Monday, February 29, 2016

So That Was February

Wendy, contemplating the many ways we might Cause Her to Die.

It could have been so much worse. Last year at the time we were buried in snow, not that I minded all that much. To me, February is just a dull continuation of dreary January. But then, so is March.

Yesterday marked the 65th anniversary of the death of Dr. Jane Sabine in this house, in her 87th year. I've been eager to write more about her here but I'm still waiting to find out how much I am permitted to say and reproduce from my findings in the Sophia Smith Archives at Smith College. I will nag them again tomorrow.

And the cookware saga will be finishing up soon, I promise.  After much trepidation and procrastination, I made a pretty successful second omelet in my new "stick" skillet tonight so I'm finally ready to dish, so to speak.

In other news, this afternoon, my favorite brown merino wool socks unilaterally decided they wanted nothing further to do with my feet and refused to touch them. I was heading downtown when I felt them working their way down my ankles and then my heels; it began when I was just far enough from home to make it annoying to go back. I kept yanking them back up from deep down in my boots, which was awkward and difficult, and I must have looked strange to passersby.... but the socks persisted in bunching up under my arches and were determined to take refuge in the toes of my boots. I tried pulling them up over my jeans, and under my jeans, and even over the tops of my low boots, but nothing persuaded them to do their job. I actually surrendered and took the T because walking in rebellious socks was so uncomfortable.

I pulled them up on the train, and while sitting on practically every bench, fence, stone wall, and chair I passed. I considered going into a UPS store to ask for some packing tape to bind them to my jeans.

They are currently in the wastebasket and we are not on speaking terms.

On the other hand, Wendy and I seem to be on speaking terms for a change. My husband and I decided that even if we can't make her totally comfortable around us, we need to get her used to being handled, in case she ever needs medication. So one of us tries to pick her up every day. We stalk her, speaking quietly and moving slowly after her around the house, and she has begun protesting in her sweet little voice. We keep this up until she freezes in surrender. Then we pick her up gently and praise her as she curls herself into a headless, footless ball of fur, flinching sharply at nothing. Then we gently put her down after a few seconds and watch as she Flees From Certain Death.

Here's hoping it gets easier.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Possum

Him

Last week, I was feeding everyone supper and Possum, as usual, was urging me to hurry. Every night he stands on his hind legs beside me at the counter, hollering and smacking at my leg. His claws needed trimming and they hurt me through my jeans. His badgering impatience finally got to me, so I complained and shooed him away so he'd stop puncturing me. That night we trimmed his claws before we brushed his teeth, and supper time was less painful after that.

On Tuesday, I noticed Possum wasn't at his usual spot beside me, and I wasn't getting smacked. He was somewhere behind me with the others. Not a problem, I thought. Maybe he's finally becoming civilized.

When I put the food dishes down, everyone dug in with the usual gusto, but Possum walked away after a few bites of lamb and sat in the living room. This was strange; this was alarming. Usually he snarfs his bowl and tries to finish everyone else's. Then he licks crumbs off the floor. If he doesn't like the food in his bowl, he has no qualms about taking over the bowl next to his and making that cat switch with him. So this was odd.

The other cats were eager to finish his bowl but I put it in the fridge, planning to try again later. When I did, he refused it. I didn't think it could be the food itself because it's one of the flavors we feed every day, and everyone loves it. Harris had happily finished his portion of the can.

I've had enough experience with old, fragile, sick cats across the years to relish seeing our five chow down. As I watch and listen to them every night, munching in a row, I am grateful they are healthy. I'm grateful we can afford to give them good food and that we are doing as much as we can to keep them happy and well. I'm aware that these are golden years, when no one needs pills, liquids, sub-Q hydration, syringe-feeding, injections, eye treatments, or any of the other nursing we patiently did over the years for their predecessors. I know that more complicated times will come again; we may be lucky to have five geriatric cats growing old alongside us in a decade or so.

