pameladean: (Default)
The vegetarian portion of the household gets the majority of its groceries from Coborns' Delivers. We have been doing this since Coborns' was Simon's. Before that I went out on the bus to shop, but after one strenuous exertion to get everything into the house, I actually weighed the groceries to see if they were really heavy or if I was just whiny. Ninety pounds. All right, then.

In any case, I went out onto the porch to get the groceries in on Monday afternoon, and when I opened the first tote I thought they had given us the wrong order (this has happened once in about a decade) or at least one tote from somebody else's order (this has also happened just once, resulting in the contribution to the downstairs of a collection of strange but sometimes delectable foods like frozen waffles, breakfast sausages, and some kind of strange roll). The top item was a plastic box of blueberry mini-muffins, with a sticker on it saying "Oops! We were out of the item you ordered and substituted this." I had not ordered anything for which a box of mini-muffins could be considered a substitute. I checked the packing list, which did mention that they had not delivered or charged me for a yellow bell pepper because they were out. This was fine; they'd been having a sale on red, yellow, and orange bell peppers and I'd gotten some of each on principle, not because I must have a yellow bell pepper. But obviously one does not substitute blueberry muffins for bell peppers of any color. I brought things in and put them away and checked the website to see if I had mistakenly ordered some kind of pastry, but of course the printed list was just taken from the website and there were no pastries thereon.

I put the package on top of the dishwasher and went to consult Raphael, who allowed as how it would be interesting to at least try a muffin before I offered them to the more omnivorous downstairs people. (We know from experience that we get to keep what is delivered in error, whether we want it or not.) I ended up eating one myself -- it was all right, but I prefer more blueberries in my blueberry muffins.

The cats had been having a hungry day, beginning with fussing at me from seven in the morning on and going right through to demanding food at hours they are not fed and being everlasting nuisances any time I was trying to eat something or even just stepped into the kitchen. I did give them extra treats, but the treats don't have many calories and were evidently insufficient. They get a quarter can of wet food each at around nine in the evening, and were in full-on trompling mode, walking on the laptop keyboard and chewing on the edge of the screen and knocking things off my desk, til I went into my bedroom and read a Sue Grafton book, which provided less scope for demonstrations. Saffron did steal the bookmark and murder it, but she may do that even when not hungry. When it was time I gave them the wet food, which did not prevent their sitting upright and intrigued on either side of the computer while I ate the late dinner that Raphael had produced. This dinner was actually vegan, but they wanted it anyway.

They followed me into the kitchen when I took my empty plate in, so I rinsed it carefully and put it in a stack of others. They didn't come back to the office with me, but shortly I heard an alarming crackly slam, as of a breakable object hitting the floor, followed by a series of exclamations from Raphael. I ran in and was asked to "CORRAL THEM" so that Raphael could pick up the mess. I was fearing broken glass, but evidently a plastic tray full of blueberry muffins makes quite a racket on a wood floor. I put Cassie through the door into the cat-sitting room, but she went back into the kitchen while I was securing Saffron. A second try netted me Cass while Saffron prudently retired to the top of the cat tree and looked innocent, so I shut the door on them. Four muffins were still in the box, so we kept those and Raphael put the rest, in various stages of disintegration, into the organics recycling, peeling off the paper cups where they had not already been savaged by cat teeth. R's primary concern had been that Cassie, after giving a muffin a killing shake, had been gnawing at the paper.

When things were cleared up I opened the door again and they both rushed in and cleaned every minute particle of muffin or paper from the floor.

They were of course entirely unrepentant, and once Raphael was over the worry that Cassie would bolt a lot of paper and then return it in a nastier form to the carpet, we had a good laugh over the killing shake. No muffin will ever harm us while Cass is around.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
First, thank you with all my heart to everybody who's commented on my previous post about starting a Patreon. I'm working on setting it up now.

Second, as I keep a wary eye on the weather reports, waiting for an Active Advisory or a Special Weather Statement to suddenly pop up, I thought I'd tell a couple of cat stories from last Tuesday, when thunderstorms battered and flooded parts of Minnesota, including the Twin Cities.

The weather report mentioned hail, torrential downpours, and wind gusts of up to 80 mph. Raphael and I decided that as the storms approached, we would box up the upstairs cats and put them in the upstairs hallway, with doors shut to make it safe from any broken windows that the storm might cause. If there were any sign of tornadoes, we'd have to rethink this, but we thought it would do to go on with. We painstakingly lowered all the warped cranky ancient storm windows, a ritual usually reserved for some cold autumn day. A little before five, I gave the cats their daily dental treats, which they recognize as Entirely Splendid Food rather than a treatment for tartar. Then Raphael and I stood conferring earnestly in the cat-sitting room for a little while, and then I got out the carriers. Saffron immediately went into one of them, so we shut the door on her. Raphael bent to scoop up Cassie, who is soft and round and winsome-looking, but she is no slouch -- she ran at incredible speed under my bed and refused to come out. We thought the nightstand would protect her from broken glass if necessary; and later she scooted down the hall like a furry fat snake and went under Raphael's bed, which is much sturdier. We put Saffron's carrier in the hall. She emitted one protestation and then went to sleep.

