Easily amused

A large box arrived from Amazon today. This was, of course, cause for great excitement among the cats because box (!) but even better, the stuff inside was covered with a giant length of wadded up packing paper.

Because I am a well-trained human, I immediately flattened the paper out and laid it down on the floor (it stretches a good four to five feet in length), and then we sat back and waited for the inevitable.

All cats like packing paper, of course, but none of them like packing paper like Sherman loves packing paper. And I mean he LOVES packing paper – or rather, he loves lurking *under* packing paper. And then he tries to ‘sneak’ around, and the paper moves along with him. So all evening we have been giggling madly, watching this giant length of brown paper drifting slowly around the house, propelled by nothing more than magic and the suspiciously Sherman-shaped lump underneath.

*****

Technically, the things in the middle of this snowflake are shells (via the aptly named ‘shell stitch’). You can choose to believe that, or you can instead see that the combination of shells plus the trio of pointy bits atop each shell makes them look like monsters roaring.

I’m making you look at snowflakes in a whole new way this month, aren’t I!

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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The manner to which he is accustomed

Due to the fact that our cat horde has always included cats of varying temperaments and levels of bravery, we free feed, which means the more portly cats (cough cough Nutmeg) have the same access to kibble as the thinner, more active cats. We’ve tried to do set meals in the past, but it’s always ended up with the skinny cats losing weight and the fat cats gaining weight, and in general it’s been pretty stressful for everyone involved, so now we just free feed and do our best to get the more sedentary cats (there is a reason we refer to Nutmeg as the potato cat, after all) to move a little bit more than they might otherwise be inclined, and also do our best to keep the more active cats busily distracted so they don’t destroy the house.

Rupert is a VERY smart cat and adores food puzzles. Years ago we got a dog puzzle toy that has flaps to lift up and sliders to move, and we regularly fill it with kibble – the exact same stuff that is in the food bowls. He *adores* it though – he will happily extract the kibble and eat it as if he was getting a marvelous treat.

Over the past few years, more companies have started to bring out more puzzle toys, and we’ve tried a lot of them. Some of them were completely ignored (and then passed on to someone else to try), but a few have been successes. Now we’ve got a selection of various puzzle toys that we rotate out, and fill with food (sometimes we also throw treats in there, but usually just regular kibble is sufficient), to try to keep Rupert busy – and if Rupert is distracted, often times Sherman (and now Ruby) will be right there with him, which is a bonus because see above re. keeping him from destroying the house and they are his very faithful minions.

Anyway. I stumbled across this site today and it made me laugh because these people didn’t just try to deal with a Rupert-like cat, they wrote an actual research paper on it.

*****

Yes, yes, you say, that’s nice, but I’m here for the snowflakes. Fine, here you go.

(also is it just me or does it look like this snowflake is flipping everyone off?)

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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Commuting

I had to get up extra early this morning to drive down to a work meeting; early enough that I watched the sun rise as I headed down the freeway. It was rather nice.

And then on the way home I got stuck in construction related traffic, which wasn’t nice at all. Fun times.

*****

Oops, didn’t post yesterday, so here’s two snowflakes to make up for it.

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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Warm front

I was supposed to go to an off-site meeting today, for work.

However, when I got into the office and cranked up the computer to check email, I discovered the meeting had been postponed until Wednesday. This was a relief because I was feeling nauseous and my head was killing me, and so instead of having to drive several hours to go to a meeting, I could just go back home and curl up on the couch and try to make it go away.

(Cats are very helpful at the whole ‘curl up on the couch’ part of the equation)

I kept wracking my brain, trying to figure out what I might have done that led to me feeling so poorly, until it finally dawned on me that oh, right, the *weather* happened.

In my next life I am not going to have sinuses that hate me and use any change in barometric pressure to try to kill me. Ugh.

*****

Oh look, another snowflake. Yay, or something.

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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Multi-tasking

This morning I made sandwich rolls (I make a couple dozen every few weeks and keep them in the freezer) and finished the eclairs.

I know that doesn’t sound like much, except that those two things took me ALL morning. Phase 1 of the sandwich rolls requires mixing up oats and butter and brown sugar in a big bowl with water to soak, so I set that up and then ran off to the store to pick up all the things I didn’t have for the pastry cream. As soon as I got back home, I tossed the yeast into the bowl with the oat mixture for the rolls, and separated egg yolks from egg whites for the pastry cream, and then after whisking the yolks into some sugar and cornstarch, I added in all the flour for the rolls and got that all kneaded and set up in the dough bucket to rise, and then it was back to the pastry cream, which required constant stirring, because of *course* it did.

And then when *that* was in the fridge I went and made a snowflake, before turning the leftover egg whites into a late breakfast for Richard and I, and then it was time to form the rolls, and while they were rising I worked on laundry, and chopped up chocolate for the glaze. Next the rolls had to go into the oven (thank goodness for the convection setting on the oven, because at least that way I can do all three pans of them at once), and while they were baking, I had just enough time to pipe the filling into the eclairs and dip them in the glaze and then throw them into the freezer for about 5 minutes (primarily to force the glaze to set so it wouldn’t make a huge mess in the car) and then I yanked the rolls out of the oven and dumped them onto some tea towels to cool on the kitchen counter, before heading out, a dozen eclairs in hand, for my meeting. Phew.

