CP300 Piano IMG_1061Life takes its twists and turns and I never know whether I’m going to wake up dreading the inevitable or embracing the challenge – or stuck somewhere in between.

Over the Thanksgiving Day holiday I had time to play piano for the birds…and to again ponder the sad state of my Yamaha P150 which I purchased perhaps 15 years ago, as a dealer’s floor model, and in the past half year or so was no longer inspiring to play. Sometimes it seemed to take forever to warm up to volume. And now a key was sticking, or stuttering loudly. Servicing would probably fix all this, but I would have trouble moving the keyboard into the car, let alone finding someone to service it – not to mention however long that would take, and I would be without an instrument to play.

So as I was looking about for some help with the existing instrument I ran across testimonials about the Yamaha CP300, which apparently has been out for years (but so have I) – and when I read a review from one concert pianist who said he prefers practicing on this instrument, it was all over. Why not get one? About the cost of another trip to Costa Rica, which I am not doing right now: and it would last me a lot longer than a one-week trip.

Knowing the quality of Yamaha’s keyboard instruments, I had absolutely no hesitation to simply press the button and order the new piano keyboard from The biggest obstacle was figuring out how to be home for the delivery, because if nothing else I am no longer capable of handling a 94-pound dead weight myself. And UPS, which gives me warning a day in advance when it will be delivering something as unimportant as a calendar, gave me no warning what time the delivery was going to be attempted. I left work early after tracking the package but missed the driver by half an hour.

Luckily my friends Linda and Ed Rios came to my rescue and we picked up the piano from UPS the night of its missed delivery.

I made the recording above of Eric Satie’s Trois Gymnopedies yesterday afternoon. I have never learned it well enough to memorize it, so there are page turns, but the birds are singing along here and there.

I am in love with the new instrument and I feel like playing again. So much so that I have decided to alter my work schedule a bit in January so I can come in half an hour later a couple days a week and play in the morning before I leave for work. It is a shame to have only the weekends to play and then if I am doing something else in the morning being too tired or busy to play later.

I’ve been able to play more this weekend because my mobility has been compromised by some issues with my right knee. So except for the pain it’s been a relaxing weekend with lots of naps and hanging out with the indoor crowd as I get to know them better. I will see a doctor tomorrow and ask for a shot and an opinion, so I can get back to walking at my usual clip.

Now for a word about Dudley the Diamond Dove. Dudley started laying eggs a couple weeks ago…so she is now Dudlee. I know of two additional eggs that have broken because of where she has dropped them.

Dudlee's egg collection

Dudlee’s egg collection

I have a lot to learn about doves. Apparently with Diamond Doves, both sexes sing. And Dudlee has two sounds. One vocalization is akin to blowing on an empty bottle. But the other is a lovely coo, and it’s always two notes. You can hear her sing it in the video below.

Dudlee hiding behind the broccoli

Dudlee hiding behind the broccoli

I also managed to record the two male Zebra Finches tonight, whose songs are still developing. Thus I have not yet named them. They seem to spend a lot of time fighting over territory, which involves chasing and cursing each other, but they have not come to blows so I guess it’s just a guy thing.

The first one’s song has a refrain, the cadence of which first reminded me of a Black Rail, but he is adding notes to the beginning of it, so I am hoping for a name to reveal itself soon.

The second one gave a little concert tonight as he foraged for nesting material.

So far, the new finch hens have been laying but nothing has hatched. Could be the time of year or simply the time it is taking for everyone to get settled in. Of course Dudlee’s eggs will never hatch, but maybe her gender explains part of the special relationship she has with Blue the lone budgie. She and Blue now share a perch at night and they sit feather-to-feather.

Dudlee in the Kitchen Window

Dudlee in the Kitchen Window

Blue and Dudlee 12-14-14-8878

Blue and Dudlee hanging out above a Society Finch nest

Things are getting back to normal on the most important level: I am playing music for birds again.

Ode to Vincenzo

Vincenzo, one of my male Zebra Finches, died Friday. Or at least that’s when I found him. He had been sick for perhaps a month or more. Confusing the issue was Fabrizio, the original Zebra Finch and if not Vincenzo’s father, his grandfather or even great-grandfather, who is also not feeling well, which I attribute to his age of more than 10 years. Fabrizio has started singing again, however feebly, but Vincenzo had been quiet for such a long time, I had all but forgotten about him.

That is, until I spent three hours in the dentist’s chair Saturday morning. Left with my mind to play Bach’s A Minor English Suite over and over again, I was also frustrated that Fabrizio was still singing and I had a dead Zebra Finch I had not identified. It was only under the clarity of local anesthesia and not being distracted by going anywhere that I suddenly realized the missing bird was indeed Vincenzo. I said “Oh!” and the dentist stopped whatever it was she was doing, asking me if I was in pain. No, not at all, I explained, I had just figured out that Vincenzo was dead.

I’m feeling terrible that I did not have the presence of mind over the last week to tune into his individual absence while he was still struggling to stay alive. One morning a few days ago he was flopping around on the floor, seemingly too weak to fly, and I picked him up and put him in the bottom of the first finch cage, so he could eat if he was so inclined, or if he was going to die, it was a “safe” place. When I came home later that day he was out of the cage. It’s possible he went off to die where I found him Friday night, tucked under the skirt of the futon cover…

Now I know the little ball of feathers I saw sitting tightly wound up into itself the last couple weeks was Vincenzo trying to stay warm. Only a few days ago he was huddled together with Fabrizio, as they took to caring for each other that way.

I managed to find a tape recorded January 14, 2012 with Vincenzo. I was just starting to revive Albeniz’s Tango, and he’s singing with it. Only he hadn’t been singing his entire song lately, just the first part of it. The whole song went, “I’m a Zebra Finch, and my name is Vince, Vincenzo, Cenzo, Zebra Finch.” Here he’s only singing the first part of it, over and over again, “I’m a Zebra Finch, and my name is Vince.” Adolfo is singing very loudly in the beginning of the piece, but the rest of the recording is Vincenzo’s. He is quieter, probably farther away from the microphone. He also solos a little bit after I stop playing.

Now my Zebra Finch population is now down to eight birds. Seven males and one female. The surviving males are Fabrizio, Adolfo, Beniamino, Pietro, Rodolfo, Zorro and Gregorio. They all still join in the dawn chorus, but it’s diminished considerably from the old days.