We got a few gusts of wind and some very hard rain and some minor hail, but the power didn't even go out. (I am not complaining.) In time the storm passed. I took Saffron's carrier back to the cat-sitting room and opened the door. She came right out, saw Cassie's carrier standing open, and promptly went into that carrier. After a moment she apparently thought, "Nah. The other one's better," and returned to her own box.

Cassie stayed under the bed. She is extremely fond of her food, but she would not come out for wet food or for additional treats. She did come out for dry food at the end of the day. But the next afternoon right around treat time, Raphael and I happened to be standing in the cat-sitting room talking about something in earnest tones, and Cass went down on her belly and galloped into my office and refused to come out for treats. She made a very careful appearance for wet food later on. We have agreed that we should avoid having earnest conversations in the cat-sitting room around five p.m.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
When we adopted Saffron, the people who had been fostering her brought her over to our house so she'd know that they thought we were okay. They were telling us about some of her quirks, and I asked if they had any tricks for getting her into the cat carrier. After a blank pause, one of the fosters said, "She usually just goes in." I assumed that this meant that if you picked the cat up and headed her into the carrier, she would feel that her dignity required going in meekly rather than struggling.

The first time we took her to the vet, I got out the carrier and put a fresh discarded T-shirt into it, and Raphael dusted it a bit. Cassie hid as soon as she heard the door squeak; Saffron came sauntering along to see what was up, and walked right into the carrier and lay down. It was much too early to go to the vet, and she eventually got out again, but when it was time to corral her, she was back in the carrier and all I had to do was to shut the door. Every time we've taken her to the vet, she's just gotten into the carrier on her own. She doesn't like the vet and is an uncooperative patient, but the carrier is awesome.

Today Cassie was due for shots, so Raphael got out her carrier and dusted it and put a nice thick sweater in the bottom. Cass tends to hide at first, but eventually get over herself -- after all, the carrier might be for Saffron. I had just gotten home from looking after Toliman when Raphael arrived in a rush from a trip to the post office, checked the time, and in a few minutes scooped up Cassie and took her to the carrier. Saffron appeared from nowhere and walked into the carrier just ahead of Raphael's attempt to put Cassie in. I ran out of my office and tried to dump her out, but she wouldn't go, instead retreating to the back of the carrier. I tried to pull her out on the sweater, but she removed herself from it. Cassie does not like to be picked up or held, does not like the carrier, and does not like the vet, so she was struggling a lot. I finally got Saffron to come out, probably because she didn't like the fuss in her place of rest; and she ran off with a kind of flounce of her shoulders, only to return ten seconds later, talking furiously and demanding treats, which we had decided to postpone til Cass was back from the vet.

She forgave us for being weird, but she certainly had no idea that she was doing anything untoward.

Once we had Cassie where she belonged, we started to laugh, and I suggested that Raphael could either have taken both cats to the vet, or taken Saffron "because this is the one I could catch."

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
First! The ebook version of Points of Departure, Pat Wrede's and my collection of all our original Liavek stories plus a new story by Pat and a new collaboration by both of us, telling the often-crossing stories of Granny Carry and the Benedicti family, is on sale for $2.99 from the following vendors:

Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/zppqh9d

ibooks: http://tinyurl.com/jpca42t

Kobo: http://tinyurl.com/jr7adpw

Paperback copies vary wildly in price, but I always encourage people to support their local independent bookstore if they are lucky enough to have one.

Second!

This is what actually impelled me to post. You may recall a cat-related saga earlier in the year when I lost most of our 2014 tax information and then rediscovered it. I'm afraid that I did not, in gratitude, immediately finish preparing the taxes. Sadly, I finished preparing the taxes the week before Thanksgiving, impelled by the realization that one is not eligible to apply for health insurance subsidies on the individual market if one has not filed one's taxes, but upheld by the knowledge that our accountants just last year went to all-electronic filing, so that once things were done the filing part would be instantaneous.

Well, it would have been, but, not really amazingly, there's a deadline for e-filing, and it's in October. So yesterday, after a horrified look at the calendar and a quick call to the accountant's office, I waylaid David as he was heading innocently out the door to take a thumb drive containing a concert video to friends. We went to the accountants' office and had a nice chat with the accountant while the taxes were being photocopied. Then we went to the nearest post office, helpfully pointed out by the accountant's getting me to stand behind a plant in a far corner of his office and peer out the window. We signed the taxes in the car and then, having stood in line for a while, I paid various amounts of money to get the tax forms to St. Paul and Fresno as quickly as possible.

