Baking and bothersome cats

Let’s start with the cats, shall we?

It’s the holiday season. We have a new kitten. You can see where this is going right?

He’s only climbed into the tree once, thankfully. He knocks down just one ornament a day. Only two of them have broken so far. (Thank you, Crazy Glue.) He starts from the farthest point, runs super fast, and slides right into the base of the tree. So the gifts have been relocated. As has the tree skirt.

If only it were him, though. The 14-year-old really should know better. I moved the gifts to a bench in the corner and she keeps climbing all over them. And she and the other “adult” cat in our house have both started chewing – and swallowing – the decorative ribbon. Which is not meant to be chewed and swallowed. The stinkers.

Innocent? I think not.

The senior citizen climbs right up.

And then they tried to engage in a fight in the midst of the gifts.

He’s been pretty good.

And now to the baking…

For Thanksgiving we cooked up cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole, popovers and this pie, which I could have eaten by myself in a single sitting (so yummy!). I sadly have no photos of that pie. I don’t have many photos of that day because I was scrambling around so much that the camera was hardly touched. But it was good stuff!



The banana bread below looks good, doesn’t it? Well, I didn’t love it. It called for coconut oil, which I’ve been baking with a lot since the gluten-free change. But it came out kind of greasy. So I’m sharing the nice-looking photo and I shall pretend that I made the best banana bread ever.

These, on the other hand, did not fail. They, in fact, got the thumbs-up from my kiddo, who is slightly afraid of gluten-free baking. (Maybe because of things like the banana bread incident?) Truffle cookies with Kisses. Nom, nom, nom!DSC_4461 DSC_4458 DSC_4457

Mr. Big Feet


It’s kind of hard to see from these photos, but Nick Furry’s paws are enormous! They make me giggle. Maybe you can get a better perspective from this photo that was taken by his rescuers. He was at his first vet appointment and all tuckered out. And there’s that big ol’ foot in the bottom corner.


He’s getting bigger, but his paws seem to be too. Is he ever going to grow into them? I always judge the potential size of a puppy by the size of its paws. Is that not the same with kittens? If it is, this little bugger is going to be very, very big at some point. He’s already grown from 4.25 pounds in early August to almost 8 now.

He oozes the cuteness, too. I guess all kittens do, don’t they? But he’s constantly zipping around, pouncing on things, making adorable kitten noises and willingly allowing Devin to carry him everywhere.

In these photos Nick is paused in mid-sillyness while trying to attack the fronds of our freshly picked carrots. He succeeded in detaching one of them, but seemed happy enough to simply bat them around. All the world’s a toy!

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Here, leezard, leezard, leezard!

I figure there are just some things you do for your kids to make them happy. Right?

Because I don’t think I’d otherwise want to have this critter in my house.

She’s not horrible. (The neighbor kid, a bearded-dragon owner himself, informed us that Ryu Tatsu is a she. Not a he.) She’s just not very cuddly. And my living room now smells like lizard.

Ryu is the official classroom pet and Dev’s teacher was looking for some willing volunteers to take care of her over the summer. Knowing that we’d only have to host her for two weeks made the decision much easier.

Another point against the reptile? I  don’t think she likes me too much. She’s opened her mouth at me a couple of times, just shy of a hiss, as if I’ve done something offensive.* I share my carrots and grapes with her and that’s the thanks I get? Harrumph!

*I’ve since discovered that it’s not me that’s so offensive…it’s Juliette who follows around behind me to get a peek at the strange reptile in her living room. Apparently Ryu doesn’t like hairy beasts that are 10 x her size.

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Lean in


Do you notice how my dog is practically leaning over? (Yeah, the photo is a bit slanted too, but you know what I mean.)

She has no shame. She’ll beg for anything. If there’s food, Juliette is on it.

