Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Gotcha Day, Harris!

We are back from France, voilà. I will write about our trip later. First things first: while we were away, we missed celebrating Harris's 1st "Gotcha Day" anniversary, which was Monday. A year ago, we drove him home from Kitten Associates (our new friend Robin's shelter in Connecticut) in strange, unsettled weather and eerie light — we were just ahead of Hurricane Sandy, which hit the coast that night. Our kitten didn't notice a thing; our kitten was mellow.

Here is Harris today, not entirely pleased about his witch's hat with a spider:

How tiny he was a year ago, in the first photos we took. He liked to bite everything in those days:

He is still kittenish and has yet to grow into his big white feet. And he's a snuggler — similar to a lap cat but even more clingy and cuddly. He burrows into us, sleeps between us, and lies limply in our arms, purring. I never had a snuggler before; they're great.

He has a sweet, demanding personality. If he wants my attention, he'll nip me on the arm, jump into my lap, or "comb" my hair by raking it with his claws. If he wants to chase the laser pointer dot, he fiddles with the lid of the box where I keep it. He tends to get everything he wants, from us and from Possum, who still treats him and Toffee as "his" kittens, watching over them and giving them baths. Harris closes his eyes and revels in the attention, managing to look both babyish and royally entitled.

All three of us are besotted with him, in case you couldn't tell.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Au Revoir

I've been busy today running errands, spending time with the cats, and re-overpacking the suitcase I overpacked last night for our little trip to France. (My husband is going to speak at a conference.)

I doubt you'll be hearing much from me over there, but you never know. We will spend only about 48 hours in Paris and then take the train to Marseilles to stay for another 48 hours or so. It will be in the low to mid 60s and probably rainy in Paris, but warm and balmy in Marseilles (and wherever else I may go part of a day: maybe Aix,  Arles, or Avignon). But those forecasts fluctuate hilariously from hour to hour on Sometimes I find that they expect a torrential downpour on a certain day, and then suddenly it's gone, replaced by a big surge or drop in temperature. So I overpacked.

Now I'm going to spend a little more time with the cats. It helps to know they are good company for each other when we aren't around.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Late Postcards from Maine: Eagle Lake

Look what turned up in the mail. Maine is a dim memory, since I've spent the week preparing for our quick trip to France, starting this weekend. But I love remembering our walk along Eagle Lake in Acadia National Park, which was closed. But that didn't stop us, or anyone else from the looks of things, especially the cars parked along the roads.

Fall color, but with plenty of green.

It was a moody day, alternating dark clouds and sudden flashes of bright sun.

Bright water and a clear sky.

 Such dramatic, changing light on our walk.

You can't go wrong.

My kind of hiking trail — a carriage road that's walkable in boots or flip flops.

Pithy comment about the government shutdown outside an MDI inn.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

These Birds Are Rooting for the Beards

Full team regalia for the ducklings in the Public Garden today. Full team regalia everywhere you look — even the lady at Gary Drug was wearing her shirt and cap. No beard.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A London Lobster & an Idea

A dear friend of mine recently returned from London; she travels there often and knows all the best things to do and see. She's the kind of friend who will ask seriously if you want her to bring you anything from abroad. I'm the kind of friend who takes her up on it. Since I know she loves Harrod's, I asked her to visit the pet department (4th floor) and get us a tiny peach-velvet catnip shrimp (prawn).

Why didn't I buy this precious item when I was buying a hedgehog, giraffe, and motorized guinea pig at Harrod's in May? Ask my husband: he's responsible for our catnip shrimp deprivation. He keeps saying we have too many cat toys, since they fill a basket. But he has been outvoted repeatedly on this issue, 5 to 1.

Naturally, Harrod's was out of catnip shrimp on the day my friend visited. She and a clerk patiently searched through all the cat items — an amazing variety, I've never seen anything like it — in vain. So, in keeping with the shellfish theme, she chose this sweet little lobster instead. I love its delicate, pale-peach lobster feathers — and so does Harris. He stole it off my desk and chewed them up before I had a chance to remove the labels and photograph it properly:

Harris thinks all lobsters should have feathers.

