Jared meets his match in an aggressive little Senegal parrot named Cricket, who ultimately charms Jared and changes his life for the better. Jared keeps a large scarlet macaw feather as a memento of the relationships in his life that led to his becoming a “flock leader.”
Mementos Season 1, Episode 5: Jared’s Flock
Guest: Jared H.
Visit www.MementosPodcast.com to see some photos of the memento in this episode.
Follow the show @MementosPodcast on Twitter and Instagram.
Follow the Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/mementospodcast
Follow Lori at @mortaymortay on Twitter and Instagram
Lori Mortimer – Host, Sound Designer, Producer
Jared H. – Guest (Jared has a gaming podcast called Parrot Talk.)
Galen Beebe – Story Editor
Alyssa Duvak – Social Media
Kenneth Donahue for “Good Boy”
Martin Austwick for the Mementos audio logo
“Borough,” “Pedalrider,” “Let Go Gecko,” and “Checkered Blue” by Blue Dot Sessions (www.sessions.blue).
Mementos Season 1, Episode 5: Jared’s Flock
Lori: Mementos. Sometimes what you really keep is on the inside.
Jared: So I, uh, I walked into Emily’s family house then various in the kitchen, and he’s just staring at you with these watching every movement you make. She goes and gets some, opens the cage and you know, he’s, he’s able to fly. He’s got his feathers.
They’re not clipped, but he sits just on her and he just stares. He would fluff up a little bit and he puff his wings out a little bit, kind of get a little huffy at ya and he just make himself look about two or three times bigger. And it wasn’t like he was looking at you more as looking through when he wanted to be aggressive.
The first introduction of me and Cricket was him turning around to bite my finger and making me bleed. He was, he was a demon.
Lori: Welcome to Mementos. I’m Lori Mortimer.
You know, it makes sense that people like to talk about mementos that remind them of someone who’s passed away. But it’s also nice to hear somebody talk about a memento that has deep meaning to their own personal journey. Today we’re gonna hear about a memento that’s tied to that little Senegal parrot, Cricket. Cricket isn’t very big. He stands about 9 inches tall. And he weighs no more five or six ounces.
But that little guy made big impact on my guest’s life.
Be sure to listen all the way to the end today because I’ve dropped something special after the credits. Ok. On to the story.
Jared: My name is Jared. I’m from central Wisconsin,
Lori: Wisconsin, huh? Guess what Jared does for a living.
Jared: I make cheese.
Jared: Um, yeah, I know very Wisconsinite of me. [Laughter]
Lori: Also very Monty Python.
Monty Python clip: Blessed are the cheese-makers!
Lori: And even though Jared humored me when I barraged him with cheese-related questions,
Jared: uh, I mean, Parmesan is Parmesan, no matter what, uh, acidity level.
Lori: That’s not what he came to talk about.
Jared: The object that I wanted to talk about today, which I actually brought with us, is a giant macaw tail feather. Specifically, it’s a scarlet macaw feather. It has quite significant meaning to me because of the impact parrots have made in my life.
The tail feather of a scarlet macaw — some people don’t really know how big they actually are — it’s actually the size of my forearm, believe it or not.
Lori: Scarlet macaws are the big red and blue parrots. Like the ones you see on a pirate’s shoulder. But Jared’s not a pirate, mateys. He’s an air force veteran, a blessed cheesemaker, and he’s here to tell us about….
Jared: My journey into fatherhood of, of parrots.
Lori: The story starts with little Cricket. About seven or eight years ago, Jared was dating a young woman named Emily.
She was in college nearby. Cricket was Emily’s her pet. But he lived across the state with her parents. So she asked Jared if it would be okay if Cricket moved in with him, so that she could see him more often.
Jared: I was a little naïve, just because I’m dog whisperer and a cat whisperer. Like, every animal loves me.
When he actually bit me on that first go around, I was like, all right, this might be a little bit tougher than it was going to be. And, uh, I kind of took it upon myself that I was like, I was gonna make him my friend. Just simply because no animal hates me.
Lori: Jared’s mission: Win Cricket over. Codename: Parrot persuasion.
Jared: The way I had it set up was I had a long couch, and then in the corner was Cricket with his cage. And then I had a loveseat, and I would sit next to his cage. And I’d just sit there and chat with Cricket and be like, Hey buddy, what’s up?
