. If you were to be selected, remember what you will leave behind: nice colleagues, a pleasant job and a lot of security being a civil servant.

Nervous

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Today, it was my turn to be nervous. Already, I noticed the days getting longer and the sun getting sunnier and today Jan decided is was time to take me outside again. Outside! Where the trees waver over your head, the wind attacks you from unpredictable angles and the birds are so noisy. What makes things worse, is that dreadful chain around your leg. However, I liked being outside. I wasn't half as nervous as my family expected. Soon, Jan and Sophia will try on my new harness.


Second Interview

Sophia has been selected for a second interview!!! Next Tuesday, she has to put into practice what she knows by creating a site about an as yet unknown subject. She is very, very nervous... and so are Jan and Hilke. Me, I feel the same as always. Happy and careless.

A New Job?

You never guess what has happened: I, Dandy, have provided a job interview for Sophia! The Housing Association had a vacancy for a Webmaster to make a complete site about them. Although Sophia has had no specific education in this branch, she decided to apply for the job anyway. She referred to MY very site to show what she is able to do, and guess what? She was invited for an interview!

Something In the Air

As springtime is getting nearer, the family is getting more and more restless. Today it was lovely and sunny outside, so they were leaping and singing all day. I love all this hustle and bustle around me.

All Good Things...

All good things must come to an end. My wonderful life of the past two weeks is over, sigh. Almost three weeks after she fell off the horse, Sophia started work again this morning. All her colleagues asked how the horse was. Sophia said it is doing just fine. Nobody asked how she felt. I don't know why she came home so moody.

Getting Better

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It is obvious that Sophia has reached the best stage of being ill. Still too weak to start working again, but not too ill to watch television, read a book, listen to music and talk to me. I am getting to be the most spoiled, attention-submerged bird in the whole world. But still I manage to stay very modest, social and far from spoilt, but that's just me. I am such a great guy!


Sneeze! Cough! Lovely!

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Jan and Hilke have no life of their own right now. Just when Sophia started to almost feel well enough to start working again, she got the flu on top of it. What a joy for me! Just imagine all the sounds: "Sneeze! Cough! Moan! Groan!" Besides, I have had around-the-clock company for almost a week now. Sophia didn't leave her room once.


Compassion

Sophia said her head feels slightly better today. However, she is so stiff and sore, that you can hear all her muscles creak with every step. I love that sound even better than her groaning. I'll try to copy it: "Creak, crack!" Ah, there she said yesterday's favorite word: "Groan! Stop it, Dandy!"

Ouch!

Tonight, Sophia came home after horse riding with a slight concussion in the head. The horse was startled, had jumped away and off she went. I feel pity for her, but not enough to keep quiet. Normally, she doesn't mind my singing one bit, but now she keeps moaning and saying how noisy I am. Can't help it Sophia, I'm just happy that you are here, in this room, lying on the couch and making all those dreadful noises. Keep doing it!

Kingdom Melodies

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I am learning a new song: one of the Kingdom songs of the family. Listen and behold what a great whistler I am becoming! You can hear that I don't mind one bit what song is playing in the meantime: I sing my own tune, in my own key, with my own voice, not matter what the radio does.


Good Bird!

The family had visitors again, nice! Naturally I did my shy act again, so although everybody begged me to sing or whistle, I was as quiet as a mouse. However, I clearly enjoyed myself and loved to be passed from hand to hand. One of the ladies wanted to kiss me, and she kept asking if I would bite her lip. My family explained that although they kiss me the whole day through, I am an undomesticated animal by nature and thus somewhat unpredictable. She kissed me anyway and of course I let her. I am not all that bad!

Ten Toy Commandments

Sophia put a new toy in my cage. Do you know the Ten New Toy Commandments? Thou shalt fly around the room as if thou art about to be slaughtered.Thou shalt stay away from it as far as possible.Thou shalt be suspicious of it for several days.Thou shalt keep an eye on it at all times.Thou shalt pussyfoot around it several times.Thou shalt realize it is not going to attack.Thou shalt not be afraid anymore.Thou shalt approach it carefully.Thou shalt love to play with it.Thou shalt not rest before it is ripped to pieces.

