Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Dinner 2010 - The Results

The dinner outlined in Christmas Dinner 2010 (Proposed Menu) was a mostly successful, but there were a few lessons to be learned. The big win was the Shrimp Cocktail. The disappointment was the Creamed Onions.

Shrimp Cocktail

This dish was improvised. I wanted it to be a cross between gazpacho and a regular shrimp cocktail. Here's what I went with:

14 oz. crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup seafood sauce
1 medium cucumber, finely diced
Tabasco sauce to taste
1/4 green pepper, finely shredded
1/4 sweet onion, finely shredded
14 oz. cut wax beans
1/2 c. lime juice
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 t. oregano
salt, black pepper to taste
lime wedges

I shredded the green pepper and onion in a food processor until it was a pulp. I combined all but the last two ingredients and let it sit in the fridge for several hours. To serve, I put about 6 shrimp in a goblet, spooned sauce over it, and garnished with a lime wedge. Very delicious and attractive! Next time, I will probably add some prepared horseradish.

Salmon Croquettes 

The croquettes were quite good. Given the ingredients and the fact that they were fried and crispy, they could hardly help but be a win.

Scalloped Potatoes

These were absolutely delicious, but I wasn't prepared for the quantity the recipe yielded. I now have a lasagna tray with approximately one-point-four metric tons of delicious comfort food in the fridge. Guess what I'll be having with every supper for the foreseeable future?

Creamed Onions

I overcooked these--it turned out more like a sauce than anything else. I spooned a bit over the salmon croquettes. I expected the cooked onions to be mild, but they had an almost dessert-like sweetness. If I make this again, I'll cook it more gently and I'll add something hot or spicy to offset the sweetness.

Green Bean Casserole

This was very good. I think the stuffing was what really made it a win. I baked it in a lasagna pan, but I probably should have used a souffle dish.

The Dinner

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Dinner 2010 (Proposed Menu)

There's No Tradition Like a New Tradition

As per my new holiday tradition, I've foregone giving and receiving gifts. The money I saved has gone to Habitat for Humanity and the American Cancer Society. I'll be spending Christmas day in blissful solitude. I'll spend the evening in the kitchen preparing a special holiday meal. Since I cook turkey for Thanksgiving, I'm usually in a mood for non-poultry on Christmas. This year, I'm thinking about cooking myself a "pot luck" dinner of sorts.

Shrimp Cocktail

Doesn't this look fun? As an appetizer, I often have a few shrimp with cocktail sauce, but this kind of cocktail looks much more festive. I'll just combine shelled shrimp, tomato salsa, cocktail sauce, Tabasco sauce, and use lime wedges as garnish. It'll be kind of a cross between gazpacho and shrimp cocktail. I need to buy a couple of parfait glasses.

Salmon Croquettes

I'm not totally committed to Salmon Croquettes, but I'm leaning in this direction. The alternative I'm considering is Tuna Casserole. A casserole would be more in keeping with the "pot luck" theme, I suppose. The croquettes are similar to the salmon burgers I frequently make, but they're smaller, meatier, and crunchier. I would normally top them with a Bearnaise Sauce (from a packet!), but my proposed side dishes are so saucy I might skip it.

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes are my idea of comfort food! The inclusion of sour cream would make the dish extra yummy. Yes, the recipe calls for Velveeta cheese rather than shredded Cheddar, but Cheddar can separate into oil and solids when baked, whereas Velveeta retains a smooth texture.

Creamed Onions

This will be a new dish for me. My grocery store has sweet onions all year long now, and Creamed Onions should be a great way to show off their mild taste.

Green Bean Casserole

No pot luck dinner would be worthy of its name unless there was a Green Bean Casserole. I avoid recipes that call for canned condensed soup and this one contains no such ingredient. I like the fact that it calls for prepared stuffing--I've never tried it in a vegetable casserole, but it sounds good.

Ready For The Holidays!

So, now that I've made myself thoroughly hungry, I'm ready for my end-of-year vacation week!

