Feed the birds…

I went over to Seseragi Park, between my house and the station, and gave the rest of Monta’s already opened birdseeds, dried fruits, and vitamin tablets to the pigeons there.

The fountains have been turned off in the park, and pigeons gather there these days

They started flying in and flocking around the treats…

Here’s a closeup of them enjoying the sudden buffet.

And a farewell to the flock of pigeons as I leave them to enjoy their meal and head back home. You can hear some of them coo-ing…

I still have unopened packages of birdseed and other bird treats at home. I’ll try to find a place to donate them to.

Monta 2010 – 2020

Monta, who came to live with us in 2012 when he was two years old, passed away quietly this morning at almost 10 years of age. Of the three Java Sparrows I have had, he by far lived to be the oldest, exceeding average life expectancy.

He originally came, from a Java Sparrow adoption site, to be a companion for Mon-chan (see the day he arrived: https://lerner.net/meet-monta-kun/). While they never really became a couple, and Mon-chan passed away about three years ago, they at least kept each other company, and flew around and seemed to have fun squabbling.

All three Java Sparrows I owned had very different personalities. Hao was probably the most intelligent and inquisitive. He would come if you called him by name, and enjoyed exploring my desk. Mon was probably the gentlest, but she too would come if you called her. She was also fairly inquisitive. Monta basically never strayed from his cage unless you took him out, but he was the most easy to handle. He never seemed interested in roaming about my desk though. But he liked playing on me, going in my shirt, and hanging out. Both Hao and Mon would sit on my fingers, but only Monta liked being petted and cuddling in the palm of my hand. And he had a beautiful, vibrant Java Sparrow bird song.

The last year Monta had been going downhill. He hasn’t been able to fly for a long time, so I moved his favorite place in the world – his swing – next to his food and water. He also had cataracts and couldn’t see out of his right eye. But up until yesterday he still had an appetite. Yesterday he did seem to noticeably sleep a lot more though.

This morning I found him huddled by his food container, and he didn’t seem to be able to sit on his swing or the perch by the food. I took him over for his morning shower at the kitchen sink (he hasn’t been able to take baths by himself for a while), and while he usually chirps and sometimes even sings a little during his shower, this morning he showed no reaction at all.

Monta this morning just after his shower

I tried coaxing him to react, which can see in this video:

Monta relaxing in my hand

I tried rubbing him and talking to him to get a reaction. At one point at least he seemed to hear me and react a bit:

It was obvious that he was drifting away, so I sang him a lullaby. He didn’t seem to be in pain or distress. Just drifting away…

Monta sleeping on my shirt near the end
The last photo of Monta while he was alive…

We prepared Monta to take him over to the Ekouin, where both Hao and Mon were cremated. It’s worth reading about the history of the temple, which dates back to 1657. The neighborhood is only 5 stops from my station.

Monta being prepared to take over to the Ekouin, with some seeds and dried fruit he likes

Two photo’s showing Monta’s box in the chilled preparation room before cremation, along with some other pets who were brought over today.

The writing shows the owners’ names, the type of pet (a beloved bird), and Monta’s name
Monta seemed to be the smallest pet brought over today

Afterwards we visited the inner temple and offered some incense for Monta. I will pick up his urn on Thursday and put it beside the urns for Hao and Mon.

On the way home from my station, there was a flock of still pigeons just standing there in the park as I walked way. They didn’t scatter or fly away. They just stood there. It was a very eery feeling. Like they were a bird honor guard for Monta.

At home, every time I pass Monta’s cage I can’t help but glance in it to make sure Monta is doing ok. A very lonely feeling. I think Monta will be the last Java Sparrow I own. I will need to find a good place to donate this large cage – which I originally lugged all the way from St. Louis – and bags of unopened bird feed, dried fruits and green vitamin pellets.

Even though I knew Monta was really old for a Java Sparrow – maybe nearing 100 in bird years – I was so used to him being there all the time I miss him. Rest in well-deserved peace, Monta.

Pao crosses two bridges

This morning we took a longer than usual walk. The video is a little long, but if you like, let’s watch it together.

First we walked up to the Nakagawa, turn right and continued until the Hon-Okudo Bridge.

We then crossed a bridge together for the first time.

When we reached the other side we turned left, and on the right side we saw a large, beautiful park. Sometime, Pao and I will probably come and visit the park together.

We continued walking until we reached the Heiwa Bridge, crossed it, and returned to the other side of the Nakagawa.

We continued walking along the river, and left by the usual slope, stopped at a park along the way, drank a lot of water, and finally returned home.

Along the way, Pao failed to notice a cat that was lying there. Did you see it?

Great quarterly whole food plant based test results for 8/20/2020

My blood sugar remains normal (even went down some more), cholesterol is fantastic, blood pressure is great, and I continue to (very slowly) lose weight.

