Not quite refined

This scarlet macaw stole my button, but I didn't know it until I saw this photo.Roatan, Honduras, March 2011

This scarlet macaw stole my button, but I didn’t know it until I saw this photo.
Roatan, Honduras, March 2011

“She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot.” — Mark Twain

There is nothing profound, instructive or inspirational about this quote.  It made me laugh, so I wanted to share it.  Twain’s whimsical description somehow hits just the right note, and I fancy it describes a woman who was rather like me in many ways.  I’ve never had a parrot, but I wouldn’t rule it out if I live long enough to be even more eccentric than I am now.

I hope this will bring you one of many smiles you enjoy today.  Comic relief is a blessing, and we all need more of it.  Feel free to post links to funny photos, quotes or videos in the comments below.  I didn’t get too many jokesters on April Fool’s Day, but it’s not too late!  Laughter really is the best medicine.

SPECIAL NOTE to Sheila: I schedule these posts in advance and believe it or not, I had already scheduled this one before our humorous exchange about your sun conure! I assure you I was NOT thinking of you when I read Twain’s funny quote!


  1. Sheila

    Good Tuesday morning,Julia and Jeff. Thank you for letting me know that this was forthcoming. Now it makes perfectly good sense; or nonsense, thinking back to our exchange of comments about “Walter”. I am not offended, actually flattered. Lovely photo!
    I hope a very good day awaits you. Thank you for the early morning smiles for me, and also Bill. With a prayer, Sheila

    • Hi Sheila, I didn’t catch that your sun conure’s name was Walter– PERFECT name for a parrot! The hospital internet has been down most all day and it keeps going in and out. Jeff is still in recovery and I’ll try to update everyone later. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers!

      • Sheila

        Julia, I hope that Jeff is resting, and you as well. Hospital time can be exhausting. I know it helps to have so many that care. Rest well….

        • Thank you Sheila! Jeff is sleeping as I write this, and they just brought in some linens so I can make that hard vinyl chair into a “bed!” But I’m not complaining, I’m so happy to be with him and happy the embolization went well. It does help tremendously to know so many people are sending kind thoughts and prayers for us! Thanks for being one of them!

  2. Ryan

    My mother-in-law keeps a parrot. Twain was a genius.

    • Is that quote not perfect? I just laughed aloud the first time I read it.

  3. Hehe…a pleasant shot, funny story and you look great! The right quote to go with. Thanks for sharing, Julia!

    • Thanks for being here, Bindu! I wrote a reply to you earlier today but the internet connection dropped out and I guess it didn’t go through. I’m glad you liked it. I couldn’t figure out what that bird was doing in my hair but when I saw the photo I said, “Uh-Oh!” and I checked my shirt and that button was GONE. I have never replaced it but still wear the shirt – it’s a funny memory!

  4. Scott

    Nice post. My family has often kept birds. After she had a family of her own, our oldest daughter, Evie, had a very loud parrot she called Gypsy. It had the run of the house. Evie’s daughter, Sarah, had been watching a horror movie…a monster under a kid’s bed. Sarah thought she heard something beneath her bed. Fearful of putting her feet on the floor, she hung her head over the edge and searched the shadows. That was when gypsy strolled down the hall. Pausing at Sarah’s door, she shouted “Hello.”

    • Hi Scott, I wrote a reply to you earlier today too, but it must have gotten lost in cyberspace. I love the name Gypsy for a parrot and it sounds like she was a real joker. I love hearing them talk, they can say anything and it sounds hilarious in my ears.

  5. I love Mark Twain! I always laugh when I think the way he described the game of golf: “A good walk, spoiled.” Or “Quitting smoking is easy. I know because I’ve done it thirty times!”
    (That last one was a bit of a paraphrase). I think it’s amazing that witticism from over a century ago can still make me chuckle. Thanks for the laugh 🙂

    • That’s a sure sign of genius, isn’t it? The things he wrote are “evergreen” and never lose their appeal, despite some very regrettable circumstances that he wisely refused to clean up or edit out of his work. (I had to defend “Huckleberry Finn” against censorship as part of my oral comprehensive exams in library school :-)). He definitely had a way with words and his sense of humor was second to none. I wonder if Dave Barry will still be popular in 150 years? (I hope so!) Thanks for being here.

  6. Michael Bertoglio

    What was his Twain politcal quote I came across recently?’ ‘In America we have no professional class of liers and thieves. With the exception of congress.”
    Seems rather cogent in light of recent actions.
    Going to NYC next month to visit youngest son. Never been there in the Spring so hope to visit some gardens. Do you have a favorite? I have been to Brooklyn Botanical once.

    • Yes Mike, if Twain was around today he could come up with some real zingers. Who knows, maybe someone would have him writing political speeches, although I’m not sure he would agree to that!

      I’m not that familiar with the gardens in NYC although I was surprised how many beautiful spots there are in Central Park. I have never been to the Brooklyn gardens but I’d like to go sometime. I also think it would be fun to go to the gardens on Staten Island – any excuse to ride the ferry, great views of Lady Liberty and the skylines, and the prices is definitely just right! You are lucky to have a son who lives in Manhattan, hotels are so expensive there. We like to stay at Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn (right under the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge) but I think you have to be military to stay there. I loved NYC even back in the 70’s but it has improved tremendously since then, I think. Have funn!

