I have a corned beef in the oven, rubbed mostly all over with black pepper, coriander, and paprika. It's perched on a rack over a 13 x 9 inch pan of water and will, in around 3-4 hours, be magically transformed into pastrami.
I wasn't planning on giving it a smoky flavor, but the drippings from a whole roasted squash recently have had other ideas. I've got windows open despite the wintery temperatures in an effort to get MOST of the smoke out of the house. My eyes are stinging slightly.
We have a new member of the family. But before he joined us, we lost my Dad's cat, Audrey, to breast cancer. I'd never thought of cats having breast cancer, but what do you know. It's very aggressive in cats – apparently dogs respond better to treatment – and so with a lot of second guessing and guilt and sadness, I had Audrey euthanized earlier this month. She had two good years with us, almost a full year with my Dad before that, so I should feel good about that, but still, it's never an easy decision.
A week or so after that horrible evening Julia told me that Bill had been looking at Scratchy and said to her (Julia) that he thought Scratchy looked bored. Now, Audrey and Scratchy weren't off on daily adventures, and Scratchy has always been a pretty sedentary cat even before Audrey came along to boss him around, but they did have moments of play – or battle – that must have kept things interesting for him. Without Audrey there was no one to argue over whose turn it is to hang out in that empty box in the living room. Or…well, that's pretty much where their play time and battles happened.
A day or so later Bill said the same "Scratchy looks bored" thing to me, and Julia and I decided that Bill thought Scratchy needed a companion but was too…something…to come right out and say it, so "bored" was a hint. I spent a morning looking at pet adoption sites. And I decided (because I am the authority on cats in this house) that Scratchy would do better with a kitten than with another adult cat. When I brought Audrey home, Scratchy fled to the basement for three months until he got brave enough to venture back into the rest of the house WHERE THAT SCARY NEW CAT was living. The scary new cat who was less than half his size physically, but triple his size in self confidence. I didn't want Scratchy to feel displaced again. So – a kitten. I checked in with a lot of animal shelters in our area, and showed Julia pictures of adorable little kitten faces, and saw, sometimes, that there were SIBLING kittens that would, ideally, be adopted TOGETHER, and I was extremely tempted by the thought of two little kittens chasing each other around the house.
Again, I didn't want Scratchy to feel overwhelmed. And it was within the realm of possibility that two kittens would be too many for him.
We ended up adopting a little ten week old foster kitten by someone who knows someone who my therapist knows. He is all black with just a few white hairs near his throat. He is friendly, loving, purrs like a tiny jackhammer, and adores Scratchy. Within three days of their first face to face meeting, Scratchy accepted the kitten as an annoying but not intimidating member of the clan.
(And because I am in a sharing mood, I ask you how is it possible to suddenly split the backside of a pair of pants that are TOO BIG? I got up from my chair to shut the windows just now because the smoke has cleared out and UPS just dropped off two boxes and as I stood up my pants split. I don't understand that in the least. But there you go, a little glimpse into my world today.)
Oh, and by the way, Bill said "Scratchy looks bored" meant nothing more than "Scratchy looks bored," and after several days of feeling too much peer pressure and not wanting to give in to the evils of kitten adoption, he caved. And tells us all that the kitten loves him best. Naming the kitten – his foster human had given him a name, but we wanted to do our own naming, and really, he's a cat, he will answer if he feels like it, no matter what we call him – so anyway, after many name suggestions on which all four of us could never agree, I suggested to the kids that we let Bill name him, because we have all named one or more of all the other pets, and Bill hasn't named any. Unless he's secretly named the assorted fish in his tank.
I was going to post a picture of him just now, but I have a new laptop and for some as yet unknown reason I can't insert photos just yet. I'll put a couple pictures on my Facebook page later.
Anyway, at this point, a couple weeks into the adoption, Scratchy and Otis are getting along well. As I type, they are both sleeping on the big tan chair in the living room. Otis, when awake, can be very pesky and annoying, just like a younger sibling, and Scratchy is tolerant up to a point, and when he passes that point he'll thump Otis on the head with a soft but solid paw and hiss, and follow that up by licking Otis vigorously in the same spot. Kind of stern discipline followed by a hug. Mostly, there is peace.
And I don't think anyone could say Scratchy looks bored.
That's it for my first post in a really, really long time.
I've missed you.