Still Life, With Cats

This content shows Simple View


All that glitters

Yesterday we had folks out demolishing concrete and digging big holes in the yard in order to replace our sewer line. This is one of those things that has been on our list to take care for quite a while, so….Merry Christmas to us (we decided it was our joint present, because Adulting), so while listening to the occasional jackhammering, and not being able to flush anything down the drain for a few hours was minorly annoying, it was worth it to finally get it done.

They came back this afternoon to fill in the holes, and at some point later this week they’ll come back again to replace the cement that they had to dig up, but hooray, at least it’s done.

In less expensive news, the Christmas ornaments for this year’s tree theme finally arrived, so this evening we took roughly 90 seconds to decorate.

Doesn’t that look festive and lovely?

I know you’re wondering what they are. Here’s a closer look – can you guess?

So it turns out you can get a bag of 50 sparkle ball cat toys for less than $10 if you poke around long enough on the internet, and the beauty of using sparkle balls is that they require no hooks for hanging – you can just tuck them into the branches, and when they are (cough) ‘liberated’, you can just gather them up and replace them as you walk by.

It took Guffaw a few minutes to figure out what was going on, but once he realized what they were he was extremely excited, and over the course of the evening he plucked three from the tree and then chased them all over the house until he wore themselves out.

I think this year’s decorating scheme can be considered a qualified success.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Filling the space

Tonight was the final concert in the back-to-back three-in-a-row performances we’ve been doing for the season. The first was Saturday night, at our ‘home’ space (where we’ve been rehearsing), while yesterday’s was down in Oakland, so most of us headed down early to meet for lunch at rather tasty little Brazilian restaurant near the venue. Tonight was back in Sacramento.

This concert has been one of my favorites we’ve sung since I’ve been in the group (16+ years). The music was absolutely gorgeous; this particular group of singers blends together better than I think we ever have, and then you throw in a gifted organist, a stunning soprano soloist, and an absolutely amazing celloist, and it was just magical.

It’s a little bittersweet to be done, but also a bit of a relief. I feel like this month I have been running at full speed, and now I can see the end in sight – only a few more days of work before I get some much-needed time off, and can actually relax.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Properly clad

Our concert attire for the group in which I sing is all black, including black shoes. I bought my last pair an unknown number of years ago and they’ve been doing fine, although in the past few years, they’ve been starting to look a bit ragged, and they weren’t the most supportive things to be wearing when standing for long periods of time. But as performances are just about the only time I need dress shoes these days, I figured it wasn’t a huge deal to just keep using them, since it’s not like anyone was really ever staring at our feet.

But yesterday, after the performance for the TV snippet, the sole on my right shoe came off completely, and I knew it was time to finally replace them. Problem was, however, that I looked at the calendar and realized that with working full time, there was basically going to be no time at all to try to do any sort of shoe shopping between now and next weekend, which is when our string of back-to-back concerts takes place, and the thought of shopping for *anything* in person at this point in December filled me with dread.

Thankfully, however, there is Amazon. I know, I know, they are extremely problematic as a company, but when you are in a panic and need something right away, they are who you have to turn to, especially when the shoes arrive less than 24 hours after ordering, and even better, returning them is super easy if they didn’t fit.

So now I have a comfortable pair of new black shoes, suitable for concert attire as well as any sort of dressing up that I might have to do in the future, and I did not have to actually enter a store or deal with actual people in order to acquire them, and sometimes, living in the future really has its perks.

Tis the season for Holidailies.

Down time

We had grand plans for today. It being one of the only days in December where neither of us had anything planned, we were going to check off a whole bunch of things on our list – putting up the tree, figuring out the Christmas Card photo, doing some much needed chores around the house.

But after yesterday’s white-knuckled drive in the pouring rain, we were both exhausted. So instead we didn’t do much. Well, except for transporting foster kittens to the center for vaccines and deworming and lime dips (hooray for mystery skin crusties!), and also I baked some cookies while on video chat with my sisters. Or rather, I made cookie dough while on video chat, but all the doughs needed to chill, so I only ended up baking one type – molasses crinkles – which I overbaked anyway. Sigh.

On a bright note, however, I did get to have a vocal coaching session. Our director got permission for all of us to have a half hour with an absolutely fantastic vocal instructor, and I scheduled mine for this afternoon. And for the first time, I actually now understand some of what various choir directors over the years have said about breathing – because when I mentioned that my music background was instrumental instead of vocal – including the oboe, his eyes brightened and he immediately explained it in those terms, and not only did it make sense, I was then able to immediately put it into practice for him. Who knew my ancient history with a double reed would be the key?

– – – – – – – – – –

Today’s mini puzzle is a small child sleeping on a couch while two dogs play tug of war with some ribbon.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.


Today was the in-law Thanksgiving dinner, so I made some potato rolls (which didn’t turn out nearly as well as the last few times I’ve made them, ah well), and dropped off the incontinent diaper-clad foster kitten at the center for 24 hours of diaper-free time, and then we headed down to the Bay Area for another round of turkey and all the trimmings.

The dinner gathering was nice – we got to meet the newest nephew, and it’s always lovely to get to hang out with family members we don’t see very often. But getting there and back was….well…

At this point I should note that we here in the Northern California are smack in the middle of a rather nasty rainstorm. I know the folks getting slammed with snow and losing power might be scoffing right now, but considering our forever-drought status for the past couple years, a heavy rainstorm is actually kind of dangerous.

Naturally, the best thing to do in a heavy rainstorm, after long periods of no rain when the freeways are super slick and people have forgotten how to drive in it, of course, is to do a five-hour round trip on said freeways, with half of it being in the dark.

