Perhaps my favorite story about Grandma Martha's tidiness happened shortly after Duane and I returned from his military stint in San Antonio. When we moved, we left our parakeet, Linus with her until our two year tour was up. She adored Linus. He was a special bird. He could talk. His vocabulary included: "here kitty, kitty, kitty; Duane is a fink, hello, come here, bye now." But what grandma liked best about him was his personal hygiene routine. He took a bath every morning in his green plastic bathtub with a mirror in the bottom. Then he would check out his reflection in the toaster, bobbing his head, and muttering to himself in parakeet, not English. When we came home from Texas and reclaimed Linus, she went directly to the pet store and bought a bird that looked just like Linus. This one was, in grandma's words, "a dud." He didn't talk, but worse, he refused to bathe. No shape or color of tub or bowl, or temperature of water would tempt him. She named him Billy.
One day when I came for a visit, I stepped up to the cage to say hi to Billy. He went berserk. I asked grandma what was wrong. She said, "He's been like that ever since his bath."
"But I thought you said he didn't like to take a bath," I said.
"He doesn't, she answered, "so I gave him one."
"How in the world did you do that?" I asked, wondering how one would go about force-bathing a bird.
"I just put a little shampoo and water in the bottom of a fruit jar, put him in, put on the lid, and shook him up a little."