Monday, July 27, 2009

Sigh of Relief

One of the reasons I came back to Canada was to get my work visa renewed for the US. I guess 'renewed' isn't the right word though, since the visa expired in February and I handed it in, thinking I wouldn't need another one until I was required to travel back to the US for work. That's what an immigration office at one of the US airports advised me and I mostly believed him.

So this morning I gathered all my necessary papers together and headed to the US border to meet with US immigration. I sat for an hour and watched numerous foreign tourists from Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Britain, and other countries come and go, all with US approval to visit. I am used to being left there for a long time as there is usually just one free-trade officer working, and I have to wait for that person to be free.

Finally I was called. The usual free-trade officer was not there (he was in a meeting, I found out later). I was interviewed by a younger officer, who was not too pleased with me at first. "Why didn't you renew?", he demanded. I told him my story, but he wasn't too happy with it and took it to a colleague where they discussed me under their breath. I sat nervously waiting for the outcome of their conversation, and they called me back and both talked to me again.

There really is no other choice than to tell the full truth, which I have always done in these situations. If I made a mistake by not renewing it was not intentional, and the reason I went to the border this morning was to make sure I was doing the right thing.

Finally it all got sorted out and they approved me, with a strong recommendation that whether I'm actually physically in the US or not, I need to have the paperwork to be approved. Now I understand and won't get myself into that situation again.

Although I dread immigration interviews, whether US, Canadian, or Mexican, I just speak honestly and answer their questions. I'm almost always treated to a friendly officer who isn't out to make my life miserable, although the last female officer greeting me in the Cancun airport was rather unfriendly. But she was the exception. My situation isn't the easiest for officers to understand, but answering their questions finally satisfies them that I'm just a normal person with a bit of an unusual life, and totally harmless.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What happened to summer?

I'm here in the banana belt of Canada, the Niagara region. Home of fruit orchards, grape vineyards, birthplace of James Cameron ( director of 'Titanic'), our magnificent Niagara Falls, and of course, the Capri Restaurant.

What's that? You've never heard of the Capri Restaurant? If you like lasagna, ravioli, gnocci, fettuccini...all in a homemade red sauce, you must visit the Capri Restaurant when you come to Niagara Falls. Thick, crusty Italian bread, garden salad topped with house dressing, and a plate of steaming pasta is a meal I never miss when I come back to Canada. They also have steaks, chicken parmigiana, seafood, and other delicious menu options, but for me it's all about the pasta. We're going there tonight.

I arrived back late Thursday night, to a pleasant evening. My taxi driver told me how cool and rainy it's been here, but to me it felt refreshing. I've been sweating in the heat and humidity on Isla and the cooler air feels great. Yesterday seemed very nice to me too, although it was mostly overcast. And today looks the same, but the doors and windows are open and it's very comfortable.

The flowers and gardens here look lovely and lush; very different than our flowers back in Mexico. I enjoy the view as I drive around running errands.

The locals claim they have not had summer this year - it has rained almost every day and the temperature has not gotten up to normal summer temperatures at all. I know if I was living here every day and putting up with this weather I'd be ticked off too, but instead I am enjoying not wiping sweat from my brow every time I move. But for people who endured a long harsh winter, the current weather is a disappointment. And they know there isn't much time left for summer to show up.

So even though I'm leaving in a few days, I'll wish the weather improves and summer makes an appearance. If all else fails, people will just have to come down to Isla to get their summer fix - we definitely have it going on right now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just a little dose of medicine

When I was a brand new nurse I was assigned to the paediatric unit at the local hospital. I didn't know a lot about kids from personal experience, and I didn't know much about them from my nursing training either. But I had good mentors and I learned a lot about children, some of which would help me raise my own child without making all the mistakes I might have made otherwise.

One trick I learned was how to give oral medication to unwilling recipients. Babies and toddlers would fight tooth and nail to get out of taking their liquid medication. I can't blame them, I have never been able to drink medication myself - I gag on every sip and it is torture. Yucky!

But my mentors taught me their techniques to confine the kids in a grip that gave them no choice but to submit to the medication being dumped in their mouth. It went something like this:

Put a chair near the bedside table, and put the cup of medicine on the top of the table. Pick up the kid and sit in the chair with your left arm supporting the child. Place the child's right arm behind your left arm so they can't do much with it other than pinch you (if they happen to think of that). With the child's legs across your lap, put your right leg over the child's legs which stops them from kicking and gives them no leverage to get away. With your left hand hold onto the child's left arm so they can't swing at your face.