I think all cats should have access to the quantities of cat toys that Harrod's has. What do you think of opening a cats-only shop in Boston? How many dog-centric, or dogs-only shops do we have? I can't keep track of them all: Pawsh, Polka Dog, D'tails, Four Preppy Paws, Dogfather (North End).... Even my favorite, Fish + Bone, is at least 80% dog. It's time Boston had a cat shop, which would sell only the healthy (and hard to get) foods that owners can buy with a clear conscience. (No kibble.) 

I know that someone has been hoping to open a cat café in town. Theoretically, I should love this idea, but I worry that Americans won't be as respectful or well-behaved around the cats as the Japanese (and French) have been. I'm often surprised at how people behave towards my cats, including friends, relatives, and workmen who say they love cats and even have a few of their own. Some make hissing noises almost instinctively — "Psssst!" "Ssssssst"  — thinking this will attract my cats. It's a hostile sound that instantly drives them away. Or they call, "Hey, come over here!" loudly and cheerfully. Or they try to pick up the cat before the cat has investigated and accepted them. Or, instead of stroking, they ruffle the cat's fur backwards or thump their backs, which might be fine for dogs but rarely is for cats. And so on. 

Keep in mind that I'm talking about people who love cats, not those who say they don't. The "haters" often behave better around cats because they keep their distance and ignore them. (Of course, people usually "hate" cats because cats decided they detested them first. Often, such people simply have voices that are loud or grating to cats' ears.) So the cat café concept troubles me. Given the ways that many Americans behave toward cats, I think it will be tough to retrain them. 

But imagine a cat shop with everything you read about online but can never find, plus a few friendly, adoptable rescues to keep you company.... It would be a great place to hang out without having to drink bubble tea, another thing I will never understand. 

Send your capital and retail experience my way, and we can make this happen. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pumpkins and Creeps at Wilson Farm

We drove to Wilson Farm in Lexington yesterday to get our Halloween pumpkin. My husband usually carves it but my contribution this year is battery-powered, color-changing eyeballs. I can't wait.

Wilson Farm is always a happy place, but they tend to go bananas for Halloween and Christmas. They have haunted hayrides for kids with all kinds of scary tableaux out in the fields. Two years ago, they covered a huge outer wall of their store with a dense wooden grid, and each square held a pumpkin. They didn't do that this year, and they were low on exotic pumpkins of the green, gray, and Cinderella varieties, for example. I was told they'd sold out a while ago. We consoled ourselves with some perfect, hot, sugar-covered cider donuts at two for a buck. They were sticky as well as comforting. And then I found a strange little green and yellow striped pumpkin, which is what I'd had in mind all along.

I tried to talk my husband into a squat, peachy-beige Cinderella pumpkin with broad, rounded lobes. He said, "Gourdian Not!" He thinks he is so clever. It's a good thing he lives with me.

The hard part was finding a middle-sized, nicely shaped pumpkin for my husband to carve. (Mine will sit around as autumn/winter decor. Pumpkins can last for months.) Wilson's had loads of big pumpkins and plenty of little sugar pumpkins, but nothing in the modest size we like for carving. We would up with the smallest big pumpkin we could find, with a curvy stem.

Big, fat pumpkins everywhere we looked.

If you've been following this blog for at least a year, you know that I judge pumpkins primarily by their stems. The vast majority of a pumpkin's personality is in the part that most harvesters chop off practically at the base. I search for long, curly, dramatic stems but they're rare. I found one once, and at the register, the salesclerk lifted the pumpkin off the scale by the stem before I could stop him, and of course it broke right off. I can't win. But I was pleased to see some progress: interesting stems on the tiny pumpkins I got from Savenor's and Deluca's this year. Someday, farmers will figure it out and pumpkin aesthetics will be much more interesting.

