Sunday, March 29, 2015

A Surprise

“Here are our hens,” I said sweeping an arm toward the chicken run.
“They’re beautiful,” my friend Shawna said. I smiled.
“They’re big,” my friend Ellory said. I beamed.
“How many eggs are they laying?” they asked. I slumped.

At Christmastime Mr. Wonderful got these hens for one reason: to have home-raised, organic eggs. Now just before Easter we had two adult chickens who ate quarts of organic feed, bushels of fresh fruits and a never-ending supply of garden vegetables. Without producing any eggs. To say I was having doubts about this fowl decision was an understatement. 

“The hens need to start laying eggs,” I said stirring my tea.
“They will,” Mr. Wonderful said downing an espresso in two jolts of his wrist.
“When they’re ready,” he said jumping in his car to drive to the studio to work on the weekend again. Alone on a Saturday I made a few phone calls but was interrupted by a commotion from the chicken run.

Squawk! Squawk! Rushing out to see who—or what—was threatening our hens, I saw our fat black and white Barred Rock chicken strutting around the run like she owned the place. Squawk! Squawwwwwwk! It was Pilgrim making all the noise, which I thought was pretty surprising… for a hen.

Then Pilgrim flapped her wings and landed on the roof of the coop. She opened her beak and continued the cacophony. Squawk! Squawk! She was crowing from the roof of the coop, which I thought was pretty surprising… for a hen. Picking the bird up I returned her to the ground where our other fat hen, Honey, was happily devouring a head of fresh lettuce.

But Pilgrim refused to be grounded. She flapped back up to the roof and crowed repeatedly. Squawk! Squawk! Squawk! I thought this was extremely surprising… for a hen. Then it hit me. Perhaps Pilgrim wasn’t a she, but a he? If Pilgrim were a rooster it would explain why we didn’t have any eggs yet since 50% of our adult flock was biologically incapable of laying eggs.

I marched over to the local Fowl Whisperer with the bad news.
“What’s wrong?” our 85 year-old neighbor said opening her front door.
“We have a rooster, Norma,” I said running a hand through my hair. 
“Oh, yes. We’ve been raising a barren rooster.”
“… All roosters are barren.”
“That’s not what we signed up for!” Norma’s bright blue eyes took pity on me. Grabbing a pair of sunglasses she propped them in front of her reading glasses and pulled the front door closed. “Show me.”

In our backyard, I pointed at the offending black and white fowl. 
She shook her head. “That’s bird’s too fat to be a rooster.” 
“It’s fat because it’s been eating an organic all-you-can-eat smorgasbord for three months.”
“The comb on her head is too small for a rooster.”
Just them Pilgrim flapped up to the coop’s roof again. Squawk, Squawwwwk!
“It’s even crows like a rooster.”
“Hens make noise once they’ve laid an egg.” 
I opened the side compartment to the coop and showed her the interior. “There isn’t an egg to squawk about,” I mumbled. 
“Well,” Norma said crossing her arms. “Chickens do make noise right before they lay their first egg.” 
I raised my eyebrows. “Chickens also make a lot of noise when they are roosters.”
“She’s a hen, ” Norma said retreating to her house. “Just be patient.”

The next morning over breakfast I informed Mr. Wonderful that Pilgrim was a rooster. My spouse exited to the chicken run to check on his flock.  He returned a minute later.
“What do you think of your rooster?” I said pulling bread from the toaster.
“Surprise!” he said revealing a tan egg in his palm.
I dropped the toast. “He laid an egg? He’s a she!” I squawked. “She laid an egg!” I squawked again. And if I could flap up to the roof I’d squawk some more. What a surprise! OUR HEN LAID AN EGG! SHE’S A SHE! BEST SURPRISE EVER!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Fridge & Big Al

Whoo-Wee! I've been riding high all week because 1) Spring is here; 2) Our new refrigerator was delivered; and 3) My comedy wine book was nominated Best Humor Book of 2015!

The refrigerator has a special place to chill wine bottles: be they red, white or Blue Nun.

As for my wine book, Evolution of a Wine Drinker, was highlighted this week by Big Al's Books and Pals! You can read about it herethere or everywhere! The site also discusses the three other nominees.