With your right hand (the only thing either of you has free by this time), pick up the medicine cup and place it on the lips of the child. If you are lucky they will start to cry or scream which causes them to open their mouth and that is when you quickly dump the medicine into their mouth. Some kids will gargle the medicine as they continue crying, some kids will quickly spit it back at you, and other kids will know they're beat and will swallow it. The odd kid will gag so hard that the medication as well as their last meal will end up all over you, the child, and the floor.

Animals aren't a whole lot different than kids when it comes to avoiding medication, and this week we are getting plenty of practice.

Minina has Bell's Palsy and needs eye ointment put into the open eye three times a day. Minina starts fighting as soon as she sees me coming at her with a finger loaded with ointment. I know it is poor technique but it's the only way to get the ointment even close to her eye - I wipe my finger on her bottom lid and then manually open and close the eyelid a few times (until she breaks free of my grip and runs off).

The injections Minina has been getting are hard on all of us - Delfino and us because we know it is very painful and we hate doing that to her. And it's hard on Minina because despite being wrapped in a towel, including her head, she scratches and struggles and bites and screams during the entire process and finally gets parts of her body free and becomes a dangerous animal. We hold on with all our strength because we know we won't get another chance, and at the time of injection Minina screams so loud you would think we were chopping off her tail or something. Once the shot is done we release our grip on the towel and she flies off the table and runs far away from all of us. She pouts for several hours before she returns to her normal sweet self. Thankfully she had her final shot tonight (we hope). There is some improvement in how she looks but her face is still paralyzed so we have to give her massage and now physio to get her to use the muscles.

Smokey came through her surgery on Monday but took 28 hrs to come out of her anesthetic. Smokey couldn't control her muscles, her head just flopped around when she managed to lift it for a second, and she basically slept for almost 24 hrs after she came home Monday night. She would not drink or eat yesterday morning and I knew she needed to get something into her system so I syringed water and milk into her mouth, and put small amounts of canned cat food into her mouth too. I also started her antibiotics. She was too weak to fight me but by last night she was starting to recover and half of her antibiotics ended up on the towel instead of in her mouth. And today it's worse, a battle over 1 lousy ml of medicine, with half of it ending up anywhere but in Smokey's mouth. I usually wipe the excess on her paws, hoping she'll lick it off. At least she's well on the mend now, so we are relieved.

Loco gets monthly heartworm pills. Pills they claim are like dog treats - dogs just love them. Uh huh. Not Loco. We coat the pill with canned food and pop it into the back of his throat and then hold his mouth shut. Loco works his tongue inside his mouth and when we decide he must have swallowed the pill, we let which Loco does "phptt" and spits the pill (minus the canned food) on the floor. We repeat this process until we have canned dog food all over the floor, on our legs, under our fingernails, and on our clothes. By this time I am saying some unkind things to Loco but he doesn't care. He doesn't care that we are trying to keep his heart healthy.

Tonight is the night for Loco's pill. And Smokey still needs her antibiotics. We're both tired. I haven't packed, I haven't done anything to prepare for my trip tomorrow. I decided to write this story to put off the unpleasant task of giving medication. But now it's time to get on with it. Wish us luck!

Monday, July 20, 2009

I thought I'd given up nursing

But apparently, once a nurse always a nurse.

I was looking forward to the weekend. Saturday to clean and organize, and Sunday to take it easy - maybe go to the beach.

I pretty much got through Saturday, although the heat and humidity stopped me from completing all the tasks I had lined up for myself. By evening I was ready to wash the floors, which meant pitching all the animals out on the back terrace so they wouldn't walk all over the wet floors. For some reason, an animal that has been sleeping on the pet sofa for hours will suddenly wake up when I'm washing the floors and decide that it needs to stroll through the house, into the kitchen, and check its food dish...leaving paw imprints on the nice clean floor.

There was a whole ordeal with Loco over being put outside, but it all boils down to what I've already posted - he is scared of the dark. Let's just say by the time I finished mopping the floors and dealing with Loco that I was a) very sweaty, and b) quite ticked off.

About that time the mechanic showed up to give me the bad news that the golf cart needs a new generator - AGAIN! Serves me right for putting in a used one the last time - I played the odds and lost. And so we are once again without a golf cart for who knows how long this time?