I'm sure you noticed that my menu doesn't include a dessert. That's because I don't have much of a sweet tooth. The closest I'm likely to get to dessert might be chocolate and brandy. I don't indulge in chocolate often, but if I'm not too stuffed, I may have a few pieces on Christmas.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ice Storms

I woke up this morning to the specter of a treacherous commute after an ice storm. This was not unexpected--I'd heard the weather forecast and taken the precaution of sprinkling some brine and salt on the walkway to my driveway. There was only a quarter inch of ice. The roads had been salted and were mostly clear. My driveway and car were another story, though.

Conditions were perfectly bad. The temperature was 32 F., so that quarter inch of ice was wet and slippery. It wasn't possible to stand upright unless your feet were up against something--a tire, for instance. After warming up the car, its icy coating only had to be scored and nudged to clear it away. Exiting the driveway included a few seconds of uncontrolled sliding, but I did make it out and got downtown without too much trouble.

The sidewalks! If they hadn't been treated, again, it was impossible to stand on them, much less walk on them. I had to walk in the street for part of my way from parking lot to office.

This kind of weather brings back bad memories of the major ice storm in late January, 2009. I didn't lose any trees, but the 2 inches of ice cracked off many large limbs, including all limbs on the north side of one of my pines. I wasn't able to break out of my driveway due to the large ridge of ice created by street plows. I was without heat and power for 3 days. The temperature in the house got down to the low 40s. Multiple layers of clothes, multiple blankets, a cap and gloves helped, but I was still darned cold! I lived on chips and salsa. The only candle I could find was inside a plastic Jack-o-Lantern. Fortunately, my iPod had a good charge, so I was able to listen to music while huddled up in bed. The cats lived under the covers, too. They were just as cold as I was. If I'd been able to have coffee, I'd have been a little less miserable, but everything was cold and lifeless. Twenty-four people in Kentucky died in that storm.

This time around, it looks like there won't be a thaw until Monday. I hope I'm able to get to my guitar lesson on Saturday since the following two Saturdays are holidays.

I've scoped out a mostly ice-free path back to my car. I'll leave here in about 45 minutes. I'm mainly concerned about making it up my driveway without getting stuck or sliding into the drainage depression.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010



An Al Qaida terrorist linchpin puts up a web site called Using this site, he gives explicit, last minute instructions to on-the-ground terrorists who manage to destroy many beloved American sites including the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, the Mt. Rushmore sculptures, the Space Needle in Seattle, and Churchill Downs in Kentucky. Thanks to a daring Special Forces operation, this linchpin is captured and returned to the United States be be tried. As he's being escorted to the courtroom, he tells his lawyer, "Say I'm a journalist. Say my terrorist web site was a blog." The lawyer nods and, before the judge, he decries this "blatant affront to freedom of speech". Tens of thousands of people worldwide protest the horrific repression by the U.S. government.

Bowing to international pressure, the prosecutors drop the case and release a statement saying, "We were wrong. We deeply regret any inconvenience we have caused for the former defendant." A circuit court awards the Al Qaida terrorist $5 million in compensation.

Justice? Travesty? "What do you think?" (Thank you, Centron Films.)

Lost in the World

Okay, I think I have to admit that I'm addicted to World of Warcraft. This is odd given that I stayed away from it completely for a couple of months after learning the basics. I suppose I felt a little intimidated by not knowing that much about how to play and I had no clue about the norms of social interaction. I stuck to playing "Dragon Age". After 3 times through DA, though, I was ready for a change.

I created a Paladin (or "Palindrome", as I like to call him) named Biroc. I jumped into the World and just started messing around. I became more comfortable with right and left mouse clicks. I got my Nostromo controller programmed enough to help me play. I lost my fear of being killed! This was important because, if you're going to play WoW--especially solo--you've got to expect to die many times. My Pally is up to level 31 now. He's a mean mix of melee fighter and healer. That makes him well-suited for both solo and team play.

Next, I started developing my first character: "Megarid", a hunter. I acquired a Nightsaber as a pet, learned to use sequences of bow attacks to kill at a distance, and acquired 4 different tigers as mounts. My Nightsaber, "Scarlette", is up to level 20 now and I'm on the lookout for a second pet.