It wasn’t too bad on the way down – people seemed in general to be paying attention and driving slower due to the condition of the roads and the lowered visibility. But on the way home, I lost count of the number of accidents we passed, including one with the car literally hanging off the center divider of the freeway.

We made it home, safe and sound obviously, or I wouldn’t be typing this, but ugh. Welcome to winter.

– – – – – – – – – –

Today’s mini puzzle looks like part of the roof of the building, with the moon in the background, and a raindeer silhouette.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Oh look, it’s me

In case you were curious, this what it’s like, working at home with cats. This particular diaper-clad butt belongs to our (likely permanent because special needs kitties are often hard to place) foster kitten who is 100% incontinent because she has Manx Syndrome. She wears diapers 24/7, however, which takes care of the problem, so she gets to live her life like any other cat, including demanding (and usually getting) snuggles whenever she wants.

– – – – – – – – – –

As fun as I am finding this nifty puzzle-a-day advent calendar, I have determined that the actual mini puzzles don’t photograph well. So instead of sharing a blurry picture, I’ll just tell you what they are. And at the end, hopefully the entire assembled piece will be easier to distinguish when I take its picture.

Today’s picture is of a little girl decorating a Christmas tree by a fireplace.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Excuse me while I brush off the dust

Today is December 1, which means it’s time for my annual ‘Oh yeah, I have a blog!’ thing, using Holidailies as an excellent excuse.

Anyway. Hi! Welcome back! And welcome to the 23rd edition of Holidailies, wherein I and a lot of my fellow bloggers dust off our online spaces and do our best to post daily for one whole month.

If you’re new, get ready for lots of talk about foster kittens, baking, knitting, some singing (since I’m a member of a local vocal ensemble), and other assorted random things. Like, for instance jigsaw puzzles.

Oh hey, and speaking of puzzles, guess what sort of cool Advent calendar I got for myself this year?

I absolutely love jigsaw puzzles, but in a house with 5 cats plus a revolving door of excitable foster kittens, it’s often difficult to find a safe space to work on them, without pieces mysteriously wandering off, or developing tiny puncture holes spaced exactly the width of a mouth full of kitten teeth. But these puzzles are super tiny – only 50 pieces each – so I can put them together with my first cup of coffee and a minimum of feline assistance.

Anyway. Here’s a crappy picture of the first day. I swear I’ll try to get better shots going forward.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

He sees you when you’re sleeping

Richard and I were watching one of those decorating competition shows the other day and one of the judges mentioned how Theme Trees are super in right now, and we collectively rolled our eyes because it seems more than a bit ridiculous to go spend a ton of money on matching ornaments just to fit a particular theme, which always ends up looking more like something you see in a store window than something that’s meant to be gathered around with family and presents. But then one of the teams made some ornaments as part of their specific Theme Tree, and we looked at each other and then….

…then we had an Idea.

Roughly thirty bucks worth of materials via the miracle of the internets later, and two nights spent doing a wee bit of crafting, and I present to you Our Theme Tree.

I’m calling it Eye’ll Be Home for Christmas. You’re welcome.

Want a close-up of the actual ornaments? Sure, here you go.

(Googly eyes stuck onto ping pong balls, in case you are super jealous of our tree covered in eyeballs and want to replicate the fun)

So there we go. If only one of us had even the remotest engineering skill they would all also be moving, so you probably should be glad that’s not our forte.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

The return of the self-decorating tree

We finally put up the tree. We’d actually been dithering about whether we wanted to do any sort of decorating at all since Thanksgiving, considering the state of the world (waves hand vaguely), and also the number of excitable foster kittens still in residence, but then we came up with An Idea (which I will talk about tomorrow), and so tonight the tree went up.

Foster kitten Chantilly and resident cat Guffaw took on the roll of Tree Inspection Brigade as we attempted to unpack the pieces.

Once completed, foster kitten Pickle joined the Inspection Brigade to make sure that the tree was assembled correctly.

And then we sat back and waited. Want to take a guess who was first up the tree?

Nope, it wasn’t who you think.

Yes, that would be Timmie, the largest cat in the house, who launched herself halfway up the tree. There are many reasons why we are glad we switched to a fake tree lo, those many years ago, but one very important reason is that they are extremely sturdy.

Don’t worry, though. Guffaw made *quite* sure to live up to our #GreyOnesAreTrouble lifestyle.

And thus, the self-decorating tree continues for another year.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.

Winter weekend

It’s been a very cold, and occasionally damp weekend. So except for a couple outings (another cookie exchange with friends, and taking a sickly foster kitten in for a check), I have stayed inside where it is warm and cozy and dry.

The cookie exchange assortment. There were a lot of cookies!

Also I made a few things

Apple pancakes with boiled cider sauce, because when one makes boiled cider and also purchased an entire case of apples, one needs to then find ways of using those ingredients up. I shred the apples instead of chopping them because I find that makes them more likely to cook all the way through in this sort of application. They turned out super delicious and we’ll be eating these for breakfast for the next couple days.

Lemon Soup. We add sliced carrots to ours, but otherwise follow the recipe as written. Paired with homemade biscuits, it is the perfect comfort lunch for a cold day.

This awesome jigsaw puzzle. It’s ‘The Winter Fair’ by Jan Van Haastaren, and someone on my local Buy Nothing group was giving it away. Since these are my absolute favorite types of puzzles, I threw my name into the hat, and I won. I managed to assemble this in one evening, despite the ‘assistance’ of several excitable foster kittens.

‘Tis the season for Holidailies.