And in this case, it was something I’m sure she thought would be mighty tasty. Just outside of the shot there’s a 9-year-old kid eating an ooey-gooey concoction of marshmallow, chocolate and graham cracker. And she was magnetically attracted to it. Does she care that dogs aren’t supposed to eat chocolate? No, she does not.

In this final shot she is pouting because Dev has devoured the s’more and left her with nothing. And, of course, I’m pointing the camera at her. So there’s that too.


Perhaps the dog beach swan song


I hate seeing my pets grow old. I knew it was going to happen, of course, but it doesn’t make it easier. Maggie the cat is still pretty fairly spry, even at 14, but Juliette is showing the signs. Trouble on the stairs. A little less energy. Some grey on the muzzle.


But it was even more evident, to me, when we took her to the dog beach recently. She lurves the dog beach. We’ve been going for years. What’s more fun than watching your four-legged friend romp in the waves?

This time, even though she was so excited when we got there, her energy faded pretty quickly. She ended up doing more standing around than bounding around.

She’s also come to hate riding in cars. She trembles for half the trip. So getting her to Muskegon in the first place seemed fairly unkind (she may have forgiven us once she nabbed her doggie sundae at the Frosty Oasis, though).

She did get in some snout time with a dachshund friend. She also seemed interested in following some of the other people and dogs around. On the trip back, the trembling seemed to have abated. As close to relaxed as she’s likely to get in the car. Maybe the lovely sunset inspired her.

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The persistent poppy


I’ve always been slightly smitten with poppies. They seem so bright and happy. And the name fits perfectly. So I planted one in the garden several years ago.

Only to have my mom yank it out.

Three times.

She thought it was a weed. Every time I scolded her she’d dig a bit, plunk it back in and apologize profusely. And then, an hour later, there she goes again!

Miraculously, that plant is still living. Not so miraculously, it’s never grown much and it spits out a single flower if I’m lucky. (I reminded her of her vicious ways when she came for a visit last weekend. I’m spiteful like that.)

A single unreliable poppy just doesn’t cut it for me, though, so I got another plant last year and I kept my mom FAR AWAY from it. And now it’s blooming nicely. With several flowers. So I finally have my poppies! I group them in with my other favorites that I’ve made sure to include in my garden each year: peonies, hollyhocks, zinnias and sunflowers.

Those sprouts below are from a sunflower kit that Dev begged me to buy for him. They started to emerge just yesterday and we’ll get them out into the garden with the others we planted and watch them grow nice and tall. As long as I can keep the critters away from them.



A few of the other blooms that are making me smile right now…DSC_1991 DSC_1995 DSC_1996 DSC_1999

And then two random cat photos. Because one is never enough.DSC_2012 DSC_1984



We like Finn. He came to us last summer all scrawny and a little unsure of how to be a pet after running wild and solo in the Cascade woods. He didn’t endear himself to me right away, I admit. But once we got the spraying under control, my heart melted a bit. And it unfroze even more after he stopped growling at me at random times. Plus, he lets Devin love him up whenever the kiddo pleases. He’s transformed from king of the jungle to fairly mellow feline over the past many months.

Apparently not quite as mellow as I thought, though. I discovered this last week when I took him to the vet. He’d been there before and, like a lot of kitties, he wasn’t exactly elated about the whole experience. (Lucy, on the other hand, would roll on her back contentedly when she visited. But she was a nut.) Still, Finn told the staff off a few times but he was generally cooperative.

This time? After a calm transport to the clinic and a cooperative stint in the waiting room, he turned into Screaming Cat of the Century. If the vet tech or the vet tried to touch him, the noises that ensued were just incredible. The resident clinic cats even gathered outside of his room to watch the spectacle of screeching, hissing, growling and yowling. Emitted in ALL CAPS.

Every time they let go of him to write something up or talk to me about some aspect of his health, he retreated under the exam table. When it came time to get him again the screeching resumed. For bloodwork they took him into the back offices and I could hear his stricken banshee sounds through the thick, wooden door.

