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While I generally prefer cooking with fresh things, this is an easy, tasty vegetarian dish that I can throw together in minutes. It’s might spicy, so tastebuds beware!

Mexican Quinoa

  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. minced garlic (I use the bottled stuff)
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 c. quinoa (I use the stuff that’s already kind of cooked)
  • 1 c. vegetable broth (or water)
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 15 oz. can corn, drained
  • 1 can diced jalapeño peppers, drained
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Diced avocado

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cumin and stir for about a minute. Add the beans, tomatoes, corn, jalapeños, and quinoa. After about 1 minute, add the broth and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes until the quinoa is cooked. Remove pan from heat and let it rest, covered, for 5 minutes. Add a half an avocado, diced, to each bowl when serving. Serves 4 as an excellent spicy comfort food.

Cat in a Box.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Firefighters
  • Having the end of MKL’s move in sight
  • Almost two months with no sugar (because I’m sweet enough as it is, damn it)

We should all be this content.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • Sweet peas sprouting by the mailboxes
  • The lone deer sitting under the pines in the cemetery
  • Presents for people I love
  • Cooking plans
Yesterday. More snow than I expected.
Today. The blue sky and sun helps.

Amazing how much difference a day can make. It feels like the extremes are more extreme up here. Weather never just fades away. It’s either on or it’s off. No in between. I either feel like Jack Nicholson in The Shining going mad or Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music twirling on a sunny mountaintop.

In other news, Pharoah and I are getting along famously. He made an appearance on my Zoom staff meeting this morning, slept on my stomach all night last night, and was absolutely shocked at my taking a bath.

One shocked cat.

I don’t think he’d ever seen a human do such a thing, so he delicately walked around the rim of the tub. Thank heavens for his sure-footedness, as I’ve had a cat fall into a bathtub with me once and it is not an experience I would choose to repeat.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • A helpful, ethical well services guy
  • Living with a cat again
  • Sunshine
  • Snow falling from the pine trees

It feels like my whole life was kindling. An exaggeration, I know, but yesterday, I saw a picture of an old fence, like one that surrounded graves 120 years ago. And I remembered that I had had a piece of fencing like that, something ex-Pat and I found on a trip to Leadville, that had been waiting for years to become an integral piece of art. That became nothing more than kindling.

My giant, ancient, solid, five-inch thick wooden door, resting on iron rods, a much-desired, terribly weathered birthday present that I used as a potting table, now reduced to just those pieces of iron. Nothing more than kindling.

The K Tree, an ornamental pear that we planted when K was born, that was split by a heavy spring snow and yet still survived to bloom each spring, now a charred shadow of its former self. Nothing more than kindling.

When the Texas Baptist Men were sifting through the ashes, one said, “You must have had a lot of combustible stuff in here.” I suppose I did. Waist high stacks of pages of ashes marked where my bookshelves were, where K’s bookshelves were, all disintegrating at the slightest touch of my finger. Dust in the wind. Nothing more than kindling.

And another fire, in Boulder yesterday, burning trails my feet know well. Mercifully, the winds were not what they were on December 30, so other communities were spared the fate of mine. But it raised the specter of that day. K knew about this fire before I did – she had friends who were evacuated – but didn’t want to stress me out by telling me.

I’m maudlin today, despite the warm weather, as we’re having troubles with our well at the Retreat and I feel like I’ve moved into the house in that ‘80s movie, The Money Pit. I’m sullen and sulky and cannot even take a bath for comfort. I’m feeling like it’s all somewhat pointless. Because in the long run, after all, I’m really nothing more than kindling.

A spider braving the melting snow.
Compulsory cat photo.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • MKL, today and every day
  • Blankets
  • Lots of birdsong
  • The road to the Final Four

And his name is Pharaoh. Maybe I should say there’s a new cat god in town. This is our late son’s Maine Coon, who’s been living with MKL. Yesterday, we shifted him up to the Retreat. He’s settling in well. He’s very attached to MKL though, so as much as he likes me, I’m a little nervous about how we’ll do when MKL goes back to civilization tomorrow. He’s super smart, can open most closed doors, and lives up to his breed’s reputation as “the dog of cats”. But it sure was nice to have him snuggle in my lap for a couple of hours. It’s been too long.

Today’s gratitudes:

  • A lovely day
  • Successfully cooking dinner
  • Cats
  • Coach K’s 100th tournament win

A sad day today and a storm coming. Perhaps my mood fluctuates with the barometer. Perhaps I am the barometer. But a high point of today was speaking to a friend of my heart who turns 93 on the 27th. I was getting concerned that I hadn’t heard from him after my last letter, particularly with how cruel this year has been for so many. So that, and a gorgeous sunrise, are today’s gratitudes.

Today’s love note goes out to my daughter.

Dear One,
There are too many things to thank you for…it would take a lifetime…but I’ll just stick with today. Thank you for coming to my rescue in the dreaded mouse affair, and for switching roles with me, comforting me after my bad dream. I did feel a little bit bad for the mouse, but thinking about Mr. Man using it as a plaything in the bed in the wee small hours drastically reduced my sympathy. I love the empathy that shines through your soul, and I will try to tough out any future rodent encounters, thinking of your strength. I expect there will be more, as Mr. Man seems excessively proud of his mouser skills, and the winter is bound to get colder. All my love.

