When Shannon Cutts and Pearl first meet, she is still mourning the sudden passing of her first cockatiel, Jacob. The last thing she wants to do is to fall in love with another baby parrot! But one look at the tiny grey ball of fluff and Shannon just knows – he is love with wings, and they are meant to be together.
A lifelong parrot lover but by no means experienced at caring for cockatiels, Shannon quickly assumes the role of eager student, with Pearl as her willing and equally eager teacher. From negotiating victuals preferences to socializing with the parrot-phobic, making home improvements to avoiding the dreaded V.E.T., Shannon learns from her feathery sidekick how to meet his basic needs, offer extra enrichment, nurture and care for him, and be nurtured and cared for in return.
Pearl, in turn, opens a window for Shannon into a refreshing new world full of self-acceptance, self-respect, trust, laughter, love, and FUN. In Pearl’s world, everyone is a potential new friend, every mirror reflects prettiness, every meal is a celebration of good food and good company, and each new day is a great day to celebrate being YOU.
Today, 12 years after their first meeting, Shannon and Pearl are still blissfully joined at the beak. Love & Feathers, a book based on the popular blog by the same name, is their story.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
My cockatiel, Pearl, and I have been together since he was a downy five-week-old chick. Several years ago I launched a blog called "Love & Feathers" to share our adventures with a wider audience. The blog quickly caught on and readers seemed to love the daily posts about our life together.
Then one year I decided to fly up to Cape Cod to meet my parents for a family vacation. But I missed Pearl so much while we were apart that I started jotting down stories from our years together. My folks loved the short stories I would read to them each night!
These short stores became "Love & Feathers" the book, which was embraced by our blog followers. Then I started working on a follow up book called "Waffles & More: A Love and Feathers Recipe Book." This book came about because my mom is an amazing chef and Pearl loves spending time with her in the kitchen.
I will be honest – I can't cook my way out of a paper bag but am always on hand to take photos and videos so I can blog about it later. Followers started asking for the recipes to the delicious delicacies they saw on Pearl's blog and the book was in the works shortly thereafter.
Must Love Birds
excerpt from "Love & Feathers" by Shannon Cutts
When my family and I were vacationing on Cape Cod this past fall, the weather was so beautiful that Mom and I went out walking nearly every day. One afternoon we were attempting to take JP Morgan, my folks’ couch-loving dachshund, for his afternoon drag when we met a neighbor who was also out walking her pets. She had with her two dogs and one….cat. The woman was rather advanced in years but her trio was young and spry. The cat in particular, leashless next to the two hapless constrained canines, was practicing an escalating series of evasive maneuvers between the legs of its housemates. In appearance, it was lithe and lean with keen green eyes and reddish-brown fur interspersed with white stripes.
Initially the woman stopped to talk with us about the weather, but the conversation quickly turned to pets. When we praised the youth and sleek attractiveness of hers, she lamented, “Yes, but unfortunately my cat is a turning into a serial killer. Yesterday he caught and nearly killed a gopher and brought it into the house. It got free. I tried to catch it, but it ran up my pajama leg and then out onto my head. As I was sprinting outside to shake it off, my cat brought in a second near-dead gopher and released it in the house.”
Yet cats continue to outrank birds on the “most popular pet list” year after year. Perhaps this is because, as one is cunning predator and the other delicious and unsuspecting prey, cats keep offing their competition. As a parront, I have been the recipient of all too many of what I call “I had a bird once…” stories. These are the stories that start out well enough, where the happy interspecies family is peacefully cohabitating together, at least until one of its furrier members falls prey to instinct or an empty cat food dish. Next thing you know, the family member with the feathers is MIA and a full scale FBI investigation has been launched, leading to the discovery of telltale incriminating clues like flight feathers near the litter box. Case closed.
This issue is not particularly relevant to Pearl and myself since “felines” routinely makes our annual list of top-ten-perils-to-avoid. Where it becomes a bit more challenging is in the world of online dating, when a potential match neglects to mention a critical lifestyle preference – for instance, owning a cat.
Don’t get me wrong. As of the moment I’m penning this chapter, I have not yet met any “potential match” (that is what most online dating sites call their victims) for coffee or otherwise where the sole clear disqualifying factor has been the presence of a household feline. The one who used methamphetamines was an easy no in my book, as was the one who confessed on our first (and only) date to a raging case of OCD, after which he proceeded to scientifically measure out and then cross-check the portions of wine he poured for each of us. Similarly, the one who arrived an hour late and then spent the rest of our date explaining in great detail why any woman should be grateful to wait for him and the one who scratched his balls for a solid hour while consuming multiple martinis were both out.
As of this moment, actually, online dating itself has been out for quite some years now, and has already been pre-added to future years’ top ten perils list. This preventative safety measure was instituted after my (hopefully very) last online dating date, when my date shared over twin steaming pots of custom-blended organic tea how much he loved his two indoor cats, and how, as he watched them eyeing the songbirds in the trees outside, he worried that by not letting them out to chase and kill the birds he was depriving them of “quality of life.”
I thought briefly of depriving him of quality of life before I decided I would miss Pearl too much while in prison.
So instead, I cancelled my online dating membership and used the refund money to buy my small feathery guy a few crunchy new birdie chew toys and a delicious pack of fresh “original” flavor millet stalks.
After all, Pearl and I found each other – at a moment where the very last goal on my mind was to fall in love with a new baby parrot. If it can happen once, it can happen again – as long as I am willing to trust in the timing of all good things…..and good people who must love birds.
Lessons with Wings: Love never lies. As it turns out, Pearl’s presence in my life is an excellent litmus test for the people I invite into my life as well. Pets, like kids, are transparent – they like you, or they don’t like you. If I catch myself thinking, “my bird wouldn’t like such-and-so,” or if Pearl hisses and pecks at a visitor instead of his more customary single-bound leap forward onto even the rankest stranger’s outstretched finger, that is a sign I should also pay attention to – and do.
Links to Purchase Print Books
Buy Love & Feathers: what a palm-sized parrot has taught me about life, love, and healthy self-esteem Print Edition at Amazon
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Links to Purchase eBooks – Click links for book samples and reviews
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