When the exam was over and he was back in his carrier and all screeched out, I asked the vet tech whether other cats made that much noise. She hesitated a moment, then kindly said, “He’s pretty loud.” I was just relieved that we were the last appointment of the day and there weren’t any witnesses in the waiting room when we came out. What a drama king!

the new addition

It’s been three months since we said goodbye to Lucy. I knew we’d always want another feline companion. My plan was to start checking out some of the cats at the local rescues who might be a good fit for our family. But neither Maggie nor Lucy came into our lives according to plan, so why should this time be any different?

“My friend found a stray cat.”

Well, yeah. But I don’t want a stray cat. I want to know some background and make a careful choice.

So much for that. This is Phineas. Finn for short. He’s got a bacterial infection and some parasites after living in the wilds for a while. He’s now hanging out in Devin’s bedroom to get his bearings. I’m hoping he and Juliette will work out there anxieties soon. Then comes Queen Maggie. Not sure if she’s going to like him at all. But then she didn’t like Lucy at first either.

pineapple smoothie

What? You don’t think this looks like a pineapple smoothie?

Ingredients: pineapple chunks, pineapple juice, Chobani pineapple yogurt and some ice.

Oh, and some spinach too.

Pretty much every smoothie I make these days includes spinach. I hesitated slightly on this one, knowing I’d lose the golden color, but it’s hard to resist throwing it in there when I know that Devin will slurp it all down – healthy spinachy vitamins and all. And I’m not sneaking it. He knows I put it in there. Even with the concoctions that involve darker fruits like blueberries. He doesn’t care. It all tastes like fruity goodness to him.

Father’s Day weekend: Saturday

Saturday consisted of a lot of housework — and a lot of water balloons!

While Scott was at the gym, the kid and I filled up more than 30 balloons with plans to ambush him when he got home. But we got distracted and the father in question stayed dry.

But when Kev and Clo came over later that afternoon, the water balloons were remembered. And there was much throwing and splashing and drenching. And lots and lots more balloons filled up.

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, Juliette enjoyed some bonding time with Kevin.



Lucy hasn’t even been gone a month. It feels weird not having her around. She had what they call presence. Torties, in fact, are known for being very sassy cats. She definitely lived up to her “breed.”

As I was telling my mom tonight on the phone, I sometimes feel a bit guilty at how much easier my life is now that she’s gone. Before we found out she had cancer, she was already a high-maintenance kitty. She had digestive issues from kittenhood (she created some very impressive farts when we first got her…VERY impressive) and was eventually diagnosed with irritable bowel disorder and pancreatitis. She’s had numerous visits to the emergency hospital and the vet for episodes and was taking three medications a day.

To make matters worse, she seemed to court danger. She would eat anything that had a string attached, which inevitably set off a bout of pancreatitis, which is what precipitated the majority of those vet trips. Just over a year ago she chewed up and swallowed one of a stretchy cord attached to one of those Rudolph noses that people wear at Christmastime. She ended up in the ER and almost had to have surgery. She pooped it out, luckily, but she was one sick kitty for a couple of days. So the rule in the house was to hide everything with a string. She ate through the mini blind cords, the string that pulled Batman up into Devin’s batcave and my iPhone earbud cord. Seriously. She chewed up the cord and spit it back out into tiny pieces.

And? She would eat ANY greenery that came into our house. No flower or plant was safe from her. I once put a daisy in a vase when she wasn’t looking and stuck it up on the mantle above the fireplace and I came down in the morning to find all of the petals gone. She even ate my fake flowers. I kid you not. They were plastic and had to taste pretty gross compared to the real thing. But she was a goof. A total and complete goof.

So Dev and I were walking Juliette past an empty lot yesterday. It was bursting with dandelions. Happy, sunny dandelions. So we started picking. I loved the little bouquet we came up with. It made me smile. But it also made me a little bit sad. I’d honestly give up the flowers if we could have Miss Sassy Pants back.