I want to pause to extol the extreme kindness, sympathy, knowledegability, and helpfulness of the Post Office employees, not only to me, but to the many equally infuriating people ahead of me in line who didn't know what they wanted, complained when it cost money, had not packed up their boxes adequately or had forgotten the slips for the packages they wanted to pick up. Every single one of those Post Office employees deserves to be paid twice as much as they get, whatever it is.

Then we took the thumb drive along to our friends and had a lovely chat with them as well.

I was figuring that I would not be able to sign up for health insurance in time to get coverage by January 1, and would need to get some kind of interim coverage for that month. However, I got an email this morning saying that MNSure had extended the deadline to December 28th, which provides a much better chance that things will work out.

Third.

Thanksgiving went off pretty well, given how many people we had and the curious attrition that had occurred in our supply of dishes and flatware. David and I had Lund's sushi for lunch; the rice had suffered in storage, but it was still tasty and prevented sudden blood-sugar drops later on. I did not manage to make my small casserole, which is just as well, because the new-to-me mock cheese I'd been planning to use is really not up to snuff and would not have worked properly. I did make the roasted vegetables, and they were delicious. My youngest brother was a delight, and did cook the salmon for non-eaters of turkey. He called up recipes on his phone, and when informed sadly that no, we did not actually have any parsley or almonds, he just kept looking until he lit upon a reduction of mustard and balsamic vinegar with garlic and olive oil, which was so tasty that my other brother ate the extra salmon filet I'd had plans for. This continued a theme: [livejournal.com profile] arkuat had brought vinho verde because he knows that I like it, but I was too busy running around during the appetizer phase, and everybody else drank it all. Next year I am going to manage better.

My mother brought mashed potatoes, including a non-dairy version just for me; she also brought braised celery and leeks, which is about a dozen times as delicious as you think it will be, even if you think highly of the idea. [livejournal.com profile] fgh's cranberry sauce with ginger was excellent with salmon. Both her daughters came along this year, which was extremely pleasant, and they brought a very nice spread of appetizers. And my mother and local brother and I were very glad to see our youngest, even though he'd arrived at 2 am on Wednesday and was expecting the band's bus to collect him again around midnight on Thanksgiving. My family accordingly left around nine, and [livejournal.com profile] lydy kindly gave Eric a ride home so he wouldn't have to cope with the holiday bus schedule; but Felicia, Rachel, and Judy stuck around to keep us company while David carved the rest of the turkey and reduced the carcass into a form suitable for soup. The house smelled of turkey soup for the next day or two. I can't eat it, but it still smells lovely to me.

Fourth.

International Bad Cat Day, pastry version. So I went to a monthly gathering of fellow writers at a bakery that sometimes has olive-oil pastries flavored with orange and fennel. I don't know if there is egg in them, but they don't do me any harm, so there can't be much. They had the pastries, so I got half a dozen and ate one while socializing and drinking tea with all the lovely people. Then I met Eric for a date and gave him one. Then I gave Raphael one. The following day, I ate the fourth, and reminded Raphael that there were two left. We had a late dinner that night. If it's just the two of us, we often eat dinner in Raphael's office, with the door shut. My office has no door. If you eat where the cats can see you there are various behaviors that make finishing your food difficult, let alone reading or watching TV or even conversing while consuming it. So we had our dinner and watched whatever we were watching at that point (Dr. Who or Parks and Rec, probably). When we came out, it was time for the cats' own supper. Ordinarily the two of them pour into the office with the appearance of about a dozen, tails upright, voices proclaiming starvation.

No cats. "WHERE ARE THEY?" I said. "WHAT HAVE THEY DONE?"

There was no depredation in the kitchen. In my office, however, the brown paper bag containing the last two pastries -- which I had carefully set on a tall filing cabinet that Cassie couldn't get onto in one jump, and that I believed Saffron could not, less because of the height than because she couldn't get a good run or a good view of the top first -- was on the office floor with the bottom torn out, and both cats were feasting on the pastries. Raphael took the bag away from them and then I cleaned up the crumbs, to much feline protest. They had had quite enough to be going on with. Next time I am just eating everything at once. Possibly with some nice vinho verde.

I wish I had five things, but I don't seem to.