Recently, I created a third character: "Diabolik", a rogue. This character is fun, but she's a little tricky to play. Some of her moves have preconditions. For example, she can ambush, but only while in stealth mode. She can deal finishing blows, but only after preparatory strikes. She's up to level 14 now, I think.

The social aspect of the game still confuses me. On a number of occasions, another player has asked for my assistance to complete a quest. When asked, I say yes, and this has mostly turned out well. Sometimes, though, my temporary partner is crabby and critical and leaves without saying "thanks" when the quest is over. At other times, he or she has turned out to be a much younger person than I'd prefer to team up with.

And then there's the 24-hour party going on in Goldshire. As a young character, you are obliged to spend time in Goldshire, so the mob in the middle of town is impossible to miss. Apparently these folks prefer dueling to questing. Nothing wrong with that, but personally, I get tired of politely refusing challenges to duel. I also wish there were a way to flag your character as not being interested in joining a Guild. Again, it's not a big deal, but every time I'm invited to a Guild, I have to stop and type a "no thanks" message to the other player.

I just ordered two expansion packs from Amazon: "The Burning Crusade" and "Wrath of the Lich King". These should keep me very busy for the next 6 to 9 months. Then I'll pick up "Cataclysm", which was just released yesterday.

If I'm not tweeting as much in the evenings, now you know why. :)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Cinematic Titanic, St. Louis, 2010-11-13

Dear Tracy,

So, yeah, I still have not written that blog entry about the St. Louis trip. Let me hit some of the high points.

This was the most incredibly wild and fun tweet-up to date! The wonderful luxury of having a new car with a great navi system helped me immensely toward being relaxed. I even drove Anastasia, Tony, and Dawn to dinner and the show--and I was not freaked out about driving in an unfamiliar city!

We had dinner at a place called Lewis and Clark's in St. Charles. The city of St. Charles is very rustic and trendy. Many of the roads are cobblestone. It reminded me of the French Quarter. We passed the entrance to the restaurant's parking lot the first time so we had to circle around. I couldn't turn at the first street because there were a bride and groom standing in the middle of the road having their picture taken. Driving on, half of the road was blocked by a van from which a band was unloading sound equipment.

The restaurant was three stories tall, and the poor waitresses had to carry huge trays of food up the stairs. I ordered a steamed vegetable platter. It was good, but not remarkable. The veggies were just barely heated and a little too tough. They were served on a bed of tasty Spanish rice and were topped with melted mozzarella. I had a bad case of social anxiety during that meal. I just felt kind of thrust into the middle of the action without adequate time to adjust.

We arrived at the Family Arena exactly at the moment that Josh Weinstein took the stage. Josh did an excellent impression of Elvis Costello playing and singing "Accidents Will Happen". Frank did a stand-up comedy routine. Trace read from his new book of children's poems. Joel did some magic tricks and prop humor (including "juggling water"). The movie was "Rattlers"--a sort of 1950's "monsters created by technology gone wrong" movie that took place in the 1970's. When a movie starts out with two pre-teen boys falling into a pit of rattlers and dying, you know you've latched onto a very cheesy flick.

Nit-picky complaint: the seats at the arena were interlocked and way too close to one another. Tony figured out how to detach them, so he and Anastasia had a few inches more room. I thought I'd be okay, but the guy to my left kept inching into my space until I thought I was going to die. Okay, end bitch mode.

After the show, we stood in line for autographs. I bought an 8x10 of the CT crew in silhouette with plenty of room for autographs. Just to the side of the celebrity table there was a hand sanitizer dispenser! Great idea! With all the hand-shaking those guys do, they don't need to be picking up germs from their adoring throng. And I never know what to say to them. I adore them for their creativity and humor. I adore them for giving my life a center of focus. But, you know... what do you say?