The rest of this post are details, if people are interested in numbers and more!

What I eat and don’t eat

I follow WFPB (whole food plant based) eating: mostly vegan, no oil, very limited nuts, and limited sugar and salt. No intermittent fasting, no keto, lots of carbs including potatoes and fruits. I stick to low calorie density foods to help with weight loss. For example potatoes are surprisingly low calorie and bread is very high calorie. 

For lots more details on the things I eat and the people in the field I follow take a look at my post from last November: November 28, 2019 – quarterly test results | Doug Reports

Basically I eat lots of veggies, including starches, and have fruits every day. In other words, I eat lots of carbs. Carbs do not impact negatively on blood sugar or weight. 

Logging with MyFitnessPal

I log my food and exercise calories in MyFitnessPal, and keep within 1500 net calories per day (food calories minus exercise calories). 

Today is my MyFitnessPal Streak Day 3,014. Daily logging in MFP has been a great sanity check and prevented me from having a complete rebound when I fell off the wagon in the past. 

I’ve lost a total of 54.6 kg = 120 lb, currently weigh 74.4 kg = 164 lb, have lost 42.3% of my original weight, and am at a normal BMI. I’m at the lowest weight I’ve been in my entire adult life. I’ve only lost 1 kg = 2.2 lb since my last checkup though. But slowly losing is better than a rebound!

My stomach still sticks out a bit, and in Japan my shirt size is LL (maybe M or L in the U.S.), so I will continue healthy eating and doing as much exercise as I can. Actually, I’ll continue healthy eating and exercise even after my weight is perfect. This is for life. 

My doctor said I really don’t need to lose any more weight though. He was pretty emphatic about that. He did think I could add more upper body muscles and should generally move more. I know I reported the same thing last time, but I really do have to start those upper body exercises! Or maybe do swimming. He was enthusiastic about that idea. And there is a public sports center near here. Not sure what they are doing during the pandemic though.

Blood test results

Here are the latest and previous results. Normal ranges are in parentheses. 

Total cholesterol (120-219)

2020: Aug 20 – 108; May 21 – 124; Feb 20 – 120

2019: Nov 28 – 118; Aug 29 – 116; Jun 8 – 136; Mar 19 – 133

108 is very low. Below normal range. But it’s supposed to be heart healthy this way. 

HDL good cholesterol (35-80)

2020: Aug 20 – 39; May 21 – 43; Feb 20 – 40

2019: Nov 28 – 46; Aug 29 – 40; Jun 8 – 34; Mar 19 – 38

Normal range. 

LDL bad cholesterol (70-139)

2020: Aug 20 – 46; May 21 – 56; Feb 20 – 54

2019: Nov 28 – 55; Aug 29 – 56; Jun 8 – 73; Mar 19 – 72

Quite low! The lowest for me ever. Also lower than normal range.  But, again, that’s supposed to be great for your heart. 

Triglycerides (30-150)  

2020: Aug 20 – 69; May 21 – 93; Feb 20 – 107

2019: Nov 28 – 62; Aug 29 – 79; Jun 8 – 129; Mar 19 – 114

Went down even more, and well within normal range. 

Blood Sugar HbA1c (4.7-6.2)

2020: Aug 20 – 5.6; May 21 – 5.8; Feb 20 – 6.1

2019: Nov 28 – 5.9; Aug 29 – 6.1; Jun 8 – 5.5; Mar 19 – 5.9

2018: Dec 20 – 6.5; Sep – 8.2; June – 10.8

This dropped some more again. The doctor said I have my blood sugar under control and there was nothing more to do about it. Remember, he finally decided to drop all blood sugar medication last November.

This value does not fluctuate much over the short term. It’s a 2-3 month average. It’s a great improvement over time (it had been dangerously high), and has been in the normal range since March, 2019. 

In fact he said all my blood values were fine and I just should concentrate on being active and moving about. 

My blood pressure was a great 113/66. 

The nutritionist was also very pleased, as long as I promised her I was eating tofu and using soy milk to get enough protein. Honestly though, there is protein in everything I eat. I don’t know why people worry about vegans not getting enough protein. Anyway, I mention soy and she’s happy. She also suggested lifting PET bottles of water at home for exercises and laughed when I said I guess I have no excuses not to work out.

More on the “E” Word

Exercise… 

I have also been taking my puppy, Pao, who will be 9 months old in a week, for walks along the river, so that helps. He’s gotten quite large. Last December his weight was 1.3 kg = 2.87 lb and I could weigh him on my food scale. Now he’s 23.35 kg = 51.5 lb! So the Doug/Pao ratio is currently 3.19, close to pi. 

And onward…