I wish you light in this season of darkness.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
We got an extension on filing our taxes this year. I had very good intentions of dealing with them much sooner than now, but didn't get to actually sorting papers and finding vital information until last week. I ended up with seven or eight file folders with stuff in them, a brown paper bag of papers for recycling, and an as-yet-unsorted mass, mostly of medical information, but with a leavening of charitable contributions and so on. I put the file folders, with all the W2 and other income forms, and the sorted household expenses and rental income information, back into the brown paper bag that said 2014 TAXES in large friendly letters, and then just slid the folders with sorted stuff in them down one side of the bag. I left the recycling in my bedroom, where I had been using the bed for sorting because my desk is a horror show; and I brought the bag of actual tax information, sorted and not, back into my office, because I was still discovering random credit-card statements and receipts for prescription medication and technicians' invoices for fixing dishwashers, and so on. Then I spent about a week and a half avoiding more sorting, though the deadline is approaching pretty quickly. At some point in this interval, I took out several brown paper bags of papers for recycling, labeled RECYCLING in large friendly letters.

Do not lecture me about this system. I know it is stupid. However, it has got me through catching up on *mumble* years of late taxes. Let me tell you, a brown paper bag for the year in question is a huge improvement over my previous method, which I don't intend to discuss because nobody could refrain from lecturing me about that one.

This afternoon, the internet went down. Well, I thought, I guess I'll sort some more of that stuff for taxes, and maybe get all the utility bills entered properly, because that's very tedious and I won't do it if I can do something more interesting. I picked up the brown paper bag from the location where I had left the one that said 2014 TAXES in large friendly letters. It said 2015 TAXES in letters superficially just as large but noticeably less friendly.

There are really too many brown paper bags in my office. It is okay, in my opinion, and do not start on me because I will not listen to you, to have bags of both useful paper and recycling. However, having the lovely shimmery moon and stars mobile that Eileen gave us as a housewarming present, which we recently had to take off the library light fixture but hope to hang elsewhere, in a brown paper bag is confusing; and having extra copies of the reissued Secret Country trilogy in a brown paper bag is confusing, and having a bag of brown sugar, a lidless refrigerator dish and a recipe for scones in a brown paper bag is DEEPLY CONFUSING. It's also less than helpful to have bags saying 2009 NON-TAX. They raise hope only to squash it flat again.

I spent a short time whimpering and emptying out bags of recycling. Then I thought, okay, I really do not think that that is the mistake that I made. I always read the bag and go through it before I recycle it. Always. Because I know my system is stupid.

I looked through every brown paper bag in the upstairs. We also have cat toys in paper bags. And sometimes actual cats.

I searched around and discovered that the IRS, grudgingly, has a way to get you a replacement copy of your W2 or other tax form, but it takes a long time. They prefer you to remember everything you need to about your employment, or have actual pay stubs, which seem to be going out of fashion quite fast, and reconstruct an estimate of your income and file that instead. I really didn't want to do that. One can also apply to the employers in question; how long that takes will of course vary with employer. I made about $26 in royalties last year, and the other income was made by David, with at least three different employers.

I decided to sleep on it, since I did not actually believe I had taken all the tax information and recycled it. Then I would have to email the accountants and hope that they would not also recommend the reconstruction of the income stream, not to mention the household expenses. At least the rental income is consistent, and one can get copies of bank and credit-card statements from the respective providers, though they tend to cut off abruptly at the date you want and demand compensation for sending you anything. Still, it could be done, one way or another.

The internet came back up. I started making vegan jambalaya. (NO, really, stop it. Nobody is making you eat it.) I went into my office, and Saffron was sprawled on the desk cushion. I reached out to rub her belly, and my brain said to me, "File drawer." I looked in the empty file drawer. Yes, yes, yes, it's empty because everything is in brown paper bags. It was not empty. In it was my bag with the folders and the unsorted receipts and statements, with 2014 TAXES in large friendly letters.

I now recalled quite clearly that Saffron had kept pawing at the bag of tax papers until it fell onto the floor, whereupon Cassie licked some of the bank statements. I have no idea; they were not visibly stained, nor did anything in the bag smell of anything but paper and dust. After three iterations of this behavior, I put the bag in the file drawer. Then, while procrastinating, I forgot all about it.

But now there is vegan jambalaya simmering on the stove, and it seems possible that sorting the damn papers won't be so tedious. At least they are there to be sorted.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
When I tried to get the photos off my phone, the laptop told me that my old device didn't work with USB 3.0, try a USB 2 port. David, applied to for a sanity check, said that was nonsense. When he tried to get the photos off my phone, they came right off meekly. The phone used to be his; perhaps it has some attachment issues.

It's the time of year when one wants to visit the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden as often as possible. Photos below the cut.

Read more... )
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
Saffron has been feeling her oats lately. She has escaped down the front stairs to the cat-free zone several times, though she is very good at letting me pick her up and take her back upstairs, only turning her head upside down to look at me quizzically. She is a large and somewhat unwieldy cat, so she could make a lot more trouble if she liked.

