Posts tagged ‘Soho’
And Saturday belonged to Soho.
I don’t even remember how the tradition got started, but somehow, Soho has managed to throw herself an every-other-year party and a few of her BFF’s braved the fog to help her celebrate her eighth birthday. Here are some pix:
Just a run-of-the-mill birthday, or so I thought. As they stack up, they seem less like a collection and more like, well, old age, I guess. I was planning to be happy with the gift of tyrannical tv remote appropriation (anyone up for an NCIS marathon?) but someone (not naming names, but Victoria comes to mind…with assistance from Ashleigh and the CE) stopped just a chicken feather short of declaring it a national holiday. And now, with not one, but two, birthday dinners and innumerable gifts later, I stand before you, another year older and woefully behind on writing thank-you notes.
Victoria and Ashleigh worked for hours and hours and hours on the second birthday dinner. The food was so amazing I want to go back and have it all over again!
It’s much easier to age when you’re lucky enough to have such wonderful friends and family around. I think my college roommate, Anne, summed it up best with this card:
Poor Soho. For her, it’s just another day. Hey, at least she’s not stressing over a tax deadline, right?
As many Polloplayer readers know, we celebrate Soho’s birthday with an every-other-year party. On the alternate years, we make a donation to DAWG’s pit bull spay and neuter program. Yes, Miss Tart is a philanthropist. You expected less?
There has been some confusion over exactly how old Soho is, and like any woman of a certain age, she is not talking. My records show she was born April 15, 2004, which makes her, in dog years, yikes, 49! I guess we need to start treating her with a bit more respect.
Before anyone calls the ASPCA and cries animal cruelty over a skipped birthday party, let me assure you that Soho will have a happy day. At least one walk, perhaps a car ride, and, most definitely, a birthday pizzle stick. And she did have a few celebrity sightings earlier in the week:
Victoria, who has cooked for us for the past two years, is busy preparing for the MCAT test and has handed off the baton – or spatula, as it may be – to her sister Ashleigh, who just returned to town. Ashleigh just happens to be a professional pastry chef – poor us! Note to the CE: call the carpenter to widen the doorways…
We invited Dave and Karen, Granny, and Alexandra – just returned from a trip to South Korea – to join us for Ashleigh’s debut in our kitchen. Pot de creme all around! Yum!
It’s sunny and 70 degrees here today, although I see that those poor little eagles in Decorah, Iowa, have snow in their nest this morning. Hang in there, East Coasters! Spring is just around the corner!
It must be a global conspiracy. Someone out there has hatched (so to speak) a plan to spill every detail of our chickens’ whereabouts to every predator for miles around.
First it was the neighbor’s Australian Shepherd puppy. Cute as she can be, but I don’t believe her intentions toward the chickens were honorable.
Then it was the brace of German Shepherds that came nosing around, who apparently spread the word to a neighboring Bloodhound that arrived a few days later, no doubt having heard there was a chicken picnic being served.
We decided (with a swiftness unfortunately not rivaled by our government) that the leaks were an immediate compromise to chicken security and must be stopped. Thus, for the first time in all the years we’ve lived here, we’ve closed the entrance gates. Chickens in, everyone else out.
Everyone else, that is, except for the red-tailed hawk that came swooping down a few days later.
Hope and Autumn were having a little walkabout in the hydrangea bushes when the winged threat appeaered. I didn’t see the first pass but heard the girls shriek and as I stepped outside to see what was going on, Mr. Hawk was wheeling toward them on his second – and probably deadly – pass. He saw me and decided to lunch elsewhere, but it was a CLOSE CALL .
The CE thought our plump little hens would be no match for a hawk, but unfortunately, that’s not the case. According to posters on the BackyardChickens web site, “A hawk may not be able to carry off a full-grown chicken, but that won’t stop them from killing and dining on the spot,” or, even more succinctly: “If it (the chicken) is too heavy to lift, it will just bite off the head and leave the body.”
Not a happy thought. Best defense against hawks are roosters, which according to the United Poultry Concerns web site at www.upc-online.org are “hardwired to watch for danger, alert the flock to run for cover, fight off predators protect their hens by continually scanning the sky”. Unfortunately, roosters are gallus non grata here so the girls have to take their chances.