There was hot cider to go with the cider donuts, and freshly made caramel apples, which could be rolled in sprinkles or nuts if the caramel didn't seem decadent enough:

Along with pumpkins and food, Wilson Farm has been going heavy on Halloween decor in recent years. I photographed a selection of creepy characters for your delectation — as Rod Serling might have said, once upon a time, introducing an episode of  Night Gallery. It was one of my favorite shows when I was too young for that sort of thing. I guess I liked being terrified. 

Most of the creeps in the farm shop were life-size and surprisingly off-putting. If they'd had stuff like this when I was a kid I probably would have been a wreck:

Ugh! Kids these days....

These two remind me of the couple in Beetlejuice (Alec Baldwin and Gina Davis).

I'm pretty sure I used to work with these people.

I know I used to work with these two.

She would have deeply upset me when I was a kid. 
My inner child is freaking out even now.

On a less gruesome note, here's some Indian corn. I know that's politically incorrect and I don't care:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

More Crimes of the Hearth

Naturally, we watched the Red Sox last night, biting our nails. (I leave the room when I can't take it anymore; these have been tough games.) The dehumidifier was roaring, groaning, and snapping away, a few feet from us and the TV, making it impossible to hear the crowd cheering at Fenway from our bedroom window. Fenway is less than a mile from us and the sound travels well on cool, post-season nights. There's a slight time-delay during broadcasting, so loud cheering alerts us to good plays just before we catch them on the screen. When games are tense, it's wonderful to hear the crowd going nuts while we're still waiting for the pitch.

Anyway, phew.

After the game ended, the errant pumpkin I've been struggling to keep on the mantel decided to try jumping to freedom again. (A Tigers fan?) Lieutenant McBeastie was on the scene immediately. He arrived with remarkable — rather suspicious — speed, in fact. Chief Inspector Maquoddy soon joined him on the ground:

McBeastie took the lead in the investigation with the Chief Inspector's approval. Two junior detectives, Von Rottenpot and Pantherina, took their time about making their appearances. Here you can see McBeastie subduing the pumpkin, which was putting up quite a fight over being returned to the mantel. 

 McBeastie resorted to unorthodox interrogation tactics as his fellow officers carefully looked away:

Officer Pantherina wonders the pumpkin might Cause Her to Die.

The pumpkin is back on the mantel, and I'm debating about opening up my package of Quake Hold Museum Putty to keep it there. (I'm secretly terrified to try the stuff. I'll want to remove that pumpkin someday, and what if the mantel comes with it?)

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Pumpkin on the Loose

I bought lots of miniature pumpkins this month. There's a new variety that looks cuter and more convincing than those squat orange gourds that have been around for the last few years. I filled a bowl with them:

 I had one left over, so I put it on the mantel next to a tiny Halloween collage:

The pumpkins in the bowl know how to behave themselves, but the mantel pumpkin decided to roam the living room last night. It rolled, or leapt, from the mantel and landed behind the fireplace screen below. Then it gently maneuvered the screen to make an opening large enough for it to escape through.

Note the opening, just big enough for a pumpkin:

The pumpkin perp didn't get back to the farmer's market, or wherever it was going, however. I found it sitting sheepishly on the other side of the living room, in front of the bookcase. It was trying desperately to blend in with its surroundings. And failing. 

I returned it to the mantel. I'd like to know why it went on the lam but it's not talking. These pumpkins aren't cheap; they should know their place and stay there. There's probably a law against vagrant and wandering produce. If not, there ought to be. I contacted our local authorities but, as usual, they looked dim-witted, answered vaguely, and could not shed light on the situation:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Drip Drying

We are lucky. Most of our apartment is fine: we have water, power, heat, a roof, walls. Our living room and kitchen look pretty normal. All the mess is in the bedroom, where the emergency-services guys built a dust-containing, room-within-a-room using sheets of thick plastic, lots of tape, and expandable metal poles that that connect to our ceiling. Inside, along with the water-damaged area, there dwells a monster — a huge dehumidifier that is drying out the ceiling and wall. It roars like a jet engine, so it felt like we were trying to sleep on a plane last night. Every few minutes it pumps water into a hose that drains into our bathroom sink, and that sounds oddly like a motorbike. So if you imagine our bedroom as a jet cabin with a motorbike track, and you've captured it. As of today, there's also a large plastic chute that inflates and deflates loudly every now and then. It makes me jump since it sounds like a cat knocking over something heavy and valuable.