No Reason

I am getting to be such a mature, balanced parrot and yet, sometimes, I act like I am crazy. Take last night: I went to bed as usual, my family switched off the light in my room and they all got ready for bed as well. Suddenly and unexpectedly, I got a major panic attack! I flew wildly through my cage, hurt myself and scared the whole family. They switched on the light, comforted me and waited till I was quiet again (this took a long, long time) and went to bed again. They don't know what had happened to me, but I am not sure if I know it myself. This morning, I was well again. Sorry people, I take sides with Mary Poppins: I never explain anything.

Communication

I am the smartest bird in the universe!!! (I am known to be exaggerating at times, sorry.) This evening I perched in my cage and Sophia was sitting next to me, when I gave her my attention call ("hoi" in Jan's voice). Since I use it for almost everything, normally Sophia uses all her "telepathic" abilities to guess what I mean. Normally, she is right. This time, she was certain that I wanted to be taken out of my cage and she agreed that it was about time. However, I refused to come out, but nibbled on her finger (gently) and ran to my seed bowl and pretended to be eating. I was hungry and I knew how to show it! Sophia couldn't obey my order any quicker than she did. Now, I have finished my last bite and now I am ready to be taken out. Stop typing, Sophia! Come and take me out of here! "Hoi!"

Spring in Winter

Although it is only February, today the weather was exceptionally soft for the time of the year. So Sophia decided to take me outside again, for the first time since several months. What an experience! I saw cars, birds, people on bicycles... I really have to get used to that again! Besides, I honestly don't why it is necessary to put that horrid chain around my claw, Sophia!

Worries

Today the weather is delightful. Everyone in the family has spring in their heads, but it is way too cold to take me outside still. They are a bit nervous about it already, because I have been inside the house for over half a year. Will I still remember how it was there? Besides, I have never tried on my new harness. They wonder if I will accept it. Worries, worries! People, just enjoy the weather and stop thinking about me! You know how balanced I am... but probably that's just the thing that worries them.

Disney Opera

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When I become a grown up, I will be an opera singer. I am a natural talent; judge for yourself how skillful I trill along with the seven Dwarfs. Better than Snow White herself, don't you agree?



Spoiled!

My family noticed something: they love me so much that I am getting to be a bit too spoiled. In the beginning I never asked to be taken out of my aviary (being two cubical meters in size), but now I fold myself into a little package in one corner of the cage to be taken out, every time I see a family member. Although I know how much their hearts must bleed, they ignore me during those times. They keep their regular schedule, which means I am allowed to be out of my cage three or four times a day, almost an hour each time. Deep in my heart I realize it is more than enough, but as I approach my adolescence, I try to push them as far as I can.

Pet of the Day

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I am so proud, I am Pet of the Day!


Noise!

The housing company decided that all their houses should be made burglar proof. The family quite liked that, because they say they have something precious in their house (I am modest enough not to know what that could be). So this morning, very early, the front door bell rang... some five minutes later... CRASH! DRILL! BANG BANG BANG! The whole house was shaking! Naturally I am used to Jan doing odd jobs around the house, but this was something entirely different. I am not easily scared (just read what happened during the Millennium night), but this time I didn't like it too much. I climbed and climbed and climbed all over my cage and showed my nervousness in every way I could. In the end the family became a bit nervous themselves, but finally, the workmen left and everything went back to normal. Except that Jan has to think of a place where to put an additional 18 keys and how to keep track which one belongs to which window or door.

Chocolate Galore

It has been a long time since I recorded an accident, because I am not such a clumsy toddler anymore. Earlier this evening the family drank coffee together. Normally I am not invited, but I had been home alone for a long time so today they made an exception. You might guess what happened... Sophia's hot chocolate was on the table and so was her biscuit. I wanted to know more about the latter, flew on the table and hit the cup with the tip of my wing! Down went the cup and out went the hot chocolate, all over the table which was covered with Hilke's magazines and letters, the manual of Jan's new telescope and an expensive book of his. Hilke was furious, Jan was furious and even Sophia was furious for losing her hot chocolate (she can be a bit childish at times). The only person who couldn't care less was the culprit himself, because the family knows better than to work off their bad temper on me.

