Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Drunk Rooster

Long before there was a Rooster in the Hen House, there was a rooster in the kitchen.  A ceramic, "Majolica" rooster, bought at an estate auction, but a rooster none the less.  He has graced our kitchen for over eight years.

 "Majolica" seems to be a somewhat loosely used term for almost any brightly colored, brilliantly glazed and exuberantly decorated ceramic.  It is a pottery that was originally developed on the Spanish island of Majorca. Mai Yorrrrrrr Ka.  

In Renaissance times this tin-glazed pottery was heavily imported into Italy, as were Spanish olives and Flamenco dancers.  These should not be confused with dancing Flamingos, which usually only appear after you've been binge drinking for a couple weeks.

By the fifteenth century, the potters themselves were imported to Italy and were provided with many incentives, such as pizza and Tarantella dancers.   These should not be confused with the much aligned Tarantula, which actually is the reason the Tarantella dance was invented.  Supposedly the dance has the ability to cure the bite of the tarantula spider, which is silly.  Tarantula venom is weaker than that of a honeybee and, though painful, is virtually harmless to humans.  That doesn't mean I want to keep one in a jar on my night stand.  Or the garage for that matter.  In case you were curious.

I have heard the term "majolica" used by some of the experts on Antiques Roadshow when referring to any brightly colored ceramic covered with an opaque glaze of tin oxide.  Victorian majolica supposedly originated in Britian in the 1850's, modeled after the Italian original.  It's a big basket of stuff, only I probably wouldn't put it in a basket if I had a bunch of it.  It'd probably break.

I'd pack it in a big heavy box like I did during our four year, five move walkabout marathon.  I got pretty good at packing things.  I had to.  My lovely wife loves lovely, breakable, wonderful objects of ceramic and porcelain enchantment.  Witness the packed china cabinet behind the rooster.  Tea pots; beautiful, colorful, whimsical, incredibly fragile tea pots.   

I have asked her, "Why not collect stamps?  They're beautiful, colorful, whimsical, artful and appreciate in value.  And they only flutter when they fall.  And they can all fit in a cigar box, which can fit under the front seat of the car any time you move."

Then came the roosters on the wall.  They've been around the house for almost as long as our majolica buddy above.

Then came a ceramic hen with a couple concrete chicks.  My wife don't mess around.   Those chicks are about the weight of an eight pound shot put.  Or chimpanzee.  One or the other.  I'm not really sure right now.


This brings up a very good point.  Most all these roosters, hens, chicks, and other delicately fragile porcelain creations of visual pleasure and art that reside throughout this house have come from the browsing of and meanderings through antique shops, antique shows, garage sales, thrift stores and kitschy-kool boutiques on a couple continents by my lovely wife.  She is the preeminent interior design and fashion queen, with a keen, artful eye for color, space, coolness and whimsy.  Nope, no unicorns or cowboys here.  We got a lady with a balloons, baby!

I am but the humble underbelly guy.  I'm out in the real coop with the chicken poop while she's on Mill Street, Grass Valley or somewhere in the south, like the Carolina's, or Tennessee, discovering more marvelous porcelain wonders.

Speaking of underbelly, I am actually in the process of making a repair on the Drunk Rooster, the subject of this post, and that is why we're even going to press.  He came next, but since he's the star of the show you're going to have to wait until he's good and ready to arrive.

After the Drunk Rooster came the rooster rug, a bright little throw that sits on the floor where you stand on his face when you're doing the dishes.  At the kitchen sink. 

I think the pewter water pitcher came next.  He's been supplying water on the dinner table for a number of years now.  I think he's pewter.  I doubt he's silver.  Hope he's not lead.

All of those creations have been with us prior to moving into this house.  After arriving here, my lovely wife found this ceramic planter.

