30 April 2012

( birds know best with bruce rodgers )

by jennifer hetrick

bonnie and skittles are a bit famous around the boyertown and douglassville scenery, for those who see the winged ones with bruce rodgers of earl township.
the cool colors tucked into bonnie’s feather supply are specific to her being a blue-crowned conure, while skittles is a sun conure. both are parakeets native to south america.
“they go everywhere with me—ace hardware, home depot, lowe’s, the drive-thru at dunkin’ donuts, rita’s, and wawa for the sunday paper, coffee, and donuts,” rodgers says.
the birds are also fame-worthy at sciacca pizzeria & restaurant on route 562 in boyertown.
“and they’ve got their own van,” rodgers says—a 1981 volks wagon, to be specific.
rodgers crafted car seats for them out of cat carriers with perches added to the top, along with food dishes for eating on the go.
bonnie and skittles have their own room in rodgers’ home, and they don’t sleep in cages because he doesn’t believe in caging animals.
“when i was a little guy, my great-grandfather had an amazon parrot,” rodgers says.
his own birds may live to age 30, but amazon parrots are able to live to be 100.
companionship is what rodgers appreciates most about the winged ones in his household. but then there’s also the perk of their comedic efforts and how smart they are, which often shows through their language-tossings.

( all photographs by karl mcwherter

"they know where the bank is," rodgers says, “and they'll holler 'eat' because they want to eat donuts at wawa. they don't know that they're not donuts but blueberry muffins; but i'm not going to tell them."
when rodgers walks into wawa on route 422 in douglassville to get a cup of coffee, he sometimes won't leave till an hour later because bonnie and skittles cause such a stir of interest and socializing in the people there.
most people know bonnie and skittles by name, but not rodgers. they call him the bird man, and he’s a-okay with that.
“people don't realize how intelligent they are,” rodgers says about his adored birds but wing-swept ones in general, too.
“when the phone rings, bonnie will say hello. she'll start talking in some foreign language, putting syllables together that don't mean a hill of beans, really,” rodgers says. “but she just jabbers on.”
it’s fair to say bonnie can be somewhat prolix, when the phone buzzes to life.
“that's why i think she's a girl,” he jokes.
and skittles offers the courtesy of announcing when he has to go to the bathroom, saying poo-poo.
morning is their time to shine and squawk, as in the winter, when they see rodgers put on his hat, they throw a flurry of a ruckus. they like to signal that they're ready to go out into the world for the day.
in the warm season, the trigger is when rodgers puts on his shoes.
although by 5 or 6 p.m., bonnie and skittles are ready to call it a night, making friends with sleep.
as a veteran of the navy, serving from 1968 to 1971, rodgers takes his birds to veterans’ hospitals around the region. the veterans are big fans of his birds, especially with the change of pace and an invite from some of nature’s finest, waltzing feather-wise into the hospitals.
but the veterans (and anyone, actually) who see bonnie and skittles, admiring them for their visual beauty and charm, have to give them their space. that’s what they’re used to, and anyone bumping into their pre-measured yet invisible space is likely to learn the unkind way of an attack, beak-wise. so it’s best to appreciate them from a bit of a distance, for their unique and curious personalities and whimsical little dances.
skittles is known to be considerably protective, too, rodgers notes.
the birds have proved themselves as a delight like no other in rodgers’ life, enjoyed equally with his wife, tina.
one gift bonnie and skittles have given rodgers’ is the encouragement and motivation to quit smoking after 45 years. and for such small creatures as they are, that feat speaks so much more of their special meaning to rodgers. these waterproof joy-stirring types have certainly made a home for themselves in berks county and in a household where they are truly cherished.

( putting some healthier chomps first at good eatz green café )

by jennifer hetrick

rick allebach wakes up every day with the intention of bringing fantastic flavors to those who stop into his eatery, catering kindly to those who prefer or need a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian or vegan chomp-fest. he and his employees kick-start their days in west reading at good eatz green café on penn avenue.
recognizing that life isn’t just about meat and potatoes, but happy to give attention to a great angus burger on the menu, allebach knew years ago that the berks county landscape could use the type of restaurant he envisioned. saturday lunch hours, busily bustling with footfalls and happy bellies, show the success of what he glimpsed in his mind. allebach delivers, too.
with many people not even realizing they have sensitivities and allergies to certain ingredients in food, not seeing that sluggishness and intestinal discomfort after eating is unnatural and can be avoided with healthier meal-time options, the variety of breakfast, lunch, and din-din options at good eatz green café is something beyond treat-status, especially considering the boastful way the food tastes so impeccable. it certainly helps that allebach and his staff work with as fresh of food as possible each bright new day, and of course, even on rainy ones.

( ahi tuna sashimi plate, italian caprese panini, black angus burger, carrot cake & orange-affection ) 
allebach looks at his food-swept endeavor as a dive into a social responsibility of sorts, bringing people the healthiest possible food choices for a better quality of living, no guilt needed, with the bonus of it all being delectable and something to look forward to via fork, spoon, and knife labors.
“when you’re cooking for somebody, they’re trusting you with their lives,” allebach says. “that really sticks with me.”
his staff is thoroughly trained in preventing cross-contamination, too, to be sure that those with certain food allergies are never in jeopardy while they eat, which is something those with sensitivity to gluten often worry about when they go out to eat, because of the severe and painful reactions caused by ingesting the protein found in most grains. sometimes, the reactions are so extreme that it causes those with the allergy problem to avoid going out to dine at all. but that is exactly why those who visit good eatz eatz green café are so enthusiastic to enjoy some table-time in the haven created by allebach.
a bit of care for our sweet old earth also plays a part in the café’s operation. the napkins are made of recyclable material, and the to-go containers are compostable. green beckons well in small but serious ways, so that less makes friends with landfills, in the end.
café hours are monday, tuesday, wednesday, and friday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., thursday and saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and sunday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. visit www.goodeatzgreencafe.com to easily eye-peruse the menu and learn more.