Naughty! Stout!

Finally, finally my family is starting to believe that I will learn to talk. I am learning a new word: "Stout!" (Dutch for "naughty"). Every time that I drop a toy on purpose, my family tells me I am "Stout!", just for the fun of it. I love that sound, so I have been practicing for days now. It still sounds like "How!", but everyone knows what I mean! Why don't you listen to it yourself?


Who's the Boss

I have observed this before, but it is amazing how I behave differently with all my family members. For instance, when Jan puts me back in my cage, I jump on his arm again and cunningly find my way out of the cage and on his shoulder. When he tries to get me on his hand again to put me back. Haha! I know this very spot, just between the shoulder blades, where he can never reach me. With Sophia it is entirely different. When she puts me back in my cage, I wouldn't even dream of protesting. She doesn't even have to close the door in a hurry. Jan is as jealous as you can be, but Sophia keeps laughing and keeps a secret how she does it!

Sing Along Songs

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Sophia was listening to one of her favorite songs when I decided it was my favorite song too. Listen to how I sing to the swinging Beatles. Don't you agree my voice is much, much better? Sophia almost half thinks so, but not almost entirely...


Miracles Do Happen

Just when you think miracles don't happen... they start right away! Somehow, the family thinks that regular showers are necessary for me, but up to now I hated them; I did everything to get away from them. But today, as an exception, I couldn't get enough of it. I spread my wings (which I usually don't do during a shower) and even jumped in the sink. Jan put on the tap to let the water drip and I took a long, long shower. Honestly, I don't really know what was wettest: me, Jan, Sophia or the rest of the kitchen.

Hide & Seek

It is still holiday time, so Jan brought me to Sophia to wake her up. Normally I am only allowed to do this in the weekends, but this time Jan made an exception. I was so happy! I gave Sophia a million kisses and when Jan came in the room to see how we were doing, I crawled under the blankets as far as I could for fear he would take me back to my cage. Jan couldn't stop laughing. Normally he can't get away from me no matter how hard he tries!

No Teeth? Pah!

Today, once again, I showed my teeth; this time to no other than Sophia! When she took me out of my cage, suddenly I realized that I was in a room with foreign furniture, so I wanted to fly away! She thought if she would just hold me, I would become quiet again as had often happened before. Not this time however. I struggled and when she still didn't let go I BIT her in her finger! Fortunately, Sophia understands the nature of parrots very well, so she didn't try to punish me. Let this be a warning for all parrot owners: we are not as civilized as we like to pretend!!!

...Something New

Sophia's new furniture arrived this morning. Bah! This meant that I was very, very quiet and shy all day. The family knows by now that this is just temporarily, but so far I don't enjoy it as much as they do. When they brought the couch and chair in the room, I sat on my perch and looked down disapprovingly. Needless to say that no one paid any attention to my opinion...

My Hilke

It is very strange, but although Jan and Sophia pay most attention to me, I have chosen Hilke as my favorite character. Take this morning: Sophia took me downstairs as usual, Jan had a nice treat ready to give to me. And guess what? As soon as I discovered Hilke, I flew on the floor and followed her as if I was a little dog! Needless to say that Jan and Sophia were absolutely jealous...

Nothing New Please

Sophia has a two weeks off her job. I know I am going to be spoiled the coming days! However, the day didn't start so good because she has decided to buy a new couch and a new office chair. Puh-lease! Don't you know how I hate new things?!

A New Millennium!

It's all over!!! The world survived the millennium bug, the coming month the environment will work hard to get rid of all the pollution caused by the fireworks and life will continue as before for most people. As for me, I am proud to announce that I have survived last night gloriously. In our street, the bangs were so loud that you couldn't understand each other even when shouting. The family had switched on the TV as loud as possible so that I wouldn't be scared too much, but guess what?! I never blinked one eye!!! I sat quietly on my perch and let it all come over me. Jan was so proud of me that he announced he would kiss me in the morning. Today is not only the start of a new millennium. It also happens to be a very special anniversary for all of us. Exactly one year ago, on 1 January 1999, I came to live with the family. Which means that I am one year and five weeks old today!