Sunday morning I woke up to find Miguel sick with a fever and stomach disorder. I took his temperature and plied him with cold liquids and Motrin. And then I took a good look at Minina, as something about her face didn't seem quite right. Oh my gosh - her left eye was bulging and occasionally it rolled up and away. Geez - I knew this was a medical emergency, but since it was Sunday I could not reach the vet.

Minina could not close her eye so I found a tube of cat eye ointment from a previous eye infection that someone had and decided to use that to lubricate the eye. Minina does not like any sort of medication, and she fought me so hard with the ointment that I ended up shooting most of it all over her face and none in the eye itself. I scooped some off her face and put it on my finger and then into her eye. I tried to massage the lid closed as she was unable do so.

Then I walked to the store and bought some aspirin, cold drinks, and a popsicle for Miguel and told him to get busy drinking to flush out his system. Miguel always bundles himself up when he has a fever, so I ordered him to remove his clothes and stay uncovered. And a little while later, when his temperature went even higher (up to 102 F (39 C)), I told him to get into the swimming pool as the cooler water would be like a sponge bath and would help bring down the fever. He complained that he didn't have any energy, but Nurse Sue was in no mood and he gave in (and almost immediately felt better). After that he laid in bed under the fan and then took a long nap. I spent the afternoon going from pool to hammock and back again, with only one annoyance being Luna, who was whining because she wanted to get up in the hammock with me. I allowed Luna to join me until we both got too hot, and then she settled on the cool tiles under the sink and left me in peace.

All the tactics worked for Miguel - by evening the only lingering issue, other than a slightly elevated temperature, was the stomach problem. I took a taxi into town to pick up some pepto-bismal and more aspirin. Today Miguel is feeling much better.

Smokey was scheduled for spay surgery today, so by 10 pm last night I had to round up all the food dishes and bags and empty the water dish so Smokey's stomach would be empty. Of course that meant that everyone else had empty stomachs too, and this morning they were all sitting by the empty food dishes looking at me as if to say "hey, what gives here?".

I called Delfino at 8:30 am this morning to tell him about Minina, and at 9:30 he arrived at the house. "It's very serious", he said. Yes, I know - the left side of her face seems paralyzed. She cannot close her eye, and her ear doesn't seem to move. Bell's Palsy? Didn't know cats could get it but Delfino is in agreement that this seems to be what Minina has, and the eye ointment was the right thing to do. Delfino will return later today with some medication for Minina - antibiotics, steroids, and vitamins - an injection he has already warned me will hurt. Poor Minina - she has had a tough few weeks.

Miguel had Bell's Palsy last year so he knows what Minina is going through - and stress seems to be part of the cause. I hope she will recover as Miguel did but there are no guarantees. I swear - I have never had so many animals with such problems before in my life. A neurotic dog afraid of the dark, and now a stressed-out cat with facial paralysis.

And Smokey? Well, she went with Delfino this morning and I am hoping she will be just fine with her surgery. But past experience tells me I'll have a few stressful days trying to keep Smokey from pulling out the stitches and from running and jumping. I am supposed to go to Canada on Thursday and it would be a lot easier to go if everyone would just get better!

On a lighter note, while googling 'bell's palsy feline', I came across this 'diet' regime and thought it was worth sharing. Anyone living with a cat will relate:


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Where have we been hanging out?

Our lives are busy. Not much time to enjoy our beautiful island and home. Here's where Miguel's been spending a lot of his time:

Yes, Miguel is hoping to have a second unit at Capi's Apartment by the end of the year. Money is tight but we are scraping up a bit here and there to give some out-of-work workers some much-needed cash. Poco a poco, is how we have to take it this time. Miguel is working right along-side his laborers. For him it means long hours, hot sun, missed meals, early bedtimes. But he's happy, so that's what counts.

Loco has managed to get out and about a bit. Here Miguel was giving him a ride up and down our street because the golf cart was out of service for a few days and Loco was missing his tours:

Although he rides the moped quite well, the family mode of transportation, the untrusty golf cart, is his preferred method.

Last night Miguel arrived home after work just in time to hop on his moped and go buy his lottery tickets. While there he ordered some burgers from our favorite cart across the street from the lottery, and came back to get us so we could all go back on the golf cart to pick up the burgers and give Loco his tour.

The cats don't do much, they are masters at just hanging out. Here's Luna before I banned her from the inside this week:

"Someone" has been showing disapproval, and I think it's Luna and I think it's because she is not happy that Smokey is around. Just guessing, but until she gets her snit under control, she is living outside (where she is perfectly happy anyway and she can do her job killing rodents).