They turned out delicious, by the way, in case you were wondering (and I am sure you were). I’ve made cream puffs a ton of times in the past but this is the first time I’ve done eclairs, I think. Would definitely make them again.

*****

There are seven points on today’s snowflake. *That* was a joy to try to pin out evenly. Also, look, it’s the return of the little ghost-points!

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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Airy

Richard was off visiting family today but I stayed home because I looked at the calendar and started to panic at everything I still have to get done over the next couple weeks and this weekend is pretty much it in terms of free time for the foreseeable future.

So I spent most of the day either camped out on the couch, furiously knitting lace things, or else at the computer, busily formatting and editing lace-related things for an upcoming deadline.

Also I made eclair shells because I talked my little sister into doing King Arthur’s February bake-along with me (it took so much arm twisting to convince her. SO MUCH (cough cough not).

Note: eclairs (and cream puffs) may *look* complicated and impossible but seriously, choux pastry is super easy to make and work with, and even if you end up with collapsed shells, they still will *taste* perfectly yummy. I am, however, quite happy these didn’t collapse (although we shall not discuss the rather glaring lack of uniformity in shape and size. Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood would be so disappointed).

*****

Today’s snowflake is very lacy and delicate and also thankfully free of any sort of out-stretched hands. Also I didn’t even notice the grey fuzz in the picture until just now, but I’m sure I have NO idea where *that* came from, Rupert.

(completely unrelated, Ruperts are not as helpful at pinning out snowflakes to block as they think they are)

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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In deep R’lyeh…

Today’s snowflake: the star of many (many, many) hands.

I’m sure there’s a Lovecraft joke to be made here somewhere.

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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Entry List

How to get into the house when carrying a 30-pound bag of litter, a purse, a lunch sack, and a bag of stuff from the drug store when you *don’t* have a Sherman in the house:

  1. Unlock door
  2. Open door
  3. Walk inside
  4. Close door behind you.
  5. Don’t even think about why this might be a big deal because relax, you don’t have a Sherman in *your* house!

How to get into the house while carrying a 30-pound bag of cat litter, a purse, a lunch sack, and a bag of stuff from the drug store when you *do* have a Sherman in the house:

  1. Unlock door but do not open yet, no really, don’t do it.
  2. Set bag of litter on ground, upright, flush against the edge of the door where it will open out.
  3. Open door only wide enough to wedge in upright bag of litter, thereby frustrating the Sherman, who clearly did not expect this turn of events.
  4. Shove purse, lunch sack, and bag of stuff from drugstore through the narrow gap in the door, one at a time, whilst simultaneously holding on to the door itself with your free hand to keep it from opening any wider, and also clutching the bag of litter with your prehensile knees to ensure it doesn’t fall over, thus affording the very, very, determined Sherman an avenue of escape.
  5. Now unencumbered by any other bags, lean carefully through the gap, and scruff the wily grey puffball firmly, while simultaneously nudging the bag of litter forward and opening the door wider at the same time.
  6. Zip inside the house.
  7. Close door behind you quickly. QUICKLY.
  8. Listen to the sad, thwarted Sherman sing the songs of his people, loudly, and at length, to the closed door.
  9. Rest. You’ve earned it.

*****

Oh look, it’s a snowflake! Who ever would have expected that?

(yeah, sorry, I’ve got nothing)

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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Or should that be ‘caw-cophony’?

The rain eased off this afternoon, and when I left the office, the sky was a lovely grey and the air was filled with a cacophony of crows, wheeling through the air and settling in to the branches of the trees for several blocks.

*****

Here’s today’s snowflake. I didn’t do such a great job of blocking it (*there’s* a surprise, cough cough not), but otherwise it turned out quite nice. I like the lacy bits at the outer edges.

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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Water falling down

It is soggy in this part of California lately.

Very, very soggy.

I keep reminding myself that once upon a time, this kind of heavy rain was the norm during the winter – before the big long ugly drought hit and the whole state was focused on finding ways to cut back on water usage. Now that things seem to get getting back to ‘normal’ (albeit rather suddenly), there’s a sense of relief as the reservoirs are all filling up and the snow pack is growing, but in the meantime, it has begun to feel a bit as if we really ought to be investing in small boats, in preparation for the impending flood.

*****

Today’s snowflake is #36 in the book.

Why yes, there are a lot of similarities between this snowflake and yesterday’s snowflake. The difference, however, is that the longer points are *joined* in this one and they weren’t in yesterdays. Also the center is bigger and the points look more like hands reaching out to grab you.

Or you could just pretend they look like frogs legs instead. Your preference.

Making a snowflake a day for Thingadailies.

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