In the meantime, I’ve acquainted myself with the sound of a red-tailed hawk, kind of a high-pitched “kirrrrr-reeee” and I’ve curtailed the girls’ free-ranging opportunities a bit. Bottom line, however, seems to be that every creature on God’s green earth wants a chicken dinner and I will be hard-pressed to change the course of nature.
The chickens aren’t the only ones having a tough week, by the way. Soho went in for minor surgery and has to wear one of those Elizabethan collars for the next ten days. She doesn’t want anyone to see, but you know how those web leaks go…
Here’s hoping yours is a safe and predator-free weekend!
It’s been a good week. It’s been a bad week. Like any other week, I guess, but the lows did seem a bit lower than the highs did high.
First off, our patient is resting comfortably and more or less patiently. Maybe a tad less patiently than the week before. The infrastructure has held up (thank you thank you Victoria and Alexandra), and we got to see a bit of progress at the second post-op appointment on Thursday.
The trip to LA and back is always hard on the CE, not to mention the after-effects of having the cast removed and the wound examined. However, while the incision continues to present a wonderful opportunity for “scariest special effects”, it looked MUCH better this week than last. The doc decided to allow two more weeks of healing before we return and (hopefully) the sutures will be removed and the clunky cast will get traded out for something that weighs less than a cinder block.
The pets have predictably managed to adapt to the new and varied living and sleeping arrangements. Soho has become quite attached to Alexandra, and, of course, Dizzy continues to woo Victoria at every opportunity.
Unfortunately, there has been bad news along with the good. Earlier in the week, we noticed that Amelia was moving slowly and reluctantly, which meant yet another visit to the vet for her. The vet didn’t find anything systemic; an x-ray revealed some degeneration to her hip so she was prescribed an anti-inflammatory medication. Somewhere along the line she apparently injured the hip and the vet surmised that she then sustained some kind of acute trauma that makes it painful to walk. Yesterday I noticed some darkened bumps on her feet and hoped it might mean that bumblefoot might be the problem. Victoria and I took her in for a re-check, and the vet wrapped her feet, but said that she has seen chickens with far worse lesions on their feet still walking comfortably. We’ve doubled the anti-inflammatory dose, but Amelia is not moving, and as of this morning, she is not eating. I am very concerned for her and I think we have to be prepared for the worst.
The toughest news of the week, however, was the call we received from Pollo Amiga telling us that her beloved Tahoe had been diagnosed with an aggressive and fatal form of cancer. Tahoe enjoyed fifteen active and happy years of life, which is a good run for a dog, but had faltered considerably in the past week. The decision was wisely made to spare her further suffering, and I was fortunate to be there to help say goodbye to her. Tahoe was a good dog – we will all miss her!
A fitting dog quote I found:
“He is my other eyes that can see above the clouds; my other ears that hear above the winds. He is the part of me that can reach out into the sea. He has told me a thousand times over that I am his reason for being; by the way he rests against my leg; by the way he thumps his tail at my smallest smile; by the way he shows his hurt when I leave without taking him. (I think it makes him sick with worry when he is not along to care for me.) When I am wrong, he is delighted to forgive. When I am angry, he clowns to make me smile. When I am happy, he is joy unbounded. When I am a fool, he ignores it. When I succeed, he brags. Without him, I am only another man. With him, I am all-powerful. He is loyalty itself. He has taught me the meaning of devotion. With him, I know a secret comfort and a private peace. He has brought me understanding where before I was ignorant. His head on my knee can heal my human hurts. His presence by my side is protection against my fears of dark and unknown things. He has promised to wait for me… whenever… wherever – in case I need him. And I expect I will – as I always have. He is just my dog.”
Just to prove there IS life with two less-than-abled folks running the show, here are some pix from our weekend:
Lovely food, plenty of drink, the sun came out and Soho reveled in the attention. The cards and gifts were, as ever, over the top. On alternate years, we make a donation to an animal organization to offset the bevy of bling and surfeit of swag Soho receives at her party. Good thing dogs can’t really be spoiled, right?
By way of explanation, the biennial event has become known as the “Tarty Party” because Miss Soho, like every proper diva, has a nickname. When she flatters a human by jumping up to sit next to them (yes, we know she’s just trolling for pizzles but we think it’s about us anyway) she does not jump and she does not leap: the only way to describe it is to say she pops. Hence, she is known among her intimates as Miss Pop Tart, which begs shortening to Tarty. There has occasionally been confusion over this moniker, although we won’t name names, will we Bernadette? There are those who have heard it as “Tardy” rather than “Tarty” and since Miss Tart is quite punctual, never late, there are some who interpreted the nickname as meaning, well, that perhaps Soho is not as bright as some of the other dogs on the block. Or in the universe. How such a rumor could get started I cannot imagine. She’s actually quite smart. She just doesn’t want to show off. Don’t let all that fluff between her ears fool you. I’ve caught her reading Proust when no one is looking.