After the show, most of us met at the lobby bar at the Doubletree Hotel. I paid $6.50 for an average margarita. According to the plan, we all moved the party upstairs to my room. Several of us had brought rum, vodka, wine, Coke, glasses, straws, and peanuts. The party was majorly fun! It lasted until 5:00 AM. I got to spend a lot of time with some previously un-met tweeps. It was absolutely one of the high points of my life. It made me so glad I was a MSTie!

My two new bestest friends, Laura and Amy
 Thanks to my face-hugger (CPAP machine), I got a pretty decent night of sleep, even though it was only 4 or 5 hours. As per our plan, we went to Gingham's Homestyle Restaurant for a late breakfast. I got a Ranchero Omelette, hash browns, whole wheat toast, coffee, and orange juice. It was yummy! And they absolutely made sure that I had a pot of hot coffee beside me at all times so I could pour my own refills.

After breakfast, we said our sad, final goodbyes in the parking lot. Anastasia and I were staying on for a second night, so we drove back to the hotel. My energy level was going downhill rapidly, so I begged off to take a nap. I lay in bed for a while, but the "nap" thing didn't happen. After 6 cups of coffee--imagine that!

At about 4:00 PM, Anastasia and I met in the lobby to scope out the rest of the day. Since it was Sunday, many attractions were closing early. We decided to visit the Gateway Arch and ride to the top. Anastasia had visited the arch the previous day but had not gone up. I hadn't been to the arch at all, so I was very grateful she was willing to revisit this landmark for my benefit. When we arrived, Holy Cow! Another wedding party! The bride and groom were posing for pictures as an unrelated group of tourists shouted "Don't do it!".

After the trip to the top and much snapping of photos, we searched for a nearby restaurant. We did this the old fashioned way by thumbing through a magazine with restaurant listings. I've since realized that I have an application on my Droid X that uses GPS and its own database to pop up a list of nearby restaurants. (I love my Droid X.) At any rate, we decided to visit the Morgan Street Brewery. I had a very nice salmon sandwich with "coniques" (deep friend balls of mashed potatoes) and a large glass of house-made Irish stout.

Since I was still very low on energy, we called it an early night after dinner. I slept off and on and frequently grabbed my phone to check tweets. I awoke early and felt refreshed. Anastasia and I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant. I was on the road home before 10:00 AM. Again, my new Honda Fit was a luxury. I listened to Vetiver and Elvis Costello from my iPod through the car stereo. Sweet!

Needless to say, I can't wait until the next Cinematic Titanic tweet-up! CT is doing shows in the upper Midwest this winter (huh??) and I will probably choose to wait for warmer weather for my next trip. The good news is that I get 15 days of vacation in 2011!

Okay, I'm going to be a jerk and make this letter my blog entry about the CT show. Don't be hatin' on me.


Gypsy and Ginny Get "Fixed"

Yesterday morning, I took the kittens to the animal hospital to be spayed. I hate doing this to a young cat, but I know from prior experience that an intact female cat has a pretty miserable time when in heat. I've read that, if a kitten is spayed before going into heat for the first time, they're more likely to retain a kittenish outlook on life going forward.

In addition to the spaying, they were to have their ears cleaned, receive a second treatment for ear mites, be tested for ringworm, and Gypsy had an inflamed left eye. The ear cleaning went well and all of the ear mites had been killed by their first treatment and by the one treatment I gave them here at home. The animal shelter had had their kitten room quarantined for ringworm by my kittens were there. Just to be sure they were fungus-free, I had them tested. I may not know the results until sometime next week.

Gypsy's left eye was red, watering, and squinty when I returned home from the St. Louis Cinematic Titanic show. I was afraid that Lucy had scratched the eye. One of my first cats, TCAM, lost sight in one of her eyes as the result of an indoor cat scuffle. I'd hate to see that happen to Gypsy, especially at such a young age. As it turned out, she had a herpes-type virus infection. The vet told me that this may be a permanent condition--one that flares up occasionally all throughout her life. I'm giving her a medicinal paste, eye drops, and a liquid anti-biotic. The eye looks a little better, but it's by no means cleared up yet.