Naturally, when Possum didn't eat, I immediately thought about a friend of mine, who'd lost her beloved young cat, Teddy, at Christmas. He was a sweet, sociable Maine Coon type who looked like Lion's twin. He stopped eating one day; she took him to the vet. It was cancer, and he was gone in two weeks. He was only about 3.

I knew I was overreacting; sometimes cats just skip a meal and that's that. But I also know that — more rarely — this is how The End can begin. So it's scary. I can't imagine life without Possum. Not now. I can't imagine life without any of my cats, but I need Possum. He is essential. So I told him so. He gazed at me, exhausted, from a prone position. He has the most expressive eyes of any cat I've ever known but they weren't saying much at the moment. I noted that he didn't appear to have lost any weight.

Two nights earlier, he'd gotten into a bowl of popcorn, so I wondered if it had upset his system.

He spent the evening lying around, which is how he spends about 22 hours of every day. Still, I worried and kept an eye on him. "If he doesn't eat breakfast, he's going to the vet tomorrow," I told my husband, who did not object. I continued to watch and worry silently. "He looks off to me, like something's not quite right," I finally said. My husband looked and said he seemed the same as ever: lazy, fat. But I saw what I saw.

Not exactly like Beth in Little Women; we'd watched the wonderful Winona Ryder version 
together recently. But I noted similarities.


When Possum wouldn't eat his lamb later on, I fed him our roasted chicken breast. I gave him a good amount and felt a little better. He went back to sleep. I texted Connie about my worries, and we got onto the subject of FIP (feline infectious peritonitis: sudden, incurable, fatal, often affects younger cats), the other horrible thing that immediately pops into my head when a cat doesn't eat. (It pops into Connie's, too, which was somehow comforting to know. She is a good person to turn to because she knows so much about cats, is also something of a worrier, and has me mostly figured out, too.)

I said goodnight to Possum and went to bed hoping he'd wake us by puking up a hairball or undigested popcorn kernels and solve the mystery.

Instead he visited me for purring and petting in the wee hours, which doesn't happen often these days. He slept curled beside me under my arm. My husband woke me later to report that, at breakfast, Possum refused his newly warmed bowl of lamb from the night before — but finished a bowl of different food at his usual high rate of speed. I was more than relieved. He spent the day loafing as usual.

At supper he stood beside me, smacking and yelling. I thanked him, and followed his orders. And then I had five happy cats in a row.


The Way Life Should Be.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Annals of Real Estate: The Chicken House

Even if we hadn't admired this house on our way to an open house up the street, I would have perked up and paid attention when I spotted it as a new listing more than a week later. Such a gracious old house, surrounded by old trees. With two porches. It's much too big for us, but sometimes these houses have top floors that can be closed off and treated as attics... to store someone's insanely large scholarly library, for example. And it's in Jamaica Plain, not one of our favorite areas, but they have pancakes there.

All photos: James Brasco, Century 21 Shawmut Properties

 I recognized it right away as the house we'd stopped and studied, not only because it is also on Robinwood Avenue but because I remembered squinting at those little white objects in the third-floor windows. They are chicken knickknacks. Can you see them?

Apologies if this post takes ages to load, but I had to make the photos large because I think you will want to see All The Details.

There is another chicken by the front door. Is it a charming random accent or An Omen?

The answer is clear when you look inside. Note both mantel shelves and the hearth.

I love the archway separating these gracious rooms. I've come to love creamy white walls.
White walls would suit us since we have such colorful furniture, rugs, and art.
But I always like color on ceilings: pale, ethereal greenish-blue for these rooms, maybe.
And some thin, defining molding is needed up there, too... but I digress. 
You won't see an inordinate amount of chickens here.
 Unless you study the prints and look by the windows.

No chickens here. Just a lovely staircase and a leaded-glass window. 
And a cat toy at far right? And do you see some long white socks?

Oh, look! How adorable! Now I want this house. Despite that chicken.
(I like the green paint, too.)