I've been inside working, as usual, but it's been so hot and humid that I've been closing the doors and windows and putting on the a/c. We are all cold now, but at least more comfortable, and even these two decided to snuggle (which they never normally do):

Maya and Minina

Maya has turned into a solid, heavy, big cat. She doesn't do much; in fact, to play with the flying cat toy, she just lies on the floor and swipes at it. Minina and Smokey jump and run and do flips to catch the toy, but that's just too much for Maya. She just lays there waiting for it to come her way and half-heartedly bats at it. Her reflexes are nothing like the other two cats, sometimes I wonder if she is 100% cat!


What can I say about Smokey? She is all kitten and we love watching her. She loves to toss and carry her furry mice around, and there is a soft ball she carries around too. The biggest toy she carries is a squirrel that belongs to Loco. Smokey can get that toy up on the bed, and she loves to attack it and kick her back feet at it - sometimes she even makes it squeak. Sometimes we will go into the spare bedroom and find Smokey sprawled out, surrounded by her four toys. Smokey plays hard, and sleeps a lot to recover.

Me...on Sunday I decided that I have not been paying enough attention to the need to take one day (or even part of it) and relax. So I went to Playa Norte, where I haven't been in a long, long time (near Buhos). I sprawled in the sand in the shade of the palm trees and read, dozed, and dipped in the sea for a couple of hours. And then I came home, dipped in the pool, and then dozed and read in the blue hammock.

The water, whether it be pool or sea, is so warm at this time of year - it's my favorite time. Hopefully I will be able to repeat the above next Sunday!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Scared of the dark

For the last several months, Loco has refused to go off our property once darkness descends, unless we are right there beside him. We have to accompany him down the road while he does his thing, which is not a bad thing since it's the law here anyway. It's the change in Loco that has us stumped - he's simply scared of the dark and doesn't want to spend another second out there that isn't necessary.

What spooked him? We can only guess...

Once a cat was sitting in the bushes that Loco chose to squat beside, and he got a sharp claw poked into his butt - made him squeal. Maybe Loco is scared there are more cats sitting in the bushes waiting to get him?

Some people walk down the road armed with rocks or sticks to scare away dogs. A few weeks ago Loco was headed down the road with me behind him, and then he spotted a man ahead of us, walking away from us. As soon as Loco spotted the man he tucked his tail between his legs and tore off back home. Maybe Loco got a little too close to that man or someone else and received a knock on the head from a rock or stick and now he's scared of strangers?

Almost every night there is a boat tour from Cancun that visits Playa Tiberon. We can hear the music from the time they arrive to the time they leave, and some nights they shoot off fireworks over the water. Loco is terrified of the boom, so does he associate the music with the boom and therefore assume that if there is music, a boom can't be far behind so he'd better stay home where he's safe?

Loco used to sleep under our bed upstairs, but since we got a door at the bottom of the staircase we've been leaving the cats and Loco downstairs alone for those nights when we sleep upstairs. Loco sleeps under the bed in the downstairs guest room every night, which is where we also sleep when we have guests. Twice now, when we've been sleeping upstairs, Loco has managed to force open the accordion door in the staircase and sheepishly tip-toe into our bedroom and slide under the bed. The first time he heard thunder, so we understood. But last night? There was nothing we could hear that led us to believe Loco came up out of fear of a boom. We are forced to conclude that our dog is simply scared of the dark.

It's rather ironic that the dog, who is supposed to protect us from all evil, needs to sleep under the bed we are sleeping in because he's scared. Somehow he feels safe under the bed and in the same room as 'mama' and 'papa'. Who is protecting whom here?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Yes Joe, I AM Canadian too...

...but I, a Canadian, am very annoyed at my homeland. And I'm ashamed that we are now discriminating against the citizens of a member country of our continent.

Today Canada implemented a new regulation and now requires Mexican citizens to have a visa prior to any travel to Canada. The 'reason' (excuse)?

“The visa requirement I am announcing will give us a greater ability to manage the flow of people into Canada and verify bona fides. By taking this important step towards reducing the burden on our refugee system, we will be better equipped to process genuine refugee claims faster.”

It took longer than an hour for me, an English-speaking native, to wade through all the bureaucracy on the website, download all the necessary downloads, print all the various instructions, and figure out where Miguel fits into the requirements. I'm still not sure I have it right.

