Need Cat Advice

Okay, peeps--what's your experience here? New Kitty is having some problems. She arrived last Tuesday, and now nearly a week later, she's still extremely sky and skittish. In fact, she vanishes to the point where we thought she must have gotten out and run away. A few days ago, we turned the house upside-down and finally found her huddling in a dark basement corner. I put her in one of the bathrooms alone for a couple more days, with occasional peaking in on her, and she finally let me pet her and even purred and licked my hand, but the moment she got out of the bathroom, she vanished completely and has not been seen once in two more days.
When I first met her, I noticed her right ear was clipped. I recognized this as part of the catch-spay-mark-release program for feral cats and asked the cat agency about it. The cat lady said New Kitty and her brother were found outdoors and caught, but they were clearly used to humans, so they weren't put into the barn cat category. Both New Kitty and her brother let me pet and hold them, though they were both nervous about it, which I expected in a strange cat stuck in a weird environment.
However, after nearly a week in her new home, New Kitty still hides obsessively. I've had more than a dozen cats of all stripes in my life, and I've never seen this--except among the feral barn cats we (unsuccessfully) brought into the house and tried to tame. New Kitty never, ever comes out of hiding on her own. Ever. She hasn't eaten that I can tell. The litter is stirred around, but that might be from Dinah.
Every other cat I've had hides for a while, but eventually creeps out for cautious exploring, and eventually gives the humans some wary sniffing. Not New Kitty.
Has she gone feral? Did the shock of rehoming freak her out too badly? Will she eventually come around? Has anyone else seen this before? Or should I call the cat people and tell them they gave me a feral cat?

New Cat

We finally have a new cat.

It was an unexpectedly laborious process.  The cat rehousing people (I don't like calling it an adoption--adoption is for human beings) wanted three references, the name of my veterinarian, and a signed contract stating, among other things, that they could enter my house to inspect it any time over the next four years.  What are you, the Gestapo?  Seriously, people--it's a cat. It's not a human child.  It's a freakin' cat. I changed the inspection clause to remove its teeth and crossed out a few other clauses.  (One read, "I understand cats are animals and that they do not react the same way human beings do."  No, really?)

I also had to promise to send them vet records showing I did regular vet visits for the next four years.  Sure.  I'll get right on that.

In reality, though, I think they'll forget about it.  Lots of other cats to rescue, you know.

Anyway, we now have a new kitty.  She's a black shorthair, about 10 months old, and extremely shy.  We put her in one of the bathrooms with her own litter box, food dishes, and a cat bed the cat lady said she used a lot.  We put the cat bed in the tub.  The first day, new kitty refused to leave her cat bed.  She let us pet her, but she didn't respond.  After a couple hours, we let Dinah into the bathroom.  Dinah sniffed her way up to the tub, peeked over the edge, hissed once, and stalked away.

The second night, we left the bathroom door cracked open.  In the morning, new kitty had vanished.  Later, we found her in various hiding places--under the bed, behind the dryer.  Each time we found her, she moved to a different hiding place.

Dinah's personality instantly changed, which I find interesting.  When she's the lone cat in the house, she's Needy Kitty, Greedy Kitty, demanding attention and petting, to the point where it gets annoying.  You can have her on your lap for an entire two-hour movie or a three-hour nap, and the moment you get up, she demands more attention.  But whenever there's a second cat in the house, she becomes quiet and reserved.  Right now, she's sitting on top of the cat tree, surveying the house.  Watching.  That other cat is here somewhere, and damned if she's going to let it get away with anything!

We're thinking of names.  The cat's original name was Little Black, which we don't like.  Darwin has plumped for "Fraidy," since she's so shy, but I don't know.  We'll have to think some more.

Spring Break Plague

The reason I haven't posted much here lately is that I got the Spring Break Plague.  How much does that bite?  Saturday evening I started coughing and feeling a little off.  By Sunday morning, I was full-blown sick.  I have been all week.

What's worse is that my mother was supposed to come down for a nice visit, and we had to cancel.  Not only was I not up to it, we didn't want her catching it as well.