I would cut up these little strips of paper, and then I’d kind of fold them in half until it became like a little scratching stick. And put it through his cage, and I’d scratch his noggin. Or I’d open the cage and I’d give him like a blackberry or a blueberry or some kind of treat.
And I would slowly reinforce that, Hey, I’m not a bad guy. I’m here to make your day, buddy.
I got some pretty nasty bites. ’Cause, you know, I was like, all right, I can go in for a step up. And no, not even close. Like he definitely let me have at one time. And I was like, no, he was not ready. And so, you know, that’s where I got my pretty big scar on my thumb, where he tried to gnaw it off.
Lori: Jared built up trust with Cricket over about four or five months, but he still hadn’t turned the corner. And then Jared got the flu and was home for several days in a row.
Jared: And I worked very intensely with Cricket, kind of, you know, letting him out, letting him just free roam around the house.
And finally, on the third day, when I was finally starting to feel a little bit better, he crawled up and sat on my shoulder. And then parrots will do this weird thing where they’ll turn around, and then they’ll put their head in their back, which is basically like their way of sleeping.
And he ended up doing that while I was sick at home. And that was kind of like, okay, he’s now my friend.
Lori: Cricket and Jared really bonded. And like any roommates, they learned each other’s routines and their quirks.
Jared: He knew little phrases. Um, I drink a lot of fizzy water, and I like, I like my sodas every once in a while. And he learned the opening of a can of soda. One day I was sitting in my bedroom, and all of a sudden I hear that [sound effect of can opening].
And I’m like, Emily’s not here. Wait, what? And then I, and I look out and there’s Cricket, just kind of sitting there. And I’m like, all right, buddy.
I would come home at night. I always worked second or third shift. He’d kind of fluff up. I’d hear him fluffing, and he’d make it a little squeak. And I’d open the door. And then he’d come on top of the cage.
He would actually fly to my shoulder and hang out with me. There are countless nights where I’d be watching TV and he’d be on my shoulder. He’d be on my knee. And he would just fall asleep for like an hour or two. And I’d be like, all right, Cricket, it’s actually time for you to go to bed, bud.
You know, so it was, it was just the nightly relationship that we ended up having that really cemented how much I would love this little guy.
So I ended up kind of losing Cricket and, uh, and Emily, when she went away on an internship. Our lives were just kind of deviating in different paths.
Like, I was very sad for Emily, but I was, like, very sad that I no longer had my feathery friend at home. You know, there’s this bird that would just. Jared, hi, welcome. You know, Welcome home, buddy. It’s like, Hey, you come over here and you fly over my shoulder. You know, we’d eat breakfast together. He’d steal a noodle off of my fork as I’m eating.
This guy was a big part of my life, even when she wasn’t there. So, like, the loss of a loved one, as well as the loss of a very, very close animal was just absolutely devastating.
When Cricket and Emily kind of left, I was by myself. It was kind of my transition from, from Emily and Cricket to, uh, this feathery void that I had in my soul.
And so a gentleman had a scarlet macaw who needed a new home. She was a beautiful sassy macaw. I visited her about three times, and I almost adopted her, but she just would’ve been too big for my tiny little apartment.
Lori: On one of the visits, Scarlet’s owner gave Jared one of her tail feathers. And that feather is the memento he’s talking about today.
Jared: The reason why I kept the feather was it was kind of like a nice little introduction into being a flock leader, is what I call myself. And that was kind of like my first step into the world of parrots by myself.
Emily and I were very, very close. We had a hardcore relationship, you know, over parrots and, and my love for parrots and how I took care of Cricket. When I transitioned into, um, going off on my own, it kind of reminded me of taking that first step to where I was reaching out, trying to, trying to find a flock of my own.
Lori: Bonding with Cricket and visiting Scarlet really sealed the deal for Jared. He left the nest and set out to find his flock.
Jared: I ended up adopting an old man by the name of Harley. Uh, then I, you know, he was looking sad. So I was like, all right, I’ve got to get the young buck for the old bull, you know, rejuvenate him a little bit.
That’s where Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third came into play. That is actually his official name, Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third. Blue ’cause he’s blue. Nibbles cause he nibbles on everything. And the Third, because he’s my third parrot.