Here in the kitchen, the stenciled walls and marbled doors feel strangely familiar. 
I bet the owner has a copy of Paint Magic by Jocasta Innes (mine is from 1981 but there are later editions). I consulted it to create sponged, dragged, and wood-grained effects for decades.
Blame Jocasta for our living room walls and other colorful craziness in our condo.

Look closely at the stencils. The ceiling fan has lost its blades.
I wish they hadn't painted the woodwork green but maybe it was painted previously.
They painted the enamel sink cabinet but left the stove alone, mercifully.
I still prefer this to countless boring modern kitchen with stupid islands, too many cabinets,
ugly granite, cheap stainless appliances, and... don't get me started.

The dining room: an appropriate place to display to an inappropriate quantity of poultry.
I think that is cat-grass growing on the table. I think I'd like these people.

I like this wall color. But the woodwork is painted. We Jocasta Inness people know tricks.

Ah, an old-fashioned bathroom with the plaster equivalent of cake frosting everywhere.
 I would choose this over a tiled, "updated" bathroom any time.
That is a remnant of the hall carpet next to the tub, I think. Two chickens?

One of these doors leads to the second-floor porch. 
But first you have to get past the trophy chicken.

I'd enjoy reading your comments. Are we crazy to even be thinking about looking at a place like this?

But look at how content that cat on the stairs seems to be. (And our vet is in JP.)

Annals of Real Estate: Back at It, with Pancakes

We are still happy and relieved that we sold that condo we bought in the fall. We continue to explore the factors that led us to make such a big mistake, to learn from the experience and so we can forgive ourselves. For weeks last fall, I'd been in a miserable state of shock and confusion, wondering, "Why in the world did we DO this? How did this ever happen?" as if we'd sleepwalked through all the weeks it took to complete the transaction. Now I think I understand. A complicated stew of reasons led us to buy that place — a "perfect storm" that included pressure from our agent and banker, discomfort in our current place, exhaustion from the search itself, willful blindness to some of the condo's major problems, ignorance about renovating, and excitement that we were finally in a position to negotiate for a property in our neighborhood instead of being simply outbid as we'd been so many times before.

But we have only ourselves to blame, and we hope we are wiser now. We know we need to be in love with our next place despite examining every nook and cranny with our eyes wide open this time. We know, now, that any renovations will have to be carefully considered and priced before we sign anything. We know we don't want to pay a price beyond our comfort zone unless the place is so perfect that it needs absolutely nothing besides paint, and maybe not even then.

Since our tastes and needs are quite different from the vast majority of homebuyers, and since most properties are renovated to their tastes rather than ours, we are in a tough position. But we've gotten used to it.

We have begun house-hunting again, just dipping our toes in, casually visiting open houses that look interesting. When we see a listing with more original charm than "updating," that doesn't have the obligatory "open floorplan" with kitchen, living room, and dining room all mooshed together, and if it doesn't have more bathrooms than bedrooms, we are interested.

That led us to an open house for a not-too-big Queen Anne with original woodwork on Robinwood Avenue in Jamaica Plain.


Photos: Colleen Scanlan, McCormack & Scanlan LLC

We once lived in JP; we do not love JP. We have had too many "experiences" on the 39 bus, for one thing. But the few photos in the listing were enticing, and we can't afford a whole house in very many city neighborhoods. When we got there, we quickly realized why there weren't many photos; the place is a neglected mess. After all these years of house-hunting, it came as no surprise. But occasionally we've been pleasantly surprised by what realtors chose to hide — we like old-fashioned, remember. So we always look. (One can't call the realtor and ask, "So, is the rest of the place, which you didn't photograph, a wreck?" Or maybe one could, but I can't...)

It was fun to revisit JP briefly, especially since it was after lunchtime and we were starved. At the corner of Robinwood and Centre is the Robinwood Cafe, a friendly place that serves breakfast all day. (They don't have a working website.) I recommend their customizable "Centre Street" breakfast, which is about $8.95. Ours came with two scrambled eggs, three delicious sausages, a mountain of tasty home fries, and two blueberry pancakes as big as our heads.