Possum says this chair belongs in the bedroom.

We were told that the dehumidifier would go away this morning, so we left it run all night to finish its job. But that was wishful thinking. It will be with us for at least a few more days, with guys coming to check it and do tests early each morning. We're turning it off tonight; we need to sleep.

We've been told that we shouldn't expect to be back to normal for about a month. (Knowing how these things go, I'm figuring it will be two months, so maybe in time for Christmas.) We need to wait until our building manager receives, renegotiates, and agrees to an insurance settlement, and gets the check. Then he will begin patching, plaster, and paint (the whole ceiling, because it's blue). We are going to try to keep the plastic room assembled for the plastering and sanding, but I'm not sure we'll be able to put up with climbing in and out of it whenever we need our closet. I also keep knocking over poles when I walk by.

The cats are curious, interested, and not entirely happy. Wendy thinks She Is Going to Die from the noise at any moment, all the time. She misses meals and only comes out when my husband is around. She hides under the bed, where we can reach in and pet her. She's cornered there but for some reason, she purrs when we stroke her. I actually get most of my petting time with her as she fears for her life.

Toffee hates the noisy dehumidifier, too. I found him hiding in a corner of the bathroom. He refused to eat, and when I pick him up and held him, he was trembling. I reasoned with him, and then Harris came in to visit. Harris is calm about noise and weirdness. He likes workmen; he sniffs their shoes, curls around their legs, and watches them work. He and Possum hide under the sofa during the noisy work, and they are afraid of sheets of plastic. But after they emerged to inspect the job, they have been going about their business, acting cool and brave.

After Harris visited him, Toffee settled down and joined them in the other room. I'm surprised he is so nervous. But I also think he's the one who tried to get into the plastic room late last night.

Possum follows me around, complaining. When the humidifier is at its noisiest, he meows loudly over the racket. He likes a tranquil environment as he keeps saying. I tell him I do, too. (We got a new writing assignment this week: scripts for recorded tour for a quilt show. He was skeptical that we'd have anything to say about quilts beyond how great they are for naps, but I persuaded him that there are visual and historic aspects worth considering. That will keep us busy in December, along with all the other things that keep us busy every December. And, no, we are not putting our payment towards a bicycle rickshaw. Probably not, anyway.)

The workman and I just took everything out of the long crawlspace below our bedroom ceiling, which is packed to the gills with stuff, to check for water damage. I'm not sure why we didn't do this on Tuesday — perhaps because it was too dreadful to contemplate. Today I was ready. Most of the boxes and bags contain Christmas ornaments, lights, wrapping paper, and bows, but we store bedding, luggage, and other stuff there, too. Miraculously, everything was dry. Water came down along both sides of the crawlspace but everything within was safe.

As I keep telling myself, we are so lucky. I think about what survivors of storms, tornados, floods, and fires go through, and I realize I have no problems at all.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Possum's Gotcha Day

We missed celebrating Possum's 4th Gotcha Day on Tuesday in the chaotic aftermath of the plumbing leak in our building. I didn't remember until last night. Possum was gracious about it, as always. He had spent the previous two days giving me dirty looks, knowing looks, strange looks, and resigned looks, which I misinterpreted as his dislike of our torn-apart bedroom and workmen making noise... because he refused to correct me. When I finally figured it out, I fussed and cooed over him appropriately, which he lapped up like cream (although he's never had cream). He is my favorite — the only cat I've ever had who speaks English and Norwegian. And he is such a perfect, good-natured brother to Wendy, Harris, and Toffee.