So I've been slouching around the house, watching TV, reading, and sleeping all week.  At least the weather has been crappy, too.  It would be even worse to have great weather and be too sick to enjoy it!


I was reluctant to give up LiveJournal. I've been there for years and years. It's easy to use, has a nice community, and has many convenient features I like.

But then it was bought out by Mother Russia. Since I didn't feel comfortable handing over my credit information to someone named Boris in Moskow, I stopped using my credit card to pay for my account and started making one-shot payments with PayPal instead. But then we got the new "privacy" statement that basically said, "This new statement lets us do anything we want, and since we're in Russia, what are you going to do about it?"

So now I'm over here: https://stevenpiziks.dreamwidth.org/ Come subscribe to me!

I'll mirror here at LJ for a little bit longer, but Dreamwidth is my home now. It needs some paint and new carpeting and a different kitchen, but I'm good!

Pull up a chair and join the conversation.


Over the weekend, Darwin and I went to another escape room.  This one had a steampunk theme to it.  The "room" was actually an Airstream trailer furnished and decorated with antiques from the late 1800s.  What fun!  There were six of us in all.  We solved puzzles and unlocked locks.  I found a fiendishly-hidden key.  The minutes ticked down.  At ten minutes left, we started to get nervous, and at five minutes, we were panicking.  With two minutes left, we got the final lock open.  Success!


Beauty, Revisited

Darwin and I finally saw BEAUTY AND THE BEAST.  My thoughts:

--Emma Watson isn't a great singer. Her voice is quite weak compared to Paige O'Hara. Come to that, none of the cast members has a standout voice, except the opera singer lady. I don't really want the album, as a result.

--They plugged a number of plot holes in this version, including why the villagers seem to have no idea an enchanted castle inhabited by a monstrous beast is within easy walking distance of their village; why the enchantress punished the castle's inhabitants as well as the prince; and why the village seems to enjoy summer weather, but the castle lives in winter.

--They used more material from the original fairy tale, including Belle's father cutting a rose from the Beast's garden.

--LeFou was clearly in love with Gaston throughout this movie.  I'm still not happy with Disney for handing us a villain as our first LGBT character, despite the fact that (SPOILER) LeFou redeems himself by the end. The final scene ticked me off all over again.  All the media outlets reported that LeFou would dance for a moment with a man, and he does--but first he dances with TWO women.

--We had a moment of gay panic mixed with a transgender moment.  During the seige of the castle, the wardrobe attacks three of the villagers by stuffing them into elaborate women's outfits.  (This happens in the original movie as well, but with just one man.)  Two of the villagers are so freaked out by being men in dresses that they run away.  (Gay panic!)  The third man realizes he likes the look and sashays away instead.  I wasn't as happy about that aspect as I should have been because the whole thing was played for laughs.  Trans people are played as objects of comedy and ridicule, you see.  I'm surprised the right-wing nutbags didn't say anything about this--the scene actually lasts longer than LeFou's dance with another man.

--This movie's version of "Gaston" is actually superior to the original.

--The French Renaissance baroque style of decoration for Cogsworth, Mrs. Potts, and Lumiere are intricate and incredibly detailed, but ultimately it's difficult to make out details because facial features--eyes, mouths, noses, etc.--are so tiny.  And Mrs. Potts reminded me of that toy plastic phone from Toy Story 3.  She seems more like a windup toy.  It's cute, though, they way have Chip use his saucer like a skateboard.

--They definitely didn't change the main theme of the movie: it's a woman's responsibility to rehabilitate an abusive man by loving him so much that he'll change from a beast into a kind, handsome prince.  It made me squirm in my seat to watch Emma Watson start to fawn on the guy who, moments ago, screamed at her, pounded on her door, and ordered her locked in her room to starve.  Let the wolves have him, girl!

Overall?  The movie was done well, but I can't recommend it because of the themes and its poor treatment of LGBT people. Try harder, Disney.