It was good enough to make us reconsider the house as we waddled to the bus stop in a freezing wind.

We always survey all the other houses on the way to an open house and it's customary for me to say to my husband, "Look! Buy me that one! No, wait! Buy me this one!" as we pass lovely Victorians on our way to the dingiest, most pathetic dump on the street. That happened this time, too. So imagine my surprise when the house I liked the most went on the market the following week. I recognized it instantly because we'd called it "The Chicken House."

Stay tuned for photos in my next post. We haven't visited yet. But it's quite something.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Connie's Latest Crop of Kittens

We had a kitten craving so we drove to Maine on Saturday to visit Connie, of Tails from the Foster Kittens, and meet the current occupants of her kitten room. The last time we'd visited was Thanksgiving weekend, and we'd had a little accident as we drove home. So we kept a sharp lookout along the way and managed not to hit Christmas trees lying in the road this time.


Show me any kitten on her back and I am done for. This is Sprite. 

Connie has two fluffy female kittens: Wryn, a shy gray tabby, and Sprite, a frosted black, otherworldly creature. She also has their beautiful mama, Lemonade, who purrs up a storm and is sweet and affectionate, with giant, sturdy paws. She reminds us of our Toffeepot — wild-looking, with striking tabby markings and big tufts of fur in her ears. (She has a much louder purr.) Judging from the length of the fine silky guard hairs sticking out all over her, she she ought to have a longer, heavier Maine Coon-type coat, and perhaps she will someday when she's fully grown. She's not much older than her kittens and loves to play and run around.

All three are sweet, gentle, and playful, and need to be adopted into wonderful homes. As adorable as the babies are, it's their mama who stole our hearts.

My photos of Lemonade didn't come out as well as some of the kitten pictures (and even when I got a good shot it's often "watercolor-y') but here are the best of the bunch:


This is Wryn. Already gorgeous and will look like her mother when she's grown.

 See? Sprite is the perfect name for this little one.

Both kittens know how to rock a basket.




This is Lemonade. Look at those furry ears and that intelligent face.




This is Happy Bear, a cat-blog celebrity. Happy Bear is happiest when there's a kitten on him.


Yes, we would have liked to take this one home.





If you're in the market for a perfect kitten or cat, you may have met your match. See more of them and contact Connie via her blog if you're interested.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Catching Up

It takes days for my photos to load onto this laptop from my phone, and so I can't keep you up to date on local news. Last night about 70 photos finally loaded, so I have some catching up to do. But before I show you my friend Connie's current crop of foster kittens and their mother, or a few other things, I need to show you What Didn't Happen Last Night.

We were making our preparations before settling in to watch Downton Abbey — both the repeat of last week's show and the second-to-last episode at 9 pm. My husband made popcorn for himself. I was having milk and cookies.

I heard this before I went in to see what it was:

 Nom, nom, nom

At this point, my husband and I were alternating between chastising Possum 
and saying, "This never happened." So what if some of the popcorn is soggy?

He was feeling a little defensive at this point.
No one had told him NOT to eat the popcorns, after all. And they were there.

I agree with Possum that milk and popcorn (he insists on calling them "popcorns") don't go that well together. It was kind of him not to stick his nose in my glass.

By the time I took these final photos below, he knew the jig was up and was already plotting his next attack on the popcorn bowl, when it was in front of the TV.


Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Big Old Kitten

Get your cats in the habit of a daily playtime session or two (even several times a week seems to work) and you will have playful adult cats. I've been doing this with Harris, Toffee, and Lion since they arrived, and they are still eager to run around and play every day. (Possum, on the other hand, practices only one of his hunting skills with me: the one where he opens an eye to consider the toy that fortuitously landed on his paw. And Wendy thinks I am Going to Kill Her if I send a toy on a string in her direction.)


Harris likes to play so much that almost every morning he goes onto my desk (which I cleaned up dramatically over the weekend) and knocks things around until I get out his laser pointer.