I get nostalgic at this time of year, so here are some photos of Little Possumus P. Passamaquoddy, back in the fall of 2009:

Here's teenage Possum in January 2010:

And here's Possum yesterday, hanging out with Harris on a pile of clean laundry. As you can see, he is glaring at me because I still hadn't remembered his day.

Later on, the two tried a little pairs slacking, a competitive feline sport that's similar to pairs figure skating. (I've written a lot about pairs slacking; just click on the link above if you need more information.)

As you can see, they are working on the "Reverse C" position, an old favorite of Possum's from years ago, when he first trained with Wendy and Snalbert was their coach. Possum's doing well in his pose, although his troublesome right ear shows tell-tale alertness that would be a points deduction in competition. Harris, on the other hand, is a mess. He can't resist sneaking peeks over his shoulder to make sure he's mirroring his brother, his right ear is out of control, his facial expression is wide-awake (when slacking, he should always appear sleepy, deeply relaxed, or possibly comatose even though he's carefully holding his pose), and he's grabbing his tail with his paw, which would knock him to the bottom of the ranking if he tried it in front of a judge. That is the equivalent of figure-skating with a chair for support. 

Possum has his work cut out for him with Harris for a slacking partner. At least they are, physically, an extremely attractive, well-matched pair. I swear that was not in my mind when I found Harris on and fell in love with his photos. It's just a nice coincidence.

Happy 4th Gotcha Day, Possum!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013


(I stopped watching tonight's terrible game. I blame Farrell for not taking Peavy out in the 2nd. Call me crazy, but I stand firm. He killed our chance and needed to go.)

I woke up to a strange sound yesterday morning. I thought it was one of the cats Toffee eating something noisy and probably deadly. Then I realized it was water dripping, and then I realized it was in our clothes closet. I knew what to do: this happened to us a few times several years ago, when there was a rather large, somewhat dim, Italian tenant in the top-floor apartment who liked taking deep baths in his shallow tub. He'd stuff a sock into the overflow drain, fill the tub to the brim, and climb in. Then water would overflow across the floor, leak into the third-floor apartment below, soak that, and then pour into our bedroom closet. We had big plastering, painting, and dry-cleaning bills that year. (He did it three times before he was evicted. His girlfriend was even worse, but that's another story.)

So, as I said, I knew what to do: I jumped out of bed screaming. Then I collected myself and carefully rescued my husband's collection of silk ties. They're all one one hanger, and I managed to maneuver it neatly between the streams of water. Then I saw that water was also coming out of the bedroom ceiling, inconveniently in front of a very large oil painting. We managed to remove that safely, and then I put on my robe, grabbed keys, and went up to my neighbor's place. She is seldom home, so I got towels to soak up the water on her floor, which was coming into our place, and ran downstairs for trash bags, which I spread around to stop the flow of water to our place.

Then I ran up to the top floor. The neighbor up there had taken a quick shower and had no idea there was a leak. Then I ran downstairs, where my husband had piled all of our clothing from the closet onto the bed. I called our building manager and walked into the kitchen, where I found water all over the cooktop and counter.

The building manager was at another building, dealing with a water leak.

Toffee lives his Princess and the Pea fantasy on top of our clothing.

He eventually sent his plumbing team, who found and fixed the problem: a clogged main drain. He also sent a flood-damage squad but we didn't need them; they mainly deal with wall-to-wall carpeting and none of us has any. There actually wasn't that much water (just a shower's worth, not a tubful). It's just that when there's any water coming out of your ceiling, it looks like way-the-hell-too-much water.

Every time I ran out the door or opened it to a repairman, Harris ran into the hall, so one or more of us had to corner him and deposit him inside. I'm getting better at it, but he's also getting faster.