Thanks to all you dear people who do not pass judgment over us for having a birthday party for a dog…and for not telling us if you do.
The storm is passed and the sun has come out, but there are still mud puddles and Soho knows how to find them. This is how she looked after a walk yesterday:
Needless to say, the CE bathed her before she slept with us last night…
The CE and I headed out to Camino Real for lunch today at one of our new favorite places, the Hollister Brewing Company. Varied menu, lots of comfort food. Very casual, kind of sports-bar-like inside with multiple tv screens on the walls, but well-lit and there’s also seating on the outdoor terrace. Always an interesting selection of micro-brews for the beer afficionados, too.
After lunch, we noticed there was a bustling Farmers Market set up in the Marketplace so off I went in search of treats for the chickens. While purchasing some Swiss chard I mentioned to the vendor that it was for my chickens. He signaled me to wait a moment and returned with two large handfuls of carrot tops, gratis. The chickens found these much less threatening than yesterday’s apples.
Since the dogs had been home alone for a full two hours, we decided to appease them with an outing, so we took them over to the Laguna Blanca School field for a walk.
I let the chickens free-range a bit when we returned home, and noticed how prominent Hope’s comb and wattle have become. According to anecdotal wisdom, comb and wattle development and color go along with a hen’s readiness to lay eggs, so my money is on Hope to be the first of the girls to lay. None of the others seem to anywhere near her in the comb/wattle department.
Lily, like Hope, will have what is referred to as a “single” comb. This is by far the most common comb found across the various breeds of chickens. Autumn and Amelia will have the smaller and somewhat less common “pea” comb.
The Latin name for chicken is Gallus gallus domesticus. According to Backyard Poultry magazine, gallus is the Latin word for comb, elsewhere it is described as the Latin word for cockerel, or young rooster. Either way, the comb is clearly indicated. I guess this tells us something about what the Romans thought of the inhabitants of Gaul, which by today’s geographic boundaries encompasses France and Belgium.
Another thing to note in the close-up mug shots of the four girls is that it is also anecdotally suggested that the color of a hen’s earlobe indicates the color of egg she will lay. Chickens with white earlobes will most likely lay white or light-tinted eggs; those with red earlobes most commonly lay brown eggs. We likely still have four to eight weeks before we find out.
Grant’s father is a pastor and he performed the ceremony, which was so special, and Julia’s grandfather, also a pastor, gave the dinner blessing. Julia’s father spoke touchingly of his relationship with her and the joy of newfound fellowship with Grant’s family. All who spoke gently reminded the young couple that “things won’t always be easy” (who knows, Grant, your wife may decide she wants chickens someday!) and that the way to have a marriage made in heaven is to call on the Lord for guidance, in good times and bad. Good advice for all of us!
Dinner was lovely and then there was dancing on the upper courtyard – Julia’s dedication song to Grant was Dusty Springfield’s “Son of a Preacher Man” – so fitting. It was truly a joyous occasion. Chloe made 150 new best friends as she circulated through the crowd all evening, and there were several tours of the chicken coop. Autumn even made a brief appearance on the dance floor!
We felt so blessed to have the boys and their friends there, and Granny, too, and for ALL the help we had – Cathy and Kirstie frou-froued the dogs within an inch of their lives, Bernadette managed – well, pretty much everybody – Dave, cheerful as always, did hours of manual labor, Paz postponed her vacation just so she could come and help, Taylor cleaned and raked himself into a Zen state, Victoria spent her entire day helping out, and Daniel and Amber took on the job of overseeing parking for 150 people. It was a day that reminded me how precious all our relationships are and how grateful I am for all these people in my life.
And just when it seemed things couldn’t get better, Teri visited us yesterday! Teri took over Julia’s job, and, while she was only with us for a school year, she, too, has become part of the family. She recently moved up to the Bay area, and was in town this weekend with her boyfriend, Derek, who clearly loves her, as he took time out of their quick trip to come over and talk poultry and schmooze with Chloe.