Lion is the sharpest, quickest, most athletic hunter. Toffee has interesting tactics: he chirps at his prey. I wonder if any mouse, bird, or bug has ever been persuaded by cat talk to succumb? But Harris is the most fun to watch because he has no more dignity than a kitten, skidding across the carpet and rolling around with his big feet in the air and his oversized fangs snapping.

Monday, February 15, 2016

The Gang's All Here

I'm interrupting the cookware sage because: cats!


Four cats hanging out together is a common sight around here but we rarely get a photo opp with all five. This happened the other night. We could really use another sofa for the humans.

Wendy doesn't often hang out with all four of the boys and she likes to make a big show of fleeing from her cozy spot if I walk into the room. On this particular night, I think she was very sleepy. (But when we're eating lunch or dinner, she will come sit on the table about a foot from me. She will Risk Death for food.)

We often find everyone but Lion dozing on the bed. Wendy will vanish as soon as I appear. Everyone else comes as goes as we settle in for the night. And Lion usually arrives later, when I'm under the covers and I ask him to visit and make biscuits.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

New Cookware: A Saga, Part 2 — Research

The outcasts (not including the roasting rack; I'm too lazy to find a spot for it).

A couple of weeks ago, after we sold the new condo, I decided that my reward for NOT moving would be new cookware. Six years of waiting and possibly poisoning ourselves with worn Teflon was too long. I was happy to have the distraction.

I took stock and decided to begin by replacing the pieces I'd used most, which fit so nicely in the drawer: my small frying pan, 1-1/2 and 2-1/2 quart saucepans, and the 4-quart rounded pot that holds mac-and-cheese and other large recipes I make when I am tense, because it's strangely calming to make too much food. There's also a 10" "everyday" pan with a glass lid and short handles, which serves as a second skillet and small casserole. In tight spaces (including a 24" cooktop) short handles are great. We also have cheap 1- and 3-quart steel saucepans from my husband's bachelor days that are all I've been using lately, even though I planned to get rid of them when our wedding cookware arrived in 1997. Now I'm ready to let them go.

I do have a few other good items I use regularly and store in cabinets, including my Le Creuset Dutch oven, which is too big for much besides soups, and a 4-quart steel pot for cooking pasta (the steamer insert drains a pound of it perfectly).

I had three Williams-Sonoma gift cards I'd received from my brother over the past few Christmases. I went there, and to Sur la Table, and to Kitchenwares, and looked around and lifted pans. I got confused; I went home. This was going to be complicated. There's a ton of stainless steel cookware out there in every price range. I regard all of it as "stick" cookware. It mostly looks and feels the same to me, and I see it all, in my mind's eye, coated with burned-on eggs, cheese, and so on, soaking in my sink overnight.

There's copper cookware, of course. It always looks so lovely and it reminds me of happy hours spent browsing in Dehillerin in Paris. It is supposed to heat like a dream, but plenty of good stainless cookware has a copper core. And copper cookware is lined with steel (rather than tin) if it's any good, so you might as well just get stainless if you ask me. Because you never, ever have to polish steel. I love to polish silver but I hate to polish copper. And there is nothing more depressing than tarnished copper cookware sitting around, making the entire kitchen seem dirty and unloved. So copper is right out.

Lots of cookware has big, stupid wooden or synthetic handles that can't go into the oven. Most of the best-quality cookware has metal lids so we can't see what we're burning. Lids are a storage issue in my kitchen. (I seldom use them, but if I threw them out I'd immediately have some reason to need them.) They have to tuck away neatly in my drawer, so they can't have tall knobs or handles that will jam it.

Then there's cast-iron, enameled and plain, which weighs a ton and either costs a fortune or is almost irresistibly cheap. The cheap stuff requires seasoning and fussing, at least in the beginning, so I prefer expensive enameled, of course, but then I'd need to commit to a color, and I have too many decisions already. And cast-iron takes a while to heat up and you know me, I'm impatient and I graduated from the I Can't Be Bothered School of Cooking.