The vet also gave me some pain meds for the kittens to be given "as needed". When Ginny got home and out of the carrier, she was zipping around and playing as if nothing had happened. Gypsy was more subdued, but I didn't give her a pain pill yesterday. I did give her one this evening. That was probably a good move because a half hour later she was climbing my chest, purring, and asking for pets.

Overall, they came through very well. I was worried that they might just hide behind furniture and suffer in isolation. Next step will be removal of the stitches in about a week.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I've written 3,904 words so far toward the goal of 50,000 words in November. Will I make it? Bloody doubtful. But as long as my quest remains intact, this poor little blog is going to suffer.

Don't write me off. I'll be more speakative come about December 1st.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


National Novel Writing Month. Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Check out my so-called progress at I would need to produce 1,667 words per day. I skipped November 1 and spent the time developing an interesting premise. I began writing this evening and only managed to churn out 559 words.

I think the key to writing a 50K-word novel in one month is to totally suppress the inner urge to edit as you write. I don't know if I'll be able to do this, sustained, for 30 days. I need to convince myself that this is just a writing exercise--I am not producing my breakout novel!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Gypsy and Ginny Visit The Vet

My new kittehs, Gypsy and Ginny, had their first visit with the vet this morning. Turns out it's very difficult to take a Manx cat's temperature. Usually, you can lift the cat by the tail and insert the thermometer. With a Manx cat, there's nothing to hold onto!

All was normal with the girls, but they did have a lot of gunk in their ears plus ear mites. The vet cleaned their ears as well as he could, but I'm going to have to do two more cleanings at home and apply anti-mite drops once. Then they'll be due back at the vet for a checkup. In all probability, this will coincide with their appointment to be spayed. I really hate putting the girls through this, but it has to be done.

Meanwhile, Lucy has walked from the living room to the bedroom on her own volition! Once in the bedroom, she snuck under a blanket and napped. Unfortunately, Ginny pounced on the covered-up Lucy (which, let's face it, is what cats do in those circumstances).

No answer on Gypsy's persistent cough. Since she's not exhibiting any other cold-like symptoms and since her appetite is quite good, the vet advised me to take no action for the next couple of weeks.

I love my girls--all three of them--very much.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

RiffTrax Live Live!

Last Thursday evening, I had the great pleasure of attending the live performance of RiffTrax Live at the Belcourt Theater in Nashville, Tennessee. I'll save the story about the trip to Nashville for another post. For now, I'll pick up with Courtney and I standing in the parking lot of the Best Western Music Row. I gave her my parking permit to put on her dash then we left for the show in my nice, new Honda Fit.

The Belcourt Theater was 1.2 miles from the Best Western (thanks Mapquest!). As we drove slowly, looking for the theater, the line of people waiting to go in was impossible to miss. The Belcourt has a parking lot adjacent to the theater, but oops! It was taped off and occupied by 3 large, white trucks--one with a satellite dish--and a large white tent. This was apparently the RiffTrax uplink. The side road we had turned onto was narrow and all parking spots appeared to be taken. Anything that looked like a parking spot was actually the mouth of a driveway. Most fortunately, I did find a short spot (which fit my short car) near the end of the road.

Due to the low pressure front that had recently swept through the Midwest, Nashville was chilly. The low for the night was to be 39 F., but at 6:40 PM CST, it was still a pleasantly crisp walk back to the theater. The doors had opened at 6:30, so the long line had shortened considerably by the time we queued up.

The lobby of the Belcourt was very small. There was a confusion of lines: concessions, men's and women's rest rooms. I thought I was standing in a line to enter the theater, but it turned out I was just standing in the vicinity of the lines for concessions and the men's restroom. As I was trying to get my bearings, I spied @euphoriafish (Hi, Tracey!) It's always nice to meet a fellow MSTie! Once I realized we could just walk on into the theater, we did so and took a couple of seats in the middle, about 3/4 of the way back from the stage. The Belcourt is a small venue, so this gave us a perfect view.