After things started to calm down, I remembered that, the first time the Italian guy flooded our place, it was also the day after we'd returned from a trip to Maine. That time, there was so much filthy water in the closet that we had to haul every bit of clothing to the cleaners and some of it was ruined. (The cleaners were sympathetic and gave us a bulk discount; the bill came to $520, I recall.)We spent the next several days wearing shorts and vacation clothes that were in the washing machine after we'd unpacked.

Like that time, we were lucky we'd come home just in time for the disaster: if we'd been away on Tuesday morning, we would have returned to a much more serious mess.

I figured we were much better off this time. We had lots of clean clothing. Nothing had been damaged except part of the bedroom ceiling, and I hoped it would dry without any marks. End of story.


Today the building manager came by with a Moisture Professional (MP). I don't know what else to call him. Insurance companies insist that homeowners follow certain procedures to prevent mold after water damage, to prevent future claims for mold. The MP had a nifty handheld device that detects and measures tiny amounts of water. He found water across our ceiling, so now our ceiling has to come down, and blowers and fans will come in and blast at the opening for days. I have experienced this before; we had mold in an outer wall once, when the building needed repointing in a bad way. So I know that a huge mess will be made, and that the repairs and cleaning will drag on forever. And our ceiling happens to be painted blue, so the whole thing will probably need repainting and that will be a pain. Because it was the last time we had it painted, we learned that it likes to crumble upon contact with rollers.

I predict that we will seldom see Wendy for the next month or so, although the boys will enjoy it. Possum, Harris, and Toffee love repairmen and are always underfoot.

The MP is coming back at 9 tomorrow with his demo crew to rip out our ancient plaster and horsehair ceiling. I will keep you up to date on our squalid living conditions over the next few days. Or weeks. Or months.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Postcards from Maine: Obligatory SWH Sunset

We're home from our weekend in Southwest Harbor — we had a great time. Everyone staying at the inn had figured out how to get into Acadia despite its being closed. Visitors parked their cars along the roads instead of the closed lots and did their thing. As long as they weren't on motorbikes or motorcycles, the rangers let them alone. Although no one we spoke with had made it up to the top of Cadillac Mountain, the Beehive was climbed, Sand Beach was cavorted upon, and Eagle Lake was circled. We walked some of Eagle Lake ourselves, and also took the Wonderland Path by Sea Wall. We saw beautiful fall color, which I will show in an upcoming post.

There was a brilliant sunset on Friday night. It was too cold and I was too soaked from the hot tub to go down to the dock, so I took these photos from an upstairs porch at the inn. I should have been braver; the harbor was pink and orange, and spectacular:

Because the air was chilly and the pool was 65 degrees, my husband and I always had the hot tub to ourselves; last year was warmer, and we'd had lots of company. So we caught up with people at breakfast time instead, and during a dinner at the little restaurant down the road. We also ran into several locals who've become friends over the years. It's a small town but there always seems to be plenty to talk about. And on Sunday, the innkeepers hosted a cocktail party where we caught up with more friends, old and new. We have a  much more active social life up there than we do in Boston, which is pretty weird when I think about it. So I try not to.

I can report that the overzealous fiancée of last year did not reappear — but her ex-boyfriend and his wife did, to celebrate their first wedding anniversary.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Postcards from Maine: Searsport Haunted House

We drove to Mount Desert Island yesterday along Route 1, and stopped in Searsport to photograph an abandoned house that's a favorite landmark of ours. It must have been beautiful once upon a time, but now it seems to be melting into the earth:

It's a dramatic sight from Route 1.

A little paint, a few new windows, and it would be charming....

It needs a nicer front door... and some new EVERYTHING.

I like the undulating lines of the collapsing roof on the addition.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Way Life Should Be: Reality TV...

We are heading to Southwest Harbor, Maine, today, for the annual Columbus Day "last hurrah" at the inn where we've been regulars for 15 years. It seems that almost everyone who stayed at there last Columbus Day is returning this year; we had fun getting to know new friends and reuniting with other long-time guests. For a long weekend, we were one big, happy, only mildly dysfunctional "family."