There are many new brands of cookware with high-tech ceramic nonstick coatings that are supposed to be completely safe, unlike the old Teflon-y stuff. But they still wear out pretty fast, or so I've heard. And the better ones are expensive. There are also very cheap ceramic pans. But they're, you know, cheap.

I decided it was time to go all Julia Child and learn to cook in safe, traditional, metal pans, with lots of oil and butter, and techniques and temperatures to keep food from sticking. But there always has to be a nonstick frying pan around for my husband to use and abuse. Cheap ceramic, here I come.

I decided I never wanted to go through the trouble of cookware shopping again so I was going to get the very best basic pots and pans I could afford. I would get a few superb saucepans so I never had to think about saucepans again. I also wanted one wonderful frying pan that would work for everything from omelets to searing meat. I wanted a crèpe pan because I've always wanted one and didn't want to wait any longer. And I needed a tallish 4-quart pan with curved sides for my special macaroni-and-cheese, which starts as a roux and then becomes a Béchamel and a Mornay, with lots of stirring.

I kept visiting stores and talking to salespeople, and began researching online. I read cooking sites, retail sites, and Chowhound.com. I liked reading chef's blogs, where, for some reason, they test and discuss the merits and failings of consumer cookware, which is never used in professional kitchens. They predictably ragged on anything with a coating, preferring stainless and iron. They vastly prefer European cookware to anything made anywhere else, including America.

I kept looking and learning — about layers of aluminum, copper, and even silver inside stainless steel, and about different (less-sticky) finishes for the steel interiors and exteriors, and how some of the most expensive steel cookware still has handles that get hot. I knew I would find that irritating; all of that All-Clad stuff was out.

I spent part of a morning filling all of my pots with water to determine precisely how much they held.* A 3-quart saucepan holds 3 quarts when filled to the brim. That's how it generally works. Now I know that if I'm making 2 quarts of soup, I need a 3-quart pan. Then I measured heights and diameters so I could choose new items that fit in the drawer.

I nosed around in my kitchen's darkest corners and found more cookware hidden away. I realized that even my 8-quart stockpot is nonstick. Stockpots don't need to be fancy or expensive. I hope to find a deal on a stainless model with a strainer insert. That will save me hours of messy, boring straining by hand when I make stock. And that means I'll make stock more often.

I found my rusty, 12" cast-iron Lodge skillet. I'd begun seasoning it but gave up because I hated lifting it and worried it would scratch our glass cooktop. Plus it's huge; I have to store it in such a cramped, crazy spot that it's too much work to get to it. I'm not sure about keeping it. I might use it if we ever moved but in the meantime there's no good place for it.

Tucked up high in a cabinet, I found a replacement for my Teflon "everyday pan." It's an enamel-on-steel, 2-1/2 quart Chantal casserole, with compact handles and a glass lid. It's cobalt-blue and cute. It was a wedding gift that I put away because it didn't double as a nonstick skillet like my other pan and it never fit in the drawer. Chantal hasn't made anything like it for years and I don't want to know why. But it works on the stove and in the oven, and is a good size for pasta dishes when I am not stressed and feel like cooking for two rather than eight.


My "new" old Chantal casserole. 

The bad news is that it's now taking the place of my roasting rack in another storage cabinet. So I have to find a place for the rack. And it's Teflon.

As you saw in the photo above, I piled all the cookware to be jettisoned on the counter as an incentive to hurry the buying process along. Then I began scouting for deals and placing orders. My shopping is coming along, and I will report on that next. The pile of discards is still sitting there tonight, however, and it's very much in the way. It's annoying the hell out of us, in fact. (And we've also been having a Simplex Tea Kettle Situation since before Christmas that still isn't resolved, either, so we have had THREE tea kettles on the stove. For months. I will tell you that sorry tale later.)

The Teflon, at least, might go away tomorrow.

Part 3 will describe what I bought, and how I like it so far.