The gentleman in this photo was affectionately called "Bald Spot" by the crowd. He did the mic checks and "read us the rules": pictures of us could be used by RiffTrax, turn off cell phones, don't record the show, and applaud loudly when appropriate! He had us yell, cheer, and clap so the guys in the sound truck could get a level reading. We made it loud!

This was my first time seeing Kevin, Mike, and Bill. When they walked onstage, it was a chill-worthy moment. Bill wore cat's ears, Mike wore a "Weird Al" wig and hippy shades, Kevin wore a rubber "Medusa" cap. I've got to say that watching a RiffTrax Live show via simulcast is very much like being there in person. Seeing the guys right there in front of me was awesome, but it also gave me an appreciation of the high quality of the simulcasts.

Both of the short features were hilarious and deeply disturbing. The first, Magical Disappearing Money, was about a witch-like woman who apparently lived inside a stacked display of grocery items at a supermarket. She stalked shoppers and disapproved of their food selections. At the peak of her disgust, she gave a demonstration (as if she were selling Ginsu knives) to the shoppers about how much money they were wasting buying such items as sugar-coated cereal, instant oatmeal, and frozen zucchini.

The second short was a detailed nightmare about the production of paper. A hapless child was set upon by hallucinations of a talking paper bag, very much in the vein of "Coily" from MST3K. If the voice of the bag had been less cheery, this could have been a depressingly accurate depiction of the onset of schizophrenia in a young boy.

The main feature, The House on Haunted Hill, has always been a favorite of mine. I loved Elisha Cook "the gunsel" in the too-big jacket in The Maltese Falcon. In Haunted Hill, the guys were constantly joking about his looking like a leprechaun (too true). Vincent Price is great, too. He's one of the few celebrities I've seen in person. I passed him on Fourth Street in Louisville one Derby Eve. He was tall and gaunt--but of course, you knew that! Richard Long suffered a head wound early on and, for the rest of the movie, he was pelted with riffs about being a bumbling idiot.

I can't wait for the DVD to come out! I understand that neither Courtney nor I made it into the broadcast. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Why I Hate Mark Zuckerberg

People used to hate "The Phone Company" even though they used telephones every day. Now people hate Facebook even though they use it every day.

Rather than list every reason that I hate Facebook, let me concentrate on just one: the concept of "identity".

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is fond of repeating the phrase, "You have one identity". Obviously, Mark Zuckerberg approaches human psychology from the viewpoint of marketing.

Everyone has multiple identities--everyone has multiple personalities. When you speak with your best friend, you exhibit an entirely different personality than when you speak with your parents. When you speak to your lover, you exhibit an entirely different personality than when you speak with your boss.

Mark Zuckerberg wants to maximize his profits. In the pursuit of this goal, he is trying to use the power of Facebook to twist us into something we are not. Branding every human on the planet with a unique, unalterable ID tag might be a marketer's wet dream, but it goes against the nature of being a human. If Mark Zuckerberg thinks his ratty little "Facebook" construct can remake humanity according to his own desires, he is biting on a particularly hard chunk of granite.

Mark Zuckerberg's tactics are insidious. When I first signed up for a Facebook account, I dutifully provided them with my real name assuming I'd have an opportunity to choose a "handle" or at least abbreviate my last name before activating my account. There was no such opportunity. And adding insult to injury, I learned that I had to submit an email request to Facebook staff if I wanted to change the name that was displayed to the public.

Don't get me started on how Mark Zuckerberg allows games such as "Farmville" to access your private information and forward it to advertisers and tracking agencies. Even if you've blocked the Farmville application, if you have a friend who plays Farmville, Facebook allows your private data to be sucked up and redistributed.

Facebook: Use, but verify.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Adoption: Moonlight and Marabella

When my ex-girlfriend moved out in 2005, she left me with the three cats she had acquired for us: Sara, Lucy, and Petra. Since that time, Petra has died of complications from diabetes and Sara has died from a rare cancer of a blood vessel. Lucy, bless her heart, is about 17 years old now and is in very good health. Since she'd been terrorized by Petra for most of her life, she has a skittish personality. Although she loves being cuddled at times, she is rather aloof. I guess I'd been spoiled by my dear Sara, who needed to be with me every waking and sleeping moment of the day.