  7. MaryAnn Clontz

    What a beautiful woman you are! Such a fun shot! I always connect you w/ my mom because you & I met at a Ladies Devo she hosted. We became instantly joined by our Magi shoebox experiences. (Those were wonderfully happy, fun times: you & I organizing the ladies & gathering “goodies” to fill up the boxes for children around the world.) Okay, back to why I thought of Mom when I saw this macaw “eating” something on your shirt. When Mother lived in HI, we were at a luau. We made hats from reeds, then had our photo taken w/ beautiful, large birds. The photographer had a hard time getting a good shot because one of the birds was determined to eat Mom’s hat! So much joy & fun seeing the antics of the birds, I can hear Mother giggling!
    Thank you for the SMILE, today! Wishing the same for you! Love, MaryAnn

    • Thank you for the sweet reminder of “Sister Annie,” she was a very special person to us. I will have to dig up my photos from that fun Magi Project; it seems like Nanette and I drove about 80 or 90 boxes down to Manna headquarters that time. Those birds can be very determined when they see something they want. They warned us to beware of thieving monkeys, but I was not on guard about the birds. The monkeys were most interested in people’s glasses. Animals are so much fun!

    • Rene

      These stories remind me of visiting the Japanese Deer Park when I was a child—a deer (or more than one) ate the yarn ribbons right out of my sister’s hair.

      • WOW, that is so funny! I can’t picture a deer being that bold! Hope your sister wasn’t young enough to be frightened by it! Maybe those animals are as eager for souvenirs of us as we are for souvenirs of them!

  8. Thanks for the smile! 🙂

    • My pleasure! I’m so happy you liked it.

  9. I’ve never had a parrot, but I had a parakeet once. My roommate named him “Beek-o” after both the bird’s anatomy and the anti-apartheid leader. We could never teach him to speak and, I think, ultimately lost him in a bet (or traded him for a bottle of wine). Those were days I don’t remember well – probably for the best.

    • My grandmother had a parakeet named Tinker, but I don’t remember much about it. Her sister, my great-aunt, had a parakeet named Pretty Bird and I do remember having fun watching him. I haven’t known about anybody who had one for quite some time, though; were they a fad, or are people just into bigger birds now? They were cute and seemed to be easy to take care of. But I don’t remember them seeming as smart as my mother’s cockatiel.

  10. Nice photo of you Julia. I love birds but they are soooo messy I have never decided to get one. One of the things I miss at Disney is the Teekee room. We had so much fun making fun of that bird show and my kids never saw it. Hope you had a great day. Keeping you in prayer.

    • Thanks Amy! I can remember going to Disneyland in Anaheim back in the 60’s and thinking the Tiki Room should not have cost a D TICKET!!! It seemed more like a C to me, something mostly the grownups liked. But on the plane on the way over the flight attendant (who was called a “stewardess” back in those days) went on and on to me about how wonderful the Tiki Room was. That Tiki Room song got stuck in my head! On a more serious note, we need the prayers and really appreciate them, they are being answered! I’ll give you more details later, but the surgeons are pleased and feel the embolization will be successful.

  11. Well you are just the cutest patootie ever! You blend into the foliage so well, no wonder that parrot is making passes and tearing the buttons off your blouse…LOL. I heard this joke on Ellen this week:
    Two seniors are speeding down the freeway and when a cop pulls them over, he asks the old guy driving, “sir, do you know how fast you were going?”. The old guys wife, who’s hard of hearing yells at her husband, “WHAT DID HE SAY?” The old guy yells back to his wife, “HE WANTS TO KNOW HOW FAST WE’RE GOING”. The old guy gives the cop his license and the cop says, “oh yah, Minnesota……..I had the worst sex ever with some chick from there years ago”. Again, the old guys half deaf wife yells, “WHAT DID HE SAY?”. The old guy yells back at his wife, “HE THINK HE’S MET YOU BEFORE” 😀

    • Hee-hee, that reminds me of one of my father’s favorite hearing aid jokes that he told when he got his first set of hearing aids: First man: “I just got a new hearing aid. Set me back 5000 dollars!” Second man: “Wow, that’s a lot! What kind is it?” First man: “Two-thirty.” 🙂

  12. Indeed, I loved the post. The quote is awesome! I didn’t keep parrots but did the huge task of keeping ferns (all 8 of them) through 2 winters! In and out, in and out, sitting in a jungle, help and support from husband, too. Watching the temps daily. Constant vacuuming the frond mess. Then I see this spring, at the local grocery store, no less, gorgeous Boston Ferns for $10 each!! Mine are a bit scraggly but will be beautiful in a month or so. Relief from my husband when I told him no more ferns in winter. Alas, these are destined for the freeze next winter.
    Thanks for making me smile. Comic relief! 🙂

    • I’m glad you got a smile out of the post. I LOVE Boston ferns but was not able to keep one alive indoors – we went on vacation and that was the end of it. I do have quite a few on our wooded lot that come back beautifully each year, so I just enjoy them in nature. As far as I know they are all wild. I imagine having 8 of them indoors was quite a jungle indeed. They are quite reasonably priced and some of the ones I’ve seen for sale are ENORMOUS so I may end up getting one and then maybe trying to transplant it outdoors and see what happens.

      • Mine are coming along, though some of the fronds are brownish. It’s tempting to dump them in the woods and purchase new but husband reminded me of the labor and space to preserve them through winter. Guess since he had a hand in it he doesn’t want to see his labor of love wasted. We shall see!

        • Good luck! Let me know how they do. I think a lot of things are struggling this year after the tough winter. We have several outdoor plants that we still don’t know whether they will come back again.


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