Some of the requirements will be very difficult to meet, as many Mexicans do not have bank accounts, they don't pay income taxes, and they don't own property or cars. I can only imagine that this will drastically reduce the number of Mexican tourists visiting Canada, because along with the visa process, there is a non-refundable $150 fee attached ("to recover our costs").

For the last 3 years Miguel has travelled to Canada once a year. He has a passport, we bought the airline ticket, and that was that. Simple.

Now he has to provide every single detail of his personal life to some paper-stamper in Mexico City, pay $150, and wait for approval or rejection. Yes, he has a business and pays Hacienda, but that is only recent - Canada wants to see 3 years of records. They simply don't exist.

NAFTA is obviously not doing anything like the European Union, which supports the freedom of movement of people. Nope, North American countries are making it harder and harder to visit and just be a normal tourist. All in the name of "verifying bona fides".

Sorry, I don't buy it.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Learning Web Design

There were a couple of driving forces that pushed me into learning web technologies:

1. My job is not going to last forever. After being asked (or rather told) to relocate to corporate headquarters last year and declining, they hired my replacement. I am still working, doing some of the technical things that are specialized to my area of expertise, but my days are numbered with that company. Most positions that would be suitable for my current skills require 80-100% travel - been there, done that (11 years of it), and lost a lot of my personal life in the process. So I am going to do my best to avoid taking on another job that involves extensive travel. And since I am not in a position to retire (damn, WHEN will Miguel win the BIG lottery instead of these little jackpots?!), I need to learn new skills in order to continue working from home.

2. After Miguel's accident (near-electrocution and third-degree burns), he turned his focus to finishing his apartment in order to rent it. And since Miguel also started cooking more, we decided to turn our spare room upstairs into a B&B as well. Which meant a web-site in order to promote the sites.

Computer programming and anything that makes me think logically has always interested me. I have written computer programs before, and currently use my logic skills in trouble-shooting and creating data queries and custom reports. This is my true passion, and web-programming is a natural progression for me.

So I signed up with an online educational site, where I am taking various courses leading to certification. I just need one more course in order to be certified in web technologies. I have started the certification program for web programming, and concurrently I will tackle web design certification.

After my first course of html, I created this very basic site:

A little css added to html and I was able to make it a little prettier:

And now I am coding in html 4.01 strict and lots of css for presentation. I redesigned all our pages and added several more new ones. Here's how the homepage for our site looks today:

It's interesting to look back and see how far I've come in just a few months. I need a lot more practice and education but this feels good and I enjoy it. I am working on the computer almost every evening (after working on it all day for work), but I am seeing progress so it is worth it. I hope this will lead to something new. Fingers crossed!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I know I complained about the wind

Yes, it was very windy over the late fall and winter season here, and we grew tired of it and complained about it. However, according to Jeff Masters' WunderBlog, "Stronger-than-average trade winds were observed through most of the period November 2008 - May 2009, which helped cool the tropical Atlantic substantially. Strong winds mix up colder water from the depths and cause greater evaporative cooling."

Sea surface temperatures are just one variable in supporting hurricane formation, but if the strong winds keep us safe from hurricanes, I'll gladly put up with the wind (like I have a choice anyway).

If you like scenic photos, I suggest you drop over to Jeff Masters' site and check out photos like this one, taken on the island of Corfu in Greece.

The island of Corfu has been a place I've wanted to visit since I got hooked on books written by Gerald Durrell. Gerald wrote books about his carefree childhood days collecting 'specimens' to satisfy his curiousity about animals and nature. For an animal lover such as I, Gerald's writing captured my imagination and I became a collector of his books.

Here is a site describing Gerald's sentiments about how humans have ravaged the earth and its inhabitants: "I feel despair twenty-four hours a day at the way we are treating the world and what we are piling up for ourselves. But you have to keep fighting, or what are we on earth for? I believe so much in what I am doing that I cannot let up."

- Gerald Durrell (1985 Aged 60)

To do his part in conservation, Gerald founded the Jersey Zoo, focusing on creatures under threat of extinction. Although Gerald is no longer alive, his passion lives on through his zoo. And his childhood lives on through his books.

Islands have always held a fascination for me - I think I like the feeling of being separated from the mainstream, surrounded by the sea, which has always pulled at me. I'm sure Gerald's island is no longer as he described it when he lived there as a child, just as Isla Mujeres is no longer the same island as it was 9 short years ago when I first came here.