1) Heads You Lose by Rob Johnson
2) Mischief in Italy by Beate Booker
3) Vulgarian Vamp by Barbara Silkstone

Congratulations to those writers for their nominations! Thanks to Big Al and Co. for my nomination! And if you would like to vote for my book, you can do so HERE! (I've even included directions!)

Thank you so much for your support and help! Now I'm off to admire my refrigerator and taste how cool it really keeps my wine...

Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Vote for my Book

There have been questions about voting for my wine book to be Best Humor Book of 2015. So here's how you do it:

1) Click here:  (

2) Scroll down until you find this box:

3) Sign in with your email or Facebook.

4) Click on the HUMOR section. 

5) At the drop down menu, you will see my book so VOTE away! 

Thank you for your support!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

My Book Nominated!

Another fancy Saturday of feeding the chickens, taking out the trash and cleaning out Jackson's litter box.

But things really turned up when I learned my book Evolution of a Wine Drinker was nominated as the Best Humor Book of 2015 on Big Al's Books and Pals website! Yippee! A while back Big Al's gave my book a 5-star review and now this? 

Thank you reviewers of Big Al's Books and Pals. I appreciate this nomination and all the work you do reading, reviewing and promoting writers and books. Also, congratulations to the other three humor writers who received nominations in my category! I'm among some talented funny people.

Now I've never done this before but...

Evidently this is a "Reader's Choice Award" so... if any readers of my book would like to vote for it, you can do so via this link. At the link's site, just go to the blue box at the bottom that looks like this:

Sign in with your email address or Facebook. They request a sign-in to limit people to voting just once for each category. No stuffing the ballot box at Big Al's!

Also, voting closes on March 28 at 11 PM Pacific Standard Time, which is just two weeks away. So if you're going to vote, and I hope you do, sooner is better than later!

Thanks for your support! And thanks to Big Al's Books and Pals! Cheers!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Signs of Spring

The calendar says it's still winter but I beg to differ. All over Southern California spring is baaaaack!

The California Poppies are blooming:

The Lavender is a purple haze of blooms and bees:

And my favorite succulents--Senecio aka "Blue Chalksticks"--are thriving:

Welcome back spring!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Fowl Whisperer

“Do you think the chickens get lonely?” I said opening the coop door to allow the fowl to access their chicken run.
“They have each other,” Mr. Wonderful said tossing some grapes into the run.
“But is two enough?” 
The birds raced each other for the grapes and just as Honey had one in her beak, Pilgrim clawed and crawled over Honey’s back seizing the fruit from her bill to gobble it down—along with every other grape available—leaving Honey with none. We watched in stunned silence.
“On second thought, maybe two chickens is two too many.” 

Mr. Wonderful wanted egg-laying chickens for his Christmas gift so he got them as his Christmas gift, but what I suspected would happen, happened: I spent more time with them than he did. As an early riser I did a lot of the feeding, watering and fluffing of the fowl’s feathers. Which wouldn’t even be worth noting if the hens were holding up their side of the bargain. In other words: producing eggs. They had been advertised as “egg-laying chickens” not “voracious grape-addicted monsters”. 

The critters were now five months old and according to the Farmer’s Almanac, due to be laying eggs—tan, golden or otherwise—but they weren’t. Instead what they were doing was scratching up their chicken run for grapes, clucking at me to give them more grapes and duking it out over grapes. If these chickens were human beings, they’d be wine drinkers.

“Maybe they’re not laying yet because they’re getting too many fruity grapes and not enough vegetables?” I said over an egg-less breakfast. 
“Nope,” Mr. Wonderful said eating a bowl of cold granola.
“Maybe they need some more feathered friends?”
“Maybe they need a fowl whisperer?”

Not that I knew of a fowl whisperer but if there were whisperers for horses, dogs and cats, why not for our fair fowl? 

A little google search introduced me to a radio personality who calls himself The Chicken Whisperer but since I couldn’t fly my birds to Georgia for a one-on-one with him, I had to find another whisperer option. 

Google also told me about a book called “The Hen Whisperer”, a work of fiction where a boy hits his head and gains the ability to communicate with his hens. But since I needed non-fiction help, I had to find another whisperer option. 