Well, she does like, but struggling to make me put her down isn't one of her methods.

On the Eve of International Bad Cat Day, this iteration, I heard a clatter from the kitchen that did not belong there in the absence of humans. I went in to find Casssie and Saffron both sniffing at the sink drainer, which was on the floor. Very obsessive readers may recall that when I was making pies for Thanksgiving, Raphael and I found the sink drainer stranded in the middle of the kitchen floor. Cassie seldom jumps that high, so I assume that Saffron fished the drainer out and dropped it on the floor for reasons of her own.

This evening, as we often do on a Friday, Raphael and I ordered Chinese food. The restaurant had packed the dishes in the reverse of the usual order; the appetizers were on the bottom. We usually get shrimp in garlic sauce, the sauce of which is very viscous, clingy, and insinuating. It had already, from its position at the top of the stack of takeout dishes, leaked all over the inside of the bag and onto the other dishes and the packets of extra soy sauce and the fortune cookies in their wrappers. I ended up tearing the bag down one side to get at things without making quite such a mess. Then I rinsed some lids and Raphael wiped up some leaks, and we served ourselves. I then put the actual leftover food and rice into the refrigerator, but failed to realize that a torn bag with a lot of garlic sauce in it would be attractive to cats. When we came out of Raphael's office (where we retreat when we don't want cats marauding our food) with our empty plates, Raphael found the empty, torn wrapper of a fortune cookie on the floor of my bedroom, with the fortune lying nearby.

Having ascertained that none of the plastic seemed to have been eaten, Raphael picked up the fortune and burst out laughing. I took it and read, "Tomorrow you will find the item you have been searching for."

This struck us both as irresistibly funny. When we had stopped laughing, Raphael said, "I wonder which of them ate it."

"I would bet on Cassie," I said, "but I wouldn't bet much."

There was no question of who had taken the cookie out of the bag. That would be Saffron.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I spent the last two hours of my night dreaming that I couldn't go back to sleep after feeding the cats, and that I was repeating the word "redwood" over and over and over again and counting trees rather than sheep. When I woke up I realized I'd been asleep, but one somehow doesn't feel one got the benefit if one thought one was not asleep the whole time.

Around two p.m. I finally got it together to start the pies. I got out the battered, greasy paperback copy of the Betty Crocker pie book, and made the crust for an 8- or 9-inch two-crust pie. During this time Ninja hopped up on the open door of the dishwasher, trotted around the kitchen after a catnip mouse, and chased Naomi downstairs. This was a benign interaction; she invited him, though whether she thought I'd like the kitchen free of Ninjas, I do not know.

I mixed the flour and salt together and went to get the pastry blender out of the drawer it lives in with the rolling pins and English muffin forms, in apparent harmony. It wasn't there. David was having his lunch in the dining room, so I opened the swinging door and said, "I can't find the pastry blender." David obligingly got up, saying, "I know where I think it's supposed to be." He then checked the dish drainer, which I had looked in, and the most miscellaneous of the utensil drawers, which I had looked in; and then he checked the rolling-pin drawer, and it was there. On top. In plain sight. "I don't say," said David, "that it was there when you looked, but it's there now." I had been so astonished that I failed to shut the door to the dining room, which is part of the cat-free zone. Ninja zipped past me and went to ground under the sofa. The major breakable items are still put away from when we had visiting cats, so I just shut him in and went back to the pie.

I made the pie dough and rolled out the bottom crust for the mince pie, which cracked all around the edges but did consent to peel neatly off the waxed paper and go into the pie plate with a minimum of resistance. I opened the jar of mincemeat, with some effort, and was scraping it into the bottom crust when Ninja uttered the most piteous sound known to catkind. I have heard it before, but it was still concerning. I opened the door to the dining room and called Ninja. He marked David's chair and the leg of the table and the sofa with his face, and ran under the sofa again.

I rolled out the top crust for the mince pie, which cracked around the edges and refused to be circular, even though I know how to roll pie dough in a circle and was doing just as I had with the other crust. Ninja made the most piteous sound known to catkind. I opened the door and called him, and he ran under the sofa. When I came back into the kitchen, there was a tremendous rattling and crunching from the hallway, right outside Lydy's bedroom, where she was sleeping after having worked all night. I looked around the corner. Arwen was lounging sulkily on a paper grocery bag. She wanted to flatten it, but the bottom was quite stiff and stuck up in her face, so she was leaning her head on it and looking sulky. I calculated that removing her from the bag and taking the bag into another room would result in more noise than letting her crunch and rustle the bag. She has a Siamese voice and often sounds like an outraged goat.