The inn was also the setting for a romantic comedy that weekend: a regular guest showed up with her new boyfriend. She likes to bring her boyfriends to the inn. Unfortunately, she discovered that a recent ex-boyfriend had also checked in for the weekend — on his honeymoon. The inn is small, so the situation was awkward. But the woman managed to get herself engaged by Sunday afternoon. (Several of us couldn't avoid witnessing her maneuvers in various public parts of the inn. They were bold and transparent. But they worked.)

The new fiancée asked the innkeepers to reserve the whole inn for Columbus Day 2013 for her wedding. The innkeepers refused; it's a big weekend for returning guests. (As for the rest of us, we were skeptical of the whole affair.) She reserved a different weekend. One bitterly cold night last winter, the innkeepers called to say hello, and mentioned that the wedding had been canceled.

I don't know if she is coming back this weekend. I sort of hope so. I heard she showed up with a new boyfriend in the summer. And, believe it or not, another ex of hers had booked a room at the same time.

Inns can be such interesting places.

This year, Acadia National Park is closed, of course, and that means no popovers at the Jordan Pond House Restaurant, which sits in the middle of Acadia, a beacon of butter and strawberry jam. We are more disappointed about the loss of the popovers than the park, of course. Having the park closed gives us even more excuses to lie around at the inn and poach ourselves in the hot tub instead of hiking or otherwise exerting ourselves Out in Nature. But, during our visit in August, we discovered that the Jordan Pond House gives you unlimited, free popovers at dinner, whereas you have to pay for extras for lunch and tea. This was earth-shaking news. We immediately made a plan to take the innkeepers to dinner this weekend and we all intended to indulge ourselves with as many popovers as we wanted. (How many? For me, that would be three, tops. Yes, one more than they normally give you. It's the idea of unlimited popovers that has so much appeal.) I am keeping my unbuttery fingers crossed that we have a working government again by the end of today — and not only for the popovers, believe me. (I tend not to wax political on this blog but I have been seething over the shutdown. Those traitorous, un-American idiots....)

We will have to devise another decadent dinner plan, probably involving lobster.

Time to head north, and find out what kind of reality show we'll be witnessing from the hot tub this year.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


I added a few pumpkins to the mantel and Harris settled in as the finishing touch:

None of the pumpkins has been batted to the floor yet but it's only a matter of time.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

A Disagreement

Last night, Possum and Toffee had a political argument. It happened as they were sitting on top of our recycling hamper, parked near my desk these days. The boys take turns hanging out on top of it, so it's more convenient for cat photography than recycling since we can rarely lift the lid. (It usually sits outside our door but has come inside because we're painting the hall.)

The disagreement was clearly about strategies for ending the government shutdown, but I don't have particulars because it was conducted almost entirely in Cat, which I barely understand. Possum is the only cat I've known who speaks English to me, and he refused to translate. He'd never rat on his little brothers, even when they're behaving badly. He considers them still young enough to be allowed a few crazy ideas. Still, whatever Toffee was suggesting got Possum hot under the ruff, for he felt it necessary to smack him out of it. So Toffee had to be ragging on either President Obama or Norway; those are the two revered topics that will drive Possum to blows. Toffee is a dreadful student of geography; I don't think he knows what Norway is, let alone anything about it. So we must assume that Wendy has been talking Tea Party theory with the youngsters again, doing a slick job of swaying our impressionable young liberals. We thought she had come around to the rest of the family's way of thinking (after a lot of wrestling matches with Possum). But she has a short memory and has an idée fixe that the Tea Party is all about afternoon cookie breaks.

The photos are blurry action shots, so try imagining them as a movie:

Toffee is not conducting himself like a gentleman.

They come to blows.

Possum prevails.

Toffee refuses to capitulate.

Toffee sticks out his tongue, a Miley Cyrus–inspired provocation that Possum loathes.

Possum is astounded at Toffee's insolence (and knowledge of pop stars).

Possum's final blow. Toffee jumped down and went away.