And then a dear friend and Nevada County realtor extraordinaire Pam Amato, knowing of my wife's affection (affliction?) for roosters, recently gave her this little wood cabinet.   If you are ever thinking of buying or selling real estate in Western Nevada County (Grass Valley, Nevada City, North San Juan) Pam's the one.  She knows the area well and knows the intricacies involved with every aspect of the real estate transaction.  There's none better, we know.

And then, quite by accident, about ten months ago, Goldie came along.  You can read all about his arrival and the genesis for this blog in my first post, "There's a Rooster in the Hen House!"


Was it pre-ordained that I write a blog about a rooster?  Did some of my wife's design motif somehow rub off over time and subliminally direct the course of our lives?  Did the constant visualization of that creation allow a live one to show up at our door? 

I understand the actual visualization thing, the power of visualizing, appreciating and directing the course of your life force.  Chanting mantras under the moonlight.  Making it happen.  Being the ball.  Singing in the shower and so on and so forth.  But I'm talking about accidental visualization here.

I mean, what if you had a few monkey action figures, as well as a couple stuffed apes and a few orangutangs in frames upon the wall.    The next thing you know they could all start to fly.  Then what are you going to do?  There's enough monkey business going on out there, it doesn't need anybody's help.  Help, where was I?

My lovely wife has three lovely sisters.  One of them is a twin.  Of my wife.  It's been a fabulous experience  for me, having all of them gorgeous women as a large loving part of my life for over forty years now.  Wow.  Seems like only yesterday...

One thing I have always understood is the special bond those girls have for each other, especially my wife and her twin.  Ah-chi-mama!  That's a relationship that began before time. They were waltzing together to Doris Day or Perry Como before time began.  For them.  In their womb.

One thing they all did together prior to this economic down turn was an annual "sisters" vacation.  Three of them live here in Northern California, and the outcast now lives in Tampa, Florida.  I say outcast with love and affection.  She and her husband are a couple of the subjects in "Florida, Ann Curry and..." posted somewhere in this here blog.  She's just an outcast because she doesn't live here in California.

One legendary excursion linked the sisters up in Charleston, South Carolina.  Besides all of them being timelessly gorgeous, these women are a heck of a lot of fun.  They can drink, howl, arm wrestle and dance like beauty show contestants.  Or roller derby queens.  Angelic and bawdy auras of frivolity radiate from their attraction like a rainbow over a cascade of colorful carnival balloons.     

One magical evening of debauchery (as the story goes), while on the lightly impaired, unfettered excursion from the restaurant to the circus or from the circus to the lounge or maybe the car, my enchantingly lovely wife happened upon the Drunk Rooster in a shop window.

She promptly forgot about the meeting until he showed up via UPS at our door in Grass Valley, California several weeks later.   He is known as the Drunk Rooster for the obvious reason that one of the parties was slightly inebriated when they first met.


This bad boy is about the size of a real rooster, standing at twenty inches high.  We weren't exactly sure what he was made of for years, thinking maybe he was even a wood carving.  But then I dropped him on the floor, part of his base broke and I figured it out.  It's some kind of plastic.  Very hard and dense.  Probably from Brazil. 

You may have noticed the base above, here's a couple more shots:

These shots were taken after a bit of it had been glued back together.  The rest of the base essentially went poof.

How do you drop a rooster that lives on the floor?  Well, when stupid (that's me) was cleaning the floor the rooster went up on the table, and then stupid tried to one hand him back down after cleaning and he slipped right out of stupid's hand.  Nice mark on the hardwood floor, which isn't from Brazil (thankfully) but is now scarred hardwood nonetheless.  And shards and bits of the base went everywhere.  Thank me very much.  As if I had nothing else better to do...

This was not something that could just be left alone, he's one of my lovely wife's favorites.  And he certainly was not going to fix himself either.  Kind of like the rattlesnake under the deck.  Pretending he wasn't there didn't mean it would be so.