I started toying with the idea of adopting another pair of cats. I say "pair" because I believe cats are happiest if they are living with a comfortable companion--a littermates would be ideal. I knew that Lucy appreciated having my full attention, but I also know she's exhibited a desire to cuddle with Sara and Petra, but she'd always been rejected. I thought she might adjust to the presence of a pair of tiny, non-aggressive kittens.

There is a no-kill animal shelter less than 1/4 mile from my house: Animal Care Society. My ex-girlfriend worked there for a while. Actually, Lucy was found shivering in the rain on the land near Animal Care. People frequently abandoned unwanted pets near Animal Care, assuming someone would rescue them.

The first time I stopped by Animal Care, they were not allowing visits with kittens because they'd had an outbreak of ringworm. They let me browse through a binder with listings of cats that people were offering for adoption. I leafed through it, but I really wanted to adopt directly from Animal Care. I knew they would be rigorous in performing veterinary tests and procedures for their animals. With an unknown 3rd party, I could not be sure about anything.

The lady at Animal Care told me to watch their web site for news about the re-opening of the kitten room. Yeah, right. They're good people, but they do not keep their web site up-to-date! I just dropped back by after a couple of weeks and was allowed to walk into the kitten room. I knelt down in the middle of the floor and was instantly swarmed by sweet, needy kittehs!

The kitten they called "Moonlight" jumped on my back and licked my neck and ears. The one they called "Marabella" sniffed me and accepted pets but then backed off and observed. Now that they've been with me for a few weeks, I can confirm that this was a very good indication of how they'd behave with me on an ongoing basis.

After seeing the kittens, I filled out an adoption form, which was not to be processed until I'd called them back to give them the go-ahead. I was a bit taken aback by the quantity and nature of the questions on the form. Most notably was the requirement to provide them with three personal references, one of which needed to be a family member. Great. I am happily estranged from my family, but I reluctantly gave them my father's name and telephone number. I somehow convinced myself that they would only actually call my vet. I was wrong. Apparently, they called everyone. Thankfully, they did approve my adoption request. One of my references, my boss, wrote me that he told them I was their "wet dream" of an adopter. Funny! And apparently effective!

I went to Animal Care the following Saturday with two cleaned-up carriers to pick up my new family members. From the get-go, the adoption was a comedy of errors. The woman ("handler"?) who processed my case was apparently a higher-up in the organization. Higher-ups are never as savvy about business operations as the "menials". There followed re-printing of medical forms and various signings. After 45 minutes of confusion and delay, I was ushered into the kitten room with my two carriers.

The handler shoved two cats into my carriers. I asked if she could tell me which cat was "Moonlight" and which was "Marabella". "Oh, you can name them anything you like," she said, but I insisted. She didn't know the cats by sight, but both had been micro-chipped (apparently a standard policy for cats about to be adopted). It's a very good thing I insisted, because she was trying to give me one of the kittens and the mother! Next, she tried to shove a long-tailed cat into the carrier the mother had been in. I was adopting two Manx kittens, so I questioned this. She re-scanned the long-tailed cat a
nd left the room to look up the ID. No, this was a different cat. Finally both of the Manx kittens were in my carriers and I exited the kitten room. As I exited, one of the "menials" took a close look at the two kittens and confirmed that I did, indeed, have "Moonlight" and "Marabella".

Here are the two kittehs in the back of my car as I'm about to leave Animal Care.

I've tentatively renamed "Moonlight" as Ginny and "Marabella" as Gypsy. They seem to be hugely content in their new home. Lucy has been hiding out in the living room ever since they arrived. She is doing less hissing and spitting now. Just today she allowed a quiet nose-touch with Ginny. I feel her pain, but I think this could be a plus for her in the long run. She's never had a housemate with whom she could cuddle. Once she realizes how non-threatening these two little girls are, she may actually have nap partners for those long, lazy afternoons.