I arranged the irregular crust on top of the mincemeat, pinched up the edges as best I could, poked holes in it with a large fork, and put it into the oven. Ninja made the sound. I opened the door, and he ran under the sofa. I came back into the kitchen and set the oven timer. The paper bag crunched and rattled. I looked around the corner. Nuit was trying to get into the bag, but the top part with the opening was very flat and would not oblige her. Since Nuit's voice, while notable, is not usually used to object to everything one does, I moved the bag into the media room and tried to open it up for Nuit, but it was stuck somehow, and she was affronted and had gone into Lydy's room; at least she did that quietly.

I washed the flour and shortening off my hands, went into the cat-free zone, and captured Ninja in the solarium, where he was standing on the radiator. It was too cluttered in there for him to jump down easily, so I was able to grab him while he was deciding what to do. Or, possibly, he was bored but didn't want to admit that he wanted to come back to the populated areas of the house. I returned him to the kitchen, a defeat that he took quite cheerfully. I set the timer app on my phone, which crows like a rooster until you tell it not to, and went upstairs and had some lunch.

When the roosters crowed I went downstairs and took the mince pie out of the oven and put it to cool on a rack on the dining-room table. Then I made a second batch of dough for an 8- or 9-inch two-crust pie. The paper bag crunched and rattled. I looked around the corner. Naomi, or somebody, had returned it to the preferred spot outside of Lydy's room, and now Naomi was also trying to sleep on it. I reflected that at least Lydy didn't have to work on Christmas Eve, so if the cats did wake her up, she could just sleep later.

I rolled out the bottom crusts for the pumpkin pies. This batch of dough, made from the same recipe and the same ingredients in the same kitchen, and by the same person, and with all the same utensils and in the same bowl, behaved very well in the rolling-out. One crust let itself be pinched up fairly uniformly. The other one balked and dropped bits of crust all over the counter for that fashionable somebody's-been-chewing-on-my-pie look. I put both crusts in the dining room and went upstairs, where I washed the blender, dumped two boxes of silken tofu, a cup and a half of sugar, a teaspoon of salt, two heaping teaspoons of cinnamon, one heaping teaspoon of ginger, half a heaping teaspoon of nutmeg, and two teaspoons of vanilla into it, put the lid on firmly, and turned it on.

When it was all blended, I took the blender jar downstairs, stopping to collect two cans of pumpkin from the steps, where I am trying to learn not to keep random groceries. I mixed the pumpkin and the tofu blend together in a bowl and divided the results between the two waiting bottom crusts. I had forgotten to preheat the oven, but this doesn't take very long with the smaller of our two ovens in the nice new stove downstairs. I decided, however, that two pies on a cookie sheet were too difficult to get out of the little oven, so I preheated the big one. When I opened the door to put the pies in, I saw that the top rack was in the wrong position for these pies, in addition to having been put in crookedly. I pulled the rack out, and Ninja came to try to see into the oven. I got the rack in properly, but since I was in a hurry and trying to elbow the cat out of the oven, the potholder slipped and I burned my finger. I put the pies in, muttering, set the oven timer, and ran cold water over my finger. Ninja got into the sink to assist in this process. I removed him, absently petting him as I did so, put him down, and went upstairs to sit down and not think about pies. I recovered in about half an hour and went back downstairs, where I wrapped most of my presents for everyone. I got through almost all of them because the pies were clearly not done after the requisite 45 minutes, nor after 55, nor after 65. I took them out anyway lest I be scorching them in some invisible way. The edges of the crusts were at least brown by then, and there were a few cracks in the top of the filling.

I put the pies to cool in the dining room with the mince pie and went upstairs. Raphael was just heating up a bowl of soup, so we discussed when we would order Chinese food this week and decided on Saturday. The strainer from the sink was lying on the floor next to the dishwasher. "Why is the strainer on the floor?" I asked, once we had settled the question of takeout. "I was going to ask you that," said Raphael. "When it was in the sink," I said, looking at it more closely, "it had some bits of tofu in it from when I rinsed out the boxes." The strainer looked very clean. "Well, somebody with four feet," said Rapahel. "And probably orange ones," I said. Cass has white paws, and she can't jump very high. Saffron's adoption page, somewhat grimly, remarked that she could jump high. She can, too. "But who ate it," said Raphael, "once it was on the floor?" We don't know.

I looked up vegan whole-wheat crusts on the internet and found a recipe that didn't make me shake my head or laugh incredulously. Did you know that one recipe, quite ordinary in most ways, wants you to put the ingredients in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid, or a large zippable plastic bag, and shake it for three minutes? And then add the water and do it again? I don't think so. I found a more conventional recipe and made it. At this point Ninja stood up on his hind legs and put his front paws on my hipbone, and I looked at the clock and decided that Lydy wasn't going to wake up soon, and fed the downstairs cats. When I rolled out the whole-wheat pie crust, it behaved pretty much as the bottom crust for the mincemeat pie had, but since this one was made from whole wheat, I knew ahead of time that it would do this. I crammed it into the pie plate, pinched up the edges, patched up the cracks, and put it into the oven. While it was baking I wrapped more presents. When it was done I put it to cool in the dining room.