Lori: Unfortunately, Harley started having seizures and eventually passed away.
Jared: Blue had this like sad, sad Panda look on his face one day. And I was just like, all right, I need to get you a new buddy.
Now I’ve got my two best friends, a sun conure by the name of Helios and a blue monk parrot by the name of Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third.
Lori: Like any pets, Blue and Helios have their own personalities.
Jared: They don’t actually like to sit on my shoulder and hang out with me while I watch TV. I, I consider them more of gargoyles. You know, they just kind of sit there and hang out with me throughout the day. They make cute little noises. They’re my alarm clock.
You know, they, they provide some sort of companionship, especially during this COVID stuff. They have definitely taught me patience. They they’ve taught me, uh, to be understanding of what they want. And they really kind of taught me their own little language.
You know, these cute little squeaks that you hear in the background, they’re just, they’re like, Dad’s talkin’. So we’re going to talk, too. We’re going to make noise.
Um, you know, Helios has got his wake up call where he literally will just [parrot squawks three times].
Until he just feels satisfied that like I get up and get out. Blue, when he’s upset about something, he gets into his cage and he does the South Park “rabble rabble rabble” [sound of Blue making “rabble rabble rabble” sound].
Lori: I think one of the coolest things about parrots is that some of them can talk. And Jared’s been teaching Blue a few phrases.
Jared: Who’s a good boy?
Blue: Who’s a good boy?
Jared: Gimme kiss.
Blue: Gimme kiss.
Jared: You know, a lot of parrot owners will say, you know, uh, you know, oh, if you’re a great parrot owner, you never get bit. I, I call shenanigans on that. I get bit all the time. And that’s, that’s simply because I, I want to show them that I’m the alpha of the flock, you know?
Lori: Well, I’d say flock hierarchy may still be a work in progress. Here’s what happened when I asked Jared to bring the birds closer to the mic.
Jared: It may be a process. Hold on. Come here. No, don’t even. Don’t do it. No. No. Why are parrots so difficult? One second.
Jared: The feather has a lot, a lot of deep meaning. When Emily came into my life, we both kind of had the understanding of like, hey, you know, no marriage, no this, no that, you know. This is just kind of, you know, something fun while I’m in school. So when I met her, I kind of started to invoke these feelings of, you know, like, hey, this could be something real.
And she kind of started getting real with it, too. And that’s about when she brought up Cricket. And, you know, we’re coming up on our year anniversary is like, this is big news, this is a big deal. I’m getting her parrot. I’m getting a girl. And like, we were doing awesome.
You know, these parrots are an extension of mine and hers relationship. And the feather’s kind of the end of the era of Emily and Cricket and the here-I-am-now with the two goobers that I have sitting behind my computer, uh, you know, as we’re talking.
Like, so it kinda signifies the transition of this, this amazing relationship that I, you know, that I basically cemented into my life.
My parents are still weirded out about the fact that I’m a parrot guy now. They’re like, Why can’t you just have a dog or something like that?
’Cause I like parrots. They’re better.
Lori: Jared, thank you for sharing your story with us. I really loved putting this episode together. This episode was written, produced and sound designed by me, Lori Mortimer. Story editing was by Galen Beebe. And listener feedback was from: Steve “Oshman” Nelson, the Pod Prod, Brenda LaPorte, Alyssa Duvak, and also Shruti Ravindran and Skye Pillsbury of The Edit.
Music in this episode is by Blue Dot Sessions and Looperman. And Martin Austwick wrote the audio logo that you hear at the top and end of every episode.
There’s just one more thing before we get to the surprise. I wanted to let you know I’ve been listening to a podcast called ‘I Always Wanted To.’ Liz Sumner is the host and she interviews people who are doing things that they always wanted to do. Sometimes it’s a career or a life change, sometimes it’s a new hobby or skill, and sometimes it’s some kind of an adventure. It inspires me to take my ‘always wanted to’ list and make it a priority in my life. So check it out. I think you’ll really enjoy it.
[00:15:37] Hey. What’s that mysterious ticking noise?
[Music: “Good Boy”]
[00:16:48] Lori: “Good Boy” was written, mixed, and produced by Kenneth Donahue, featuring Jared and Mr. Blue Nibbles the Third.