Here is a sobering video that continues Gerald's theme of the havoc we humans are inflicting on the world (and our islands). Maybe hurricanes are one way nature has of getting back at us.

Friday, July 3, 2009

I think I've mentioned this before

I HATE concrete dust! And I hate it even worse when it's in the kitchen. But that's what we're dealing with right now, as we try to install a/c in the kitchen so we can cook in comfort.

Actually, it's not just for cooking that we need a/c in there. It's because the bottom level is 1000 sq feet and there is one mini-split in the living room and one in the bedroom, and then nothing for the dining room, kitchen, passageway, bathroom and laundry room. The lower level is open concept - the bathroom is in the center of the house, with all the other rooms circled around it. No doors to keep just the living room cool, and so the a/c in there works continuously trying to keep the temperature at 26 degrees C while a lot of the cool air migrates through to the other non-a/c rooms.

We are hoping the large a/c installed in the kitchen will provide a balance and enable efficient cooling and comfort. Now that we have a door (sort of) across the kitchen entrance to the staircase upstairs, we should be able to run the a/c and not run up a huge electric bill. Well, that part is relative, of course, because electricity is so expensive here. We will only be running the a/c in any part of the house when the humidity is unbearable, as it has been the last couple of day.

Speaking of unbearable's so humid that:

1. The dish of salt we use for cooking is now a puddle.
2. I am constantly sweating, even just sitting and doing nothing.
3. The clothes take longer to dry on the line.
4. The battery on my laptop fizzled out and died (and it's only 8 months old).
5. One salt shaker we had here ended up with a rusty top and I had to throw it out.

The salt shakers at the restaurants, that have rice inside to absorb the humidty, don't even work. The holes are plugged with lumps of wet salt. We shake and shake, but nothing comes out. We wipe the top, pound the shaker on the table, and try again - still nothing. Between abusing the salt shaker and the ketchup bottle by pounding, shaking, and smacking them, we don't make such a great impression.

We have a salt shaker here at home that has rice inside, but the holes are a little too big and so raw rice comes out along with the salt. Not a great thing to dig into food that should not have hard lumps, and find hard lumps.

So next shopping trip I will be on a search for a decent salt shaker that will meet all my criteria.

I am miserable and uncomfortable because I'm too hot and soaking wet with sweat. However, I can't wait until they finish making a mess in the kitchen so I can pull everything out from under the counters and give it a good scrub - something it needed anyway. I'm sure the a/c in the kitchen won't be working when I get down to it, but I'll put on the living room and bedroom a/c and that will be better than nothing.

So that's my plan for this long weekend. I'm just thrilled it IS a long weekend - lately I just live for weekends, and when they end up being holiday weekends, that's even better. Hoping you all have a wonderful long weekend too!

Thursday, July 2, 2009


We have a bird outside that has been singing up a storm all day and all night for the last several weeks.

Miguel said that it was a crazy bird, singing at 3 am when everyone else was sleeping. Miguel's culture believes that the bird is bringing a message - a warning that something is going to happen. "Be careful!", is the general idea. He tried to explain something to me about the bird and the Virgin Mary, but I couldn't follow his train of thought, and an internet search yielded nothing.

I'm not much of a bird expert - I recognize by sight birds like the robin, blue jay, cardinal, sparrow, black bird, crow, pigeon, dove, seagull, eagle, hawk, etc. Here in Mexico I've also recognized finches, canaries, parrots, and hummingbirds. I am familiar with the songs and calls of many of the birds, but the bird singing outside on the wire was one I was not familiar with.

However, I have heard of nightingales, and just because of the word 'night' in the name and the fact that the bird sings at night, I decided to google the bird.

I found a great photo of the bird on one site, and another site listing some samples of the bird's songs.

I learned the following from Wikipedia:

"Its song is particularly noticeable at night because few other birds are singing. This is why its name (in several languages) includes "night". Only unpaired males sing regularly at night, and nocturnal song is likely to serve attracting a mate. Singing at dawn, during the hour before sunrise, is assumed to be important in defending the bird's territory. Nightingales sing even more loudly in urban or near-urban environments, in order to overcome the background noise."

I feel sorry for the bird, because he's been singing all night long for weeks and has yet to come up with a mate. So far Miguel is the only one answering his calls - he mimics the bird's calls and the bird seems to call back to him. Actually, now that I think about it, maybe the bird thinks Miguel wants to be his mate?