While I was cleaning up the mess from making a lot of pie crust and David was wrapping his presents in the dining room, Eric came over to borrow Lydy's car, and remarked that I did not look too harried. I did not feel too harried, so that was all right. Eric gave me a hug and went on his way. While I was still cleaning up the mess, Lydy came home from what she called a fool's errand to buy yarn on Christmas Eve, having gotten up and gone out in David's car when I was upstairs, and we had a nice conversation. She said the paper bag had not woken her up.

I rinsed out the blender jar, took it back upstairs to its base, and put another box of silken tofu and a teaspoon of vanilla into it. When this was blended, I took it downstairs, and then irritably went back upstairs and got the chocolate chips out of the refrigerator. I melted these in the double boiler and then ran cold water over the outside of the bowl to cool the chocolate off. I should have done the chocolate and let it cool while blending the tofu, but cooking on two levels at once tends to confuse the order of events.

I eventually got the tofu and chocolate mixed together and into the baked pie crust. Then I put the chocolate pie and one of the pumpkin pies in the downstairs refrigerator, covered the mincemeat pie and left it where it was (it is actually vegan, and so contains no meat at all and does not need refrigeration), and took the second pumpkin pie upstairs and put it into the upstairs refrigerator. Cassie and Saffron met me at the top of the stairs and escorted me and the pie into the kitchen, and when I looked the clock I saw that they were somewhat overdue for their dinner. And that it had somehow taken me seven hours to make four pies.

I still have four presents to wrap.

If you celebrate Christmas, I hope you enjoy yours this year. If you are having troubles, I hope they may resolve soon. If you don't celebrate Christmas, I hope people who do are not driving you crazy.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
This morning I was sitting peacefully at my desk with a cup of tea that mercifully does not figure further in this anecdote, and an old Portmeirion plate with a faded image of a cactus on it that was given us by David's mother when she went into assisted living. On the plate was half a toasted bagel with peanut butter and the other half of the same bagel with chevre spread on it.

Enter Cassie, whiskers aquiver, trills spilling out of her. She is not interested in peanut butter, but goat cheese rivets her. I gave up eating and went to put my plate up on the four-drawer filing cabinet. Cats can get up there, but I have warning when they are going to try, and Cass can't really jump that high. Typically, if I put food up there, she understands that it is no longer available to her, and leaves. Unfortunately, there were a plate and a soup bowl from the night before still on the cabinet. I decided to take these dishes to the kitchen, and for some reason probably to do, now that I think of it, with not yet having drunk any of the tea that I said did not figure further in this anecdote, I balanced my bagel plate atop this short pile of dishes because I didn't want to leave it unattended in the office. I have two hands and could have just carried the bagel plate separately, but I did not.

Cassie, seeing that the goat cheese was about to leave her reach, plunged forward and planted her nose and both paws on the bagel plate, which flipped over and landed on the carpet with the other plate and the bowl on top of it. The cactus plate broke in two and the peanut butter and goat cheese mingled with the carpet. Raphael, hearing my cries, came and inquired, "Did Cassie do something?"

I asked that Cassie be removed. Her adoption page said that there wasn't a mean bone in her body, and this is true, but she had a bad kittenhood and does not like being restrained, so she kicked out and scratched Raphael's arm. Raphael put her in my bedroom and shut the door, then went to get a bandaid out of the linen cupboard for the cat wound. Saffron promptly jumped into the linen cupboard and had to be chastised.

"Is it International Bad Cat Day or something?" I asked.

"Why, yes," said Raphael, unwrapping the bandage, "December 5 is, by a huge coincidence, International Bad Cat Day. Amazingly, December 6th is also International Bad Cat Day."

"And December 4th?" I said suspiciously. "What about that?"

"Let me just check -- yes. Also International Bad Cat Day."

Just so you know.

Pamela
pameladean: (Libellula julia)
I'm sorry it's been so long since I posted.

Recent Feline Depredations:

1. A few weeks ago I made a tortilla casserole.  It was pretty good, but I thought it would benefit both from some kind of vegetarian meat substitute and from about double the number of corn tortillas, since they are so nice when they have soaked up a lot of enchilada sauce.  I accordingly bought some Gimme Lean mock sausage at the Linden Hills Co-op, and a couple of packages of corn tortillas from Coborns Delivers.  I ended up keeping the corn tortillas on the unheated front staircase; in the weather we were having, it was more than cold enough there.  The sausage I put into the freezer.