Today’s quote: “Any cat may stare into a fire and see red mice play.” — George R.R. Martin

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#yearoflove

This is Avocado – Avo, for short – facing the cold, blustery world of Bellingham, Washington. When he’s not looking out the window, he’s snuggling, cuddling to the point of being so contentedly limp as to slide off a lap, and perfectly happy being resettled, purring as loudly as I’ve ever heard a cat purr. He, along with his brother, (Indiana) Jones, are new to the world of my daughter and her wonderful housemates. Found far away from civilization, in a field on a nearby reservation, they are clearly bonded, and love to be loved. And I love them, and my daughter, and her housemates. I flew out to surprise her for her 20th birthday, which was yesterday, and she was indeed totally surprised. It was just how surprises are supposed to work. I have spent today, when she still had class and other social obligations, watching the wind and rain in the tall cypress in their front yard, snuggling cats, reading, writing, and meeting her marvelous friends. I’m not used to being in a house with more than one other person (or animal, for that matter), so it’s been an amazing sensation, to feel surrounded by lots of people who laugh, love, and respect each other, who have strong feelings and opinions about our world and the future, and who delight in each other’s company. Adventures to follow…

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Bellingham, Washington.

Quote of the day: “Time spent with a cat is never wasted.” — Colette

Daily gratitudes:
Music
Peaceful times
Smart souls
Laughter
My daughter’s love and openness to letting me into her life

Well, not exactly, but the blues are singing a song of me today, and kitties always seem to help, whether it is images on a screen, or the real thing sitting on my heart. Mr. Man does have a tendency to lay on whatever part of me isn’t feeling up to snuff. He’s a wise healing kitty. It was a lovely Thanksgiving, and I hope you all enjoyed it or at least kept family disputes to a minimum. I know it can be a tense time, especially this year.

For me now, we enter into a strange chrysalis-like phase that often lasts from after Thanksgiving until after the anniversary of my Mother’s passing. It will be ten years this year, and seems like yesterday sometimes. Two friends have lost a parent in the last week, and my heart goes out to them. It alters the character of the holidays when a loss is associated with days that the rest of the world associates with a certain celebration.

So for now, kitties.

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Littleton, Colorado.

Quote of the day: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” — Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Daily gratitudes:
A lovely day
A lovely yesterday with MKL
A Downton Abbey marathon
A long talk with Kelsea
The East Simpson Coffee Shop

As a woman of a certain age, with two sedentary jobs, I’m not surprised that I feel the need to be in better shape – and lose a few pounds. It’s a thing for me, not for MKL, who loves me just the way I am – which is probably a lot of the reason why I feel better about losing those few pounds – because they matter to me, and he’s not judging me. Because he’s awesome.

I am a stress-eater, not a hunger eater. That started during my Mother’s final days, when I would realize I hadn’t eaten and go in the kitchen in the dark and eat half a pie. And while my stress level is nothing like it was at that time, it’s still pretty high. And I still have that bored-eating, stress-eating thing.

Exercise has, does, and will help, but time is my most precious commodity these days.

We can talk about fitness later, but the good news is that I have lost a few pounds, and will continue to lose more. How did I do it, you ask?

It’s the mouse in the pantry.

Whereas, in the pre-mouse days, I would wander into the pantry and scan the shelves, finding something to nibble on, if I wasn’t sure what to do with myself, or I hadn’t had a proper dinner, or the timing of eating was weird. I’d inevitably eat something not healthy, and eat too much of it.  Now, in the post-mouse-olyptic era, I won’t even go into the pantry without making a lot of noise, and cringing, in case he (or one of his clones) skitters within my line of sight. And furthermore, because the first two consumed almost $200 worth of pantry staples, what’s left (or replaced) in the pantry is now in those big, lidded, storage bins.

I don’t want to move the bins, because he might skitter out from behind one. Which means I don’t open the bins. Which means I don’t nibble in the pantry. He does that now.

I also recognized that most of the stuff in the pantry is carbs, and when I want to lose weight, I quit eating carbs. HE still eats carbs – I’m surprised the two I’ve removed so far haven’t weighed 10 pounds each. Perhaps skittering is exercise for him, and it helps him stay slim. So now, I’m eating lots of good healthy proteins, not much processed food, nothing sweet, and I’m losing weight bit by bit. I’m sure it lights a fire under my internal calorie Bunsen burner when I have to approach the pantry (which is also the laundry room) because my blood pressure shoots up like a fountain.

So that’s my story in a nutshell – oh, wait, the mouse has eaten all the nuts. Never mind. My final words of wisdom: if you want to lose weight and you have musophobia (yes, that’s the real term for it), just put a mouse in your pantry. Trust me. Don’t trust the mouse.

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Grand Lake, Colorado. (And by the way, Mr. Man finds mousing beneath him.)

Quote of the Day: “If you can dream it, you can do it. Always remember that this whole thing was started with a dream and a mouse.” —  Walt Disney Company

Daily Gratitudes:
Early treatment for my conjunctivitis
Catfish
Hawks in flight
Metaphorical juggling
MKL

June 2022
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