I heard clucking coming from our chicken run but it didn’t sound like our fowl. I left my computer and tip-toed to the run. 
“Bok-bok.” It sounded again. “Bok-bok-boo!”
Through the slats of the fence between our property and Harold’s, I saw a white-haired woman bent over looking our birds in the eye.
“Norma, are you okay?”
“Fine,” her voice warbled. “I’m just conversing with your chickens. They’re so interested.” I looked at our hens and indeed they were mesmerized: staring at Norma through the fence trying to determine if what they heard clucking was a Buff Orpington, a Barred Rock or a Rhode Island Looney Lady. She had their attention.
I pressed an eye to the fence gap and asked, “What do you know about chickens?”

Norma said she grew up with chickens on her parents’ farm. Feeding them and collecting the eggs was her responsibility. 
Wow. I’d been looking all over the internet for a fowl whisperer and Bam! right next door I found one in Harold’s blue-eyed wife. Our neighbors never ceased to amaze me.

“In fact,” Norma continued, “When I was just a girl and World War II broke out taking my daddy away, I was tasked with plucking and slaughtering the chick—”
“We’re not slaughtering our hens,” I said stroking Honey’s tan feathers. “Say, do you know why our girls aren’t laying eggs yet?”
 “Give them time. They’ll do it soon. Until then, keep talking to them. I know I will.” With that, Norma disappeared into her house. 

I bent over looking our birds in the eye, inhaled, then let loose a resounding, “Bok-bok-boo!”
With curiosity our Buff Orpington and Barred Rock looked at me—the Rhode Island Looney Lady—and clucked back. It wasn’t a freshly laid egg, but hey!—they clucked back!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

The Bench

“Good morning, Harold,” I said carting away more dead palm fronds from my too tall palm trees.
“I’ve got a gift for you,” my 86 year-old neighbor said entering his garage.
“A gift?” I said trotting after him. “For me?”
“Here you go.”
“It’s… an old plank of wood.”
“You’re welcome.”

I love presents (who doesn’t?) and I like our neighbors but I wasn’t sure how to feel about Harold’s plank gift. Basically: Should I like it? Dislike it? Or say “Oh, you really shouldn’t have. Really.”? Mr. Wonderful was much less conflicted. 

“How nice of him,” my spouse said running a hand over it.
“It’s an old plank of wood.”
“Real wood’s expensive these days.”
“It was cluttering his garage.”
“One man’s trash is another man’s plank.”
“It’s paint color looks like a sick peach.”
“It’ll go with everything.”
“Like sick peaches.”

Mr. Wonderful dismissed Harold’s pre-spring cleaning plus all my concerns and promptly put the plank to work. That day he was moving gravel from one corner of our lot to another—as men are wont to do—and needed something to run the gravel-filled wheelbarrow over. He used the plank. 

Later he needed to level off the gravel he had moved from the old pile to the new pile—as men are wont to do. He used the plank.

The next day he needed to sweep the Pétanque court clean of fallen leaves—as Pétanque players are wont to do. He used le plank.

Bringing my spouse a refreshing glass of water I found him in the garden eyeing two of our palm trees.

“What if,” Mr. Wonderful said “I made a permanent bench of Harold’s plank?” My spouse explained how he would cut the plank to fit between the two palm tree trunks thereby making the palm trees useful (finally!) but also make further use of Harold’s plank. This was the best idea I’d heard from Mr. Wonderful that day so I supported it wholeheartedly with more glasses of water, a back rub and several cheers. Such as:

“Two-Four-Six-in the bank,
      Here’s to the best ever plank!”  

“Plank and trees unite!
Fight, bench, fight!”


Once my spouse had finished sawing the plank and setting it between the palm tree trunks to form the bench, we sat on it.

“I like it,” I said brushing away the sawdust “except for the sick peach color.”
“Let’s paint it brown to match The House,” he said.
“But first let’s show Harold what his plank has become.”

Just then Harold appeared. 
“You built a bench?” he said shuffling toward us on the walk.
“With your plank, Harold!” I said smiling. “Come sit on it.”
Mr. Wonderful stood and gingerly Harold sat down on the bench next to me.
“It fits two people,” he said patting the bench. 
“He made it out of your plank,” I explained. 
“Good work,” his hand slid over the wooden seat and its sick peach color. 
“Thanks for the plank,” Mr. Wonderful said. “We’re lucky to have a neighbor like you.”
“You’re welcome,” Harold rose and retuned to the walkway leading back to his house. “But you need to paint that bench. Right now it looks like sick peaches.”