On Tuesday evening, I decided to make the casserole.  I accordingly removed the sausage from the freezer and put it into the refrigerator; and I took the brown paper bag holding the corn tortillas from the staircase and left it on an armchair in the cat-sitting room.  This is actually the upstairs dining room in the view of the people who designed our duplex, but we have it full of cat furniture, regular furniture that cats have clawed, and cat toys; and we sit there with cats.

When I was going through the crisper finding the vegetables I needed for the casserole, I realized that the vegetables I'd gotten for the stir-fry were looking a little limp, and decided that it would be better to make the stir-fry that evening and the casserole the next.  I put the sausage back in the freezer, but I forgot about the corn tortillas.  I made the stir-fry, which was very good.  After we had eaten it I remarked that it was odd that cats had not been plaguing us, especially Cassie.  I went to look for her.  She was meatloafed next to the radiator in the library, a favorite place of hers in cold weather.  Before her in pride of place was a somewhat mutilated package of corn tortillas; around her, as Raphael discovered with a more careful examination, was a scattering of gnawed tortilla bits.  I had removed the tattered package to the trash when I first noticed the situation. Raphael decided it would be best to clean up the crumbs, and told me that Cassie was killing them -- picking them up in her mouth and shaking them vigorously to break their little corny necks -- but did not seem inclined to actually eat them.

The second package of corn tortillas was unmolested, and I put it into the refrigerator.

2.  On  Wednesday evening, I actually made the casserole, though obviously I had to do without extra corn tortillas.  While I was assembling it, Saffron came tearing into the kitchen with her neck fully extended, chirruping and sniffing and chittering.  She considered jumping up onto the stove, decided that the stove was too cluttered, and leapt instead onto the wooden cart we keep the microwave on, and thence to the top of the microwave, talking a mile a minute and sniffing madly.  "There is no meat in this food," I told her, which is a remark I frequently make to both cats.  "Please get down off that cart."  She jumped down and ran around the kitchen, sniffing and commenting; finally she shot off into the library on one of her regular tears.

We ate the casserole and I put the leftovers away without further feline interference.  But when I went into my office before bed to check email once more and put the computer to sleep, the wrapper from off the mock sausage was lying on the floor in there, licked extremely clean.  Since Cassie's method for getting things out of the trash involves tipping the can over, I assume this was Saffron's doing.

3.  When I was placing the online order that included the corn tortillas, Coborns had a big banner up on the website saying that they strongly recommended that people be at home to receive their groceries if the groceries were being delivered on Monday, and that groceries should absolutely be removed from the outside within thirty minutes of delivery, at the worst.  I dutifully went down when the doorbell rang, and took the groceries from the driver and brought them into the warmth.

The bananas were extremely green and are now turning black while still being rock-hard, so I wonder if they froze despite their little foam blanket.  I haven't really investigated them yet.  The soy milk was partially frozen.  Everything else seemed all right.  This afternoon Saffron showed a strong interest in some of the canned and packaged goods that we keep on the built-in the dining room, since there is not enough storage space in the kitchen.  She seemed most intrigued by a bag of co-op cereal, so I removed it from under her nose, and she was affronted and went off casually to show that she really didn't care about the cereal at all.  Or so I thought at the time.  However, later this afternoon when I came upstairs from moving laundry along, on the floor of the cat-sitting room I descried a tattered plastic produce bag and two baking potatoes.   The bag, though it had not been actually closed, was well chewed.  The potatoes looked quite damp.  This was not, fortunately, because they had been licked by cats, but because they were starting to get rotten.  They must have partially frozen too.  I could smell the typical rotten-potato smell when I picked them up. Saffron could obviously smell it much earlier and thought it was less awful than I do, though not actually good enough to cause her to eat the potatoes when she got a good sniff of them.

I will try to follow this with something more actually resembling content, but I thought it would be good to break the ice.  Or do I mean freeze the potato?

Pamela
pameladean: (Gentian)
I have lost (in the house) the battery charger and computer cable for my camera. In the meantime, David came upstairs with a lighting setup and did this:

http://dd-b.net/dd-b/SnapshotAlbum/data/2013/06000x-june-cats/

Note: Cassie is not actually named Cassandra, though I might have called her that once or twice when she knocked over the garbage.

Pamela
pameladean: (Default)
Minicon looms, and I wanted to put down, however hastily, some matters that I will probably never commit to this medium if I wait until after the convention.

New Cat )

Some Anniversaries )

A multifarious weekend, part 1, including Pericles )
pameladean: (Default)
Minicon looms, and I wanted to put down, however hastily, some matters that I will probably never commit to this medium if I wait until after the convention.

New Cat )

Some Anniversaries )

A multifarious weekend, part 1, including Pericles )

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