I have a morning routine that I like to follow religiously. I get up, I yawn, I go to the washroom, I get my cup of personality (some people refer to this as coffee, I like to think of it as a life-saving elixir) and I sit outside on my deck to breathe in the fresh air and centre myself for the chaos that will inevitably follow with two preteens in the house.

There are mornings I can't do this. Three mornings a week. Three whole mornings when my routine is shattered because my daughter decided to join the school volleyball team which is coached by the anti-christ. (Albeit, a fairly young muscular, if-you-squint-he's-kinda-hawt type of demon.)

This anti-christ insists on scheduling morning practices at 7 freaking a.m. Which means I have to drag my arse out of my bed at an ungodly hour, before even the sun rises to squire my bundle of love as she bounces around in the back seat and chatters as only a fresh faced youngster can and bite my tongue until it bleeds to ensure I don't rip her face off from my crankiness. All before I can have the first sips of my morning elixir.

To say I dread these mornings would be a wee understatement. I'd rather have my pretty private parts chewed off by a rabid wild animal than get behind the wheel of my car before I'm fully awake and centered. Damn. If only I had thought about this reality before deciding to live my life out in the boondocks of Alberta. It would be much easier if I we lived in town and I could just yell at her to wake her sorry butt up and walk herself to practice.

I never was one for forethought and planning.

Earlier this week was one such joyous morning. I was cranky because I forgot to set the coffee maker the night before and didn't have time to brew a fresh pot before having to drive Fric to practice. I was tired, cranky and not fully awake. How safe is that? A grouchy, sleepy redneck behind the wheel of a speeding vehicle. Good times.

After dropping her off I went home and headed straight to the coffee pot. As I waited for my magical elixir to brew and inhaled the sweet intoxicating aroma of coffee, I walked over to the pantry to give Nixon, The World's Greatest Dog, EVER, a morning treat. While in the pantry I spied the bag of bird seed and reminded myself to fill my bird's seed dish.

This is normally a chore I pass to my children; not because I am lazy, but because I am scared of my lovebirds, Abe and Lester. They are angry little fackers who take great delight in biting off hunks of skin as you try and wrangle their food and water dishes out of their cage. They hop around the bottom of their cage and cackle at you maniacally while they peck at your fingers looking to draw blood.

Yet, despite this annoying blood-thirsty habit they have developed, I love my birds. They soothe my soul with their birdy tweets and sweet preening. I can overlook their vampire tendencies because they are so darned pretty.

Reaching into their cage, I braced myself for the onslaught of carnivorous bird beaks on my bare hand. Except there was none. Weird. That's when I opened my eyes fully and realized something was wrong. Horribly wrong.

My beloved Abe and Lester were dead, on the bottom of their cage, snuggled so it looked like they were eating out of an overturned food dish.

I immediately started to hyperventilate. Dear lawd, I hadn't even had my coffee yet and here I was in the middle of a morning tragedy. I didn't know what to do, so I backed away from the cage, shaking, and headed for my coffee pot.

Caffeine cures all ails, including the shocking surprise of discovering your beloved pets dead in their cage first thing in the morning.

I don't know why they died. Trying to fight back the tears, I did the only thing I could think of. I called my darling husband.


"Where are you?" I half-croaked, half-whispered.

"What's the matter?" he immediately asked, knowing by the tone of my voice something was very wrong.

"Abe and Lester are DEAD!" I gasped as the shock finally broke and the waterworks began.

"Oh honey, I'm so sorry. I know you loved those birds."

I sniffed, somewhat mollified to have my grief acknowledged. "When are you coming home?"

"I'm on my way home now, actually, love. I should be home shortly."

"Good," I replied. "You can dispose of their bodies."

"No f*cking way, love. They're your birds."

I blinked, not expecting this answer from a man who has been known to dispose of deceased pets for neighbours and friends. "What do you mean? You always take care of the dead things around here."

"I love you Tanis, but I'm not touching dead birds. They could be diseased." And with that, the image of my manly husband morphed into a sissy little pansy, scared of a couple of tiny rotting birds.

"I can't do it!!!" I wailed. "Don't make me do this, Boo. You are supposed to wear the pants in our marriage." (Nothing like playing on his testosterone to force him to do something. Heh.)

"Just toss them in a garbage bag and put them outside," he reasoned.

"No. I am just going to cover the cage with a sheet until you get home," I declared. "And if you don't take care of my birds I'm not above blogging about what a weeny my husband is. There are other daddy bloggers out there who would totally do this for me. Daddy bloggers who love me. Don't make me trade you in for one of them."

Silence. "Wow, you are just EVIL this morning."

"I'm in mourning. And the caffeine hasn't kicked in yet," I explained.

With that he sighed and I knew my tactics had worked. Heh. Sometimes it pays to know someone so well you can play them like a fiddle. (Just kidding Boo!)

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Goodbye sweet Abe and Lester. How I loved you.

A bit later, Boo walked into the house and wandered over to see the remains of my sweet Abe and Lester.

"Hmm. I wonder what happened. They were fine last night," he murmured.

"I knowwwww," I half cried, half hiccuped.

"Weird." Taking his finger, he poked at them to see if they were playing opossum. They weren't. "Yep, they're dead."

Thanks Sherlock. I hadn't figured that one out for myself.

"I wonder what they would taste like?" he grinned and started laughing when I gasped horrifically and smacked his arm.

"That's disgusting! And so mean! Don't worry Abe and Lester, I'd never eat you," I assured my birdie corpses.

I stood by silently, as Boo took the cage outside and lovingly stuffed the birds into a bag to go bury out by a pear tree I had planted earlier this spring. I watched him dig a hole and place them in it and when he started tossing dirt on my precious birdie babies, I had to look away.

Poor Abe and Lester. I'm sorry you died, my sweets. But I'm glad you flew to heaven together. And I'm kinda relieved you won't take small chunks of my skin out anymore with your vicious curved beaks, I thought to myself.

Boo came back in and washed his hands and hugged me. "I'm really sorry love," he murmured as he kissed the top of my head. I nodded and buried myself deep into his embrace, trying to block out the image of my gruesome discovery from earlier that morning.

"I know what will cheer you up," he offered. "I'll take you out for supper tonight and we can celebrate Abe and Lester and the joy they brought to our house as they shit and chirped and scattered bird seed all over my floor." (A little passive aggressive I thought, but hey, he was offering to wine and dine me, so why not?"

"What are you in the mood for?" I asked, half hoping he would name my favorite Vietnamese restaurant.

Boo looked at me and grinned a wicked grin and said, "Well suddenly, I'm in the mood for chicken wings."

And that bugger my loving husband did have chicken wings later that night. Every time he took a bite he'd grin and say, "Oh Lester, you taste so good. Abe, I didn't know you were so tasty."

Let's just say the man did not get laid.

And I'm currently in the hunt for a replacement model. Not just for the birds. But for my birdbrained boy as well.