Friday, April 13, 2012

Simon's Cat in 'Double Trouble'

Kitteh Fever

 Our apartment building has four units. Three of those have dogs living in them. Both of us like dogs who don't jump, bark and act like maniacs, but definitely identify comfort with cats. For months, Steve and I have been exchanging cat cartoons, videos and photos that make us laugh (see above) or kill us with their cuteness. I think both of us knew it was only a matter of time before we caved and got a cat. 

We went off to the Lexington Human Shelter in February and spent several hours visiting with the kitties. While I was blithely going from cabana to cabana, assessing, and scritching heads, Steve hadn't moved much. He was squatting behind the door and a black and white paw was holding his finger through the bars. He was smitten. We took "Baby" out and brought her to the meet and greet room, where she prowled around, growling at the smells of stress in the room. This made us a little nervous, but when picked up, this squat little cow kitty would purr like her ship had come in. Well, it had, really. We tried a few others in meet and greet and they didn't stand up to the cow kitty's charm and curiosity. We decided the growling was from fear and overstimulation and adopted her. On the way home, we brainstormed names and Steve came up with "Gladys," which nearly caused me to crash the car, I was laughing so hard. Gladys she became! She was so sweet and quiet on the way home: we were loath to leave her for a dinner outing with Steve's colleagues, but thought it was a nice 3-hour block of time she could use to adjust to her new home. This is the video we took when we returned and she came out from under the bed:

Over time, the low growling-- or grousing, as we called it-- stopped almost altogether. Gladys, though extremely curious, does initially err on the side of caution, moving "low and slow" and growling if things get to be too scary: initially, noisy neighbor dogs, going on the porch, going in kitchen cupboards, loud rain, and being put up on high shelves. (We don't leave her there long. It's mostly to help with hard-to-reach dusting.) All of these things have become normal parts of her day now and she relishes porch time. Interestingly, she self-polices about getting up on the dangerous railing, growling to remind herself she can fall. She especially likes swinging out there, if only on the left side of the swing. Most cats I know would jump off with the movement, but Gladys seems to enjoy it!
 You can often find her in our dining room on the "Praise Chair." She favors the chairs in our apartment that have woven bottoms, for traction and warmth, I think. Also, like Mike Sturdevant's cat, she enjoys surveying meal times, not begging, just being part of the proceedings. When we started giving her cat treats, she would get in her chair to receive them. Soon we decided to train her to stand on her hind legs before getting a treat, and that evolved into a kind of "shell game" like those you'd see at a 19th century fair. Mostly, she gets it right these days. Her tail puffs wildly with excitement when this happens.

 Despite porch time, laser play, earplug chasing, and prism gazing, Gladys gets bored. Since she has been indulging in "pansy salad" on the porch, Steve suggested we get her a harness and leash to take her to the park. I must admit, I didn't think it would work... but she adapted almost immediately. We started slowly, getting her used to the harness, which made her take teeny old lady kitty steps (despite its being pretty loose), then got her playing with the leash. We went for a little stroll on the side of the apartment building and Gladys ate grass, hid in the shrubs and enjoyed the sunshine. Her black and silver harness looks very fetching!  

All told, she's the softest, funniest, smartest cat either one of us have ever had, and her affectionate nature makes her a delight. If only she'd stop raiding our bar.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What's to love about Lex

I am meeting so many people in the academic world (and out of it) that I have started a flow chart to keep track of them. For real. Steve did this when he was doing research in Africa so that he could document how he had met people and who knew whom. Doing this has shown me I now have in my life a web of warm, talented people all looking to help get us integrated into the music and academic community in Lexington. This is not to say it happened overnight, or without some frustration, but persisting with the calls, emails, dinners, and coffee dates is really beginning to bear fruit. We've enjoyed getting to know several of Steve's colleagues-- we do dinner parties! Success! On Monday I have an interview for the position of Choir Director with an inclusive,  liberal-minded church we can literally see from our front porch. Convenient! Cross your fingers: this would be a wonderful way to start working part-time, and making connections in the community outside of the university. It might also be a great platform for my Jane Austen Singing School. Also on Monday, I will be starting rehearsals with Musick's Company, an early music group directed temporarily by Loren Tice, who is a harpsichord/piano professor at Transylvania University here in town. We will be doing a concert May 19th!

Steve is teaching 5 days a week this semester, but has some wonderful students and is teaching a "capstone class," or more advanced group of students, in Oral History. We do manage to find ways to unwind, though.
A desperate bid to beat the Spiny Galaxy. Wii Super Mario Galaxy 3D.

Last weekend we hiked the Eastern ridge of the Forest Trail near Berea: we could see farmland and small neighborhoods for miles from the rock ledges. Types of oak and pine trees unfamiliar to me thrive on the mountain

and there are beautiful exposed layers of sandstone, limestone, and tumbled pebbles from primordial beaches:

There are clefts in the rock from which emerge ninja professors:


Last week we had a fantastic visit from our first HOUSEGUEST! Steve's aunt Sandy came for three days and tootled around with us to fabric stores and restaurants. She brought her sewing machine, indefatigable energy, extra fabric and made us THE most gorgeous Roman shades.. we think our room looks like a Moroccan bower. 

We took Sandy to our favorite lunch place, Stella's. They serve wonderful blackberry sodas that aren't too sweet, fried green tomatoes, and Hot Brown sandwiches, an institution. Hot browns are turkey, bacon, and Mornay sauce, baked or broiled till the bread is brown, and were originally served at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, KY in 1926.
Steve & Sandy at Stella's
Some of our other favorite things about Lexington: DRIVE THRU LIQUOR STORES. Yes. True.

We're into the Dark & Stormy at present:
2 oz dark rum
3 oz ginger beer
lime wedge

As I look for work, the upside is that I have plenty of time to feed us good things. Last night we enjoyed a Vermont-origin recipe (I believe!) of Fabulous Quinoa Dish! I don't even know its name. However, it is vegan (we haven't gone down that road, but love healthy, tasty meals) and is not too tough to make.

1 butternut squash, peeled, diced into 1/2" pieces
2 c. dried cranberries
1 red onion, diced
2 T. parsley
1 clove garlic, pressed

1T. maple syrup

2 t. garam masala
1/2 c. crumbled, toasted pecans
Bed of greens (I like baby spinach)
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

1. Preheat oven to 375F. 
2. Into large pan, add diced butternut squash, cranberries, onion. Stir in olive oil, maple syrup, and pressed garlic, until coated. 
3. Bake at 375F for one hour. Stir every 20 mins.
4. While baking, toast pecans 5-7mins in toaster oven or in frying pan. Do not burn.
5. Empty baked veggies into large bowl. Stir in parsley, pecans, garam masala, salt & pepper to taste. Toss with extra olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
6. Allow to cool a bit. Serve over bed of greens.

A note about sisters and brothers-in-law: one's life can be enhanced by their good taste and generosity. We are greatly enjoying the Meleau French-style port (from NY) to which they introduced us. We (I) are knitting a blanket which my InSister had me start from her extra yarn. It is coming along, though not in the pattern I anticipated:

AND!! We are LOVING our bird feeder, which we dutifully fill with black oil sunflower seeds. As Steve says, it is our Subscription to Birds. We have seen: House finches, House sparrows, Tufted Titmice, Cardinals, and various other Sparrows Yet To Be Identified. 
A Tufted Titmouse at our feeder. And yes, the eyes of a Titmouse ARE illegally cute.

  Also cute? boyfriends who give us flowers for no reason.

(Next blog, I have a feeling I will be posting embarrassing photos of myself. Payback: it ar imminent.)