The Biggest Cookbook in the Whole Wide World

Every so often I'll see a TV show or movie that mentions a food I've never heard of.  Since I'm Adventure Chef, I get intrigued and wonder how to make the food and what it tastes like.  Back in the Old Days, this would take considerable research.  I'd have to ask friends if any of them had made it, or go to the library and look up cookbooks from the culture.  It would take hours or even days.

Nowadays?  Easy!  The Internet is the biggest cookbook in the whole wide world.

Recently, for example, I heard a reference to tres leches cake (three-milk cake), an hispanic treat.  The name sounded interesting, and I wanted to see what it was about, so I just checked Google.  I found several recipes that ranged from overly simple ("take one box of yellow cake mix...") to foolishly complicated ("after the custard has cooled for at least three hours in the dry ice, slice all six cake layers in half with a silver-plated knife sharpened under a full moon...")

Basically, tres leches cake is made with three kinds of milk: regular mlk, condensed milk, and evaporated milk.  The first two milks go into the cake batter.  The third is used to make a pseudo custard that your pour over the baked cake, which soaks it up like a sponge to make everything rich and moist.  Whipped cream, technically a fourth milk, is used to frost it.  The great debate about tres leches cake is whether or not it's worth the effort to separate the eggs and beat them separately or not.

I grabbed a middle-of-the road recipe, complexity-wise, and went to work.  Yes, I separated the eggs.  I baked the cake in a square pan and then realized if I poured the soaking filling over it, the filling would overflow.  What to do, what to do?  I finally removed the cake from the pan, put it in a 9x12 pan, and poured the filling over it.  To ensure the filling wouldn't pudde in the vacant half of the pan, I set the pan on a tilt with a trivet and left the whole thing on the back porch for chilling.  Then I whipped some whipping cream and sugar and frosted it.

Whoo, it was good.  But rich!  A small piece is plenty!  Maksim and Aran loved it and ate it steadily for snacks until it had vanished.

All thanks to the biggest cookbook in the whole wide world!

Moving Dad

My father needed moving.  His then-current relationship ended, but the house was only hers, which meant he had to move out.  He was living with his brother temporarily, and finally he found a small apartment up in Saginaw.  But Dad is in his 70s and has mobility problems and couldn't move by himself.  And so my brother Paul and I went up to handle it this weekend.

This is the problem when you have a truck--you're stuck helping people move.

As moves go, this wasn't =too= bad.  Very little furniture was involved.  Dad had arranged for a couch and love seat to be delivered, so the only furniture we had to move was a small kitchen table and chairs and a rocking chair.  This is good--I'm fifty years old and at my age, I don't move furniture.  I hire people to move furniture for me and watch them work, thanks.

Anyway, Paul and I met up at Dad's brother's house and loaded his belongings into the truck and hauled them over to the new apartment.  The place is very nice--bright, airy, balcony, fantastic eighth-floor view of farms and woods.  Paul and I approved.

We hogged one of the elevators and got everything upstairs, then went out to Dad's storage unit for the rest of his stuff, and hauled that up.  Dad didn't have a bed, so we called around and found a furniture store that was open in downtown Saginaw.  Here's where we needed the truck for sure!  We got a basic bed, squeezed it into the elevator, and set it up in the apartment.

Paul and I left Dad in the apartment and went to Meijer, a 24-hour grocery and department store, where we bought a bunch of basic apartment stuff Dad didn't have.  It was like setting up a college freshman in a new dorm!  Dad can drive and shop on his own, but he's literally never lived on his own in his entire life, and there's a bunch of stuff it would simply never occur to him to buy until he actually needed it (like a shower curtain, bath mat, spray cleaner, etc.).  So we got him those things, along with a few groceries to get him through a couple-three days.  This we delivered back to the apartment.

I put sheets on the bed while Paul whipped his computer together (no Internet yet--he'll have to do that on his own later) and helped Dad put the food away.  Then we set up the bathroom.

By now it was 9:30, and we were exhausted.  The only thing we didn't do that was on our list was get him a dresser.  Well, you can't get everything done.

Now he's safely ensonced in his new place, with a lot of unpacking to do to keep him busy!  :)