After some reflection, I hearkened back to my Cub Scout youth of ten or eleven, when my Mother was also the Den Mother.  She had us boys involved in all sorts of crafty type projects, one of which I recall involved Plaster of Paris.  Plaster of Paris is a powder that you can moisten to just about any useful consistency and which can then be used for many purposes of creation and repair. It's nothing like getting plastered in Paris.  That's something totally different.  In case you were wondering.

Another Cub Scout project involved working with plastic resin, like putting rocks, bugs or toads in a mold, pouring resin over them and then giving the ensuing paper weight to your weird Uncle on Halloween.  Or your Mother for Christmas.

After playing with all that resin in an enclosed space it's a wonder I can even remember the Plaster of Paris thing.  That was the mid-1960's, followed by a drug and alcohol infused 1970's.  Geez, it's a wonder I remember anything.

So I got me some Plaster of Paris and I filled in the spaces.  I rubbed it all down with a moistened cloth until it was a pretty even surface, let it dry and then wet sanded it with a real fine grit until it was smooth.  Fortunately the base was already kind of wavy and had an uneven surface, which made it very easy to match.

I've already painted the base bottom black with an acrylic paint found at a craft store, and I am now working on matching the existing base top color and feathering it in.  The first coat (above) is a little dark, so I just need to lighten the shade a bit more.  It won't be a direct match, but it'll get close enough to work.  In the shadows.  Of a very dark closet. 

And even as we go to press, a new, antique T-Pot has arrived in our home:

Cock A Doodle Do.

Chicken Update

I have recently experienced having some of our chickens spazzing out at night.  I don't know if it's the colder temperatrure (this is their first Winter) or what, but a few of them have been downright spazzy.

What do I mean by spazzy?  Well, imagine you really like cookies.  And you're really hungry.  And you're in front of a bakery that specializes in your favorites of everything that's cookie.  And the aroma is fresh and inviting, and the door is open, and you wander back in forth in front of the open door trying to figure out how to get in.

And the more you walk back and forth in front of the open door the more frustrated you become because you can't figure out how to get in.  Even one of your buddies, who was already in the bakery gorging herself on Macaroons and Snickerdoodles, comes out, yaps at you for a few, tells you to follow her (you idiot) and then shows you the way back in.  And you still can't figure it out.  That's what I mean by spazzy.

The flock is usually pretty self-regulating, all of them perched up in their cage about 4:45 PM these days, which is just before sunset here in Northern California this time of year.  But one evening last week, they were all huddled together in the outside coop in back of the secure cage.  Goldie, our rooster, had already walked around and perched up inside, essentially showing them the way.  But the rest of the flock remained huddled in back.

A chicken's metabolism slows dramatically when the sun sets.  They're like Ozzy on cough suppressant or Nolte on PCP, which really should be a monkey tranquilizer.  (See, I told you to stay away from monkeys.  You never know how the visualization will manifest!)  You could end up on PCP in the shower with Nick Nolte.  

So I had to get up there and try to herd them around and get them into their secure cage for the evening.  Only they could barely figure out how to get around a corner let alone how to get in the cage.  Which they do EVERY night.

So then they started to get agitated.  And then Goldie, their other protector, got agitated and started gunning for me, so I had to tap him a few feet with my toe.  Kind of like a delicate field goal by a baby ballerina.   

It took a few minutes, but I finally got them all in.  I have to.  There's too many varmints and potential nocturnal predators out here that would love some form of chicken a la king for dinner.  Anytime.  Of course, many precautions have been taken for our girls and boy.  You can read all about those in Chicken Fantasia Land, some where else in this blog.

A couple other nights I had two different hens spazz on me.  One night I had to physically pick a Myrna up and put her in.  She was as docile as cucumber.

I also had to corral an Ethel another night.  She went bat shit nut spazzy.  She went by the open door about seven times, with just about everybody else in the flock inside telling her where they were and how to get in.

I remember something like that happening to me at Winterland in San Francisco back in the early 1970's.  Come to think of it, I'm still missing from one of those shows...