* As I did this, I got the feeling that at least one of the Sabines was around and getting a big kick out of it. I kept going. It's my house too; I don't mind entertaining them, and I'm not going to be inhibited if I want to do stupid things.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

New Cookware: A Saga, Part 1 — The Problem

When we began house-hunting several years ago I promised myself that, when we moved, I'd replace our wedding cookware from 1997. It's mostly Calphalon hard-anodized aluminum with a Teflon coating on everything from the saucepans to the stockpot. For years I've known what everybody who cooks knows — that Teflon contains toxic chemicals that can be released by using high heat or when the surface is scratched or worn. Our set is worn and scratched and was often used at high heat back when I was younger, and even lazier and more ignorant about cooking than I am now. (My husband is still one or two of those things; I won't say which.)

Our cookware is also in poor shape because my husband likes to take hot pans off the stove and run cold water on them in the sink. For 20 years, I've been the primary cook and he's been the primary dishwasher, and I've been exclaiming in horror and lecturing him every time I see him do it. I have explained the science of it, used phrases like "shocking the pan," and tried forbidding him to do it. I've pretty much gotten nowhere on changing this behavior, which I gather he learned from his mother at an impressionable age. He says it is easier to clean them this way. I say, "But they are nonstick! When are they HARD to clean?"

I replaced our frying pans a few years ago because they were in such scary shape. (One is just newer Teflon and already needs replacing.) But I kept waiting to replace everything else because I didn't want to deal with the problem of where to put it. Our kitchen is tiny but surprisingly efficient: I am willing to bet that our designer/builder friend, Jay, measured most of our stuff to make sure it would fit. I know he took stock of my antique silver collection (which has grown since he saw it in 1998) when he designed the flatware drawer. I know we made him aware of our Diet Coke habit back then, because we have a cabinet that fits seven  2-liter soda bottles perfectly, on their sides. (He was quite health-conscious for 1998 and never drank soda. He hoped we'd give it up and provided extra shelves just in case. We began using them and drinking water 15 years later.)

I think Jay also made sure that my cookware would fit perfectly in one deep drawer, carefully stacked and arranged, with foam rounds to prevent scratches.  There's only one way to put everything back; otherwise the drawer won't close. Finding the right spots for all the lids is always challenging.

I kept assuming we'd be moving to a bigger kitchen with, maybe, two drawers to hold cookware. I didn't want the nightmare of buying new stuff that I'd have to arrange in that drawer like a puzzle. Pots with even slightly different lids and handles probably wouldn't fit.

So for six years we didn't move, and the cookware kept getting worse and kept worrying me. I finally realized a couple of months ago that I've been cooking less and less in recent years because I am afraid of most of my cookware.

I doubt there's a medical name for fear of cookware. (Farberphobia?) I resolved to confront the problem and solve it. One shouldn't go through life avoiding one's Teflon (although there is certainly something to be said for weekly burritos and other non-cooking habits). But there should be more for dinner than salad and whatever can be heated in the oven and two old stainless pots.

I bowed to the inevitable. It was time to do what I do rather well: Go Shopping.  (To be continued)

Thursday, February 11, 2016

And We're Back...

My laptop is home from the Apple Garage, or whatever they call the place where they send devices to be fixed. I had to replace the hard drive in December, but that didn't solve another, longstanding problem, which was spontaneous crashing, sometimes several times a day. It was still under the 90-day warranty for the hard drive, so this repair (logic board replacement) was free. And it came with a  new 90-day warranty on the whole computer. That's great because it's more than five years old, and that's pushing into geriatric territory, at least according to the Apple Geniuses. I hope to get another year or two out of it, anyway.
I am well protected by Apple these days. Last week, I had my phone's screen replaced since I'd cracked it somehow. We'd forgotten that we'd purchased two years of AppleCare coverage with our new phones in the fall of 2014. But when I typed the serial number into their system, it was still covered. So that was a free repair, too.

In other news: Toffee. He can be such an elegant, dignified cat. . . until he's not. And last night, he was proudly showing off his sneakers.