RBG is here!

We are totally smitten with our darling new girl, RBG! She is such a Ruth, so I don’t know that T will get his way re: Roux, but we’ll see. She is settling in nicely. Nutmeg is thus far largely ignoring her presence. Hope they bond at some point, but I’ll take no vengeance for now!

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Isn’t she delicious? A tiny, velvety soft peanut, such a beautiful grey, purrs like a motor, doesn’t bite, doesn’t scratch, makes air biscuits, and is very tidy. Heaven! The boys are beyond thrilled.

A jumble of thoughts including an act of kindness, winter, and a cat

Today was the first day in ages that I believed winter would, at some point, end. Every year, I reach a breaking point: sick of cold, of wet, of soggy earth, of layers and bundling, of chapped noses, dead grass, and that dreadful gray-white shroud covering the sky. I feel bleak and enervated.

It continues to be revoltingly soggy today- our yard is but a sponge. But after lunch, the sun showed itself and the temperature crept well north of “this just sucks,” and I was able to do some yard work and listen to the birds, and uncover tulip shoots and various other evidences of life, and it felt good. We probably have three or four weeks left of definite chill, but in spotting so many tiny buds today, and that green that only means and rejoices that spring is coming, I was replenished with faith.

After I forced myself in, exhausted from transplanting a large azalea and filling three bins with yard debris, I sat in my library working and looking out front. The kids and Tom were showering, and I was catching up on a bit of work. Out of one window, I saw someone tinkering with the dog-poop bag bin I’d hung from a yield sign in our yard. In all honesty, I assumed the worst: that someone was peevish about my desire to stop neighbors from leaving their dog crap in my gardens and planned to make a statement. Such reactions seem disturbingly common these days. Ugliness, entitlement, rampant examples of “the rules don’t apply to me.” It’s like watching the social contract break down on a daily basis.

So it was the most wonderful surprise when I realized that a neighbor I don’t know terribly well but whose family I am deeply fond of and feel we take care of each other when need be (they checked in so lovingly when Nut was hit; we always talk when they’re out walking their hound; they borrowed our Corn Hole set; I hire their daughter to check in with Nut during days no one is here with him) was repairing my dog waste bag bin and rewriting the message to please clean up which has faded in the past few months. My heart nearly burst with this kindness. An acquaintance noticed that my attempt at hosting a poop-bag station needed tending and took it upon himself to do so. Yes, he and his family always clean up after their dog and they have mentioned being irritated by poop left in their yard, but still. They live several streets down, and I am just so very touched by their attention to community and people with whom they have some connection. It’s lovely to the nth.

Experiences like this are good things, because the news in America is beyond heinous and I feel extremely dismayed on the regular. Sometimes I think all we can do is try and make our immediate communities better: our childrens’ schools, our neighborhood, our workplace friends, our personal friends, the things we value within all that like animals and the environment.

Perhaps because of winter, perhaps the news, perhaps the ascent into my 40s, perhaps having seen some really ugly behavior this year at the macro and micro levels, I find myself more carefully considering with whom and how I spend my time. I have zero interest in competition of any kind; I simply want to keep learning, encourage kindness, laugh, and try to take life’s pace down a notch or ten.

I’ve been using our Instant Pot (y’all try Melissa Clark’s turkey meatloaf with sriracha), loved celebrating Mardi Gras with the kids, and on one of the many recent school days off took the kids and one of Ol’s best pals to R&R in the cat cafe in Georgetown (Crumbs & Whiskers) and its new pop-up, the Kitten Lounge. I am telling you, lounging on plush futons with purring, playful, soft animals is legitimately therapeutic.

I fell in love with a diminutive slate gray lady cat nestled in a basket. So many of the kittens and cats were darling and tugged at our hearts, but this little cha cha really caught me. I said to Jack, “What’s her name?” As he flipped over her tag, I gasped: RBG. Her flipping name is RBG.

People, is there more of a cat for me (other than the one I already have)? There is not. Jack was like, “Mom, start texting Dad.” Obviously, I already was. He actually wore down pretty quickly; I think he knew objecting was a lost cause. Plus, Tom is a sucker for attractive animals, and, as you can see, RBG is a looker.

Right?

We put in an application and headed home, hopeful that Ruth’s adoption would be as simple as was Nutmeg’s.

Nutmeg wondered what was up, post cat cafe, based on my socks.

Nutmeg wondered what was up, post cat cafe, based on my socks.

It really hasn’t been, y’all. We still don’t have the cat. We met her more than a week and a half ago. We have subjected Nut to a blood test to prove that he doesn’t have feline leukemia (even though he is totally current on his vaccines), we have bought everything needed to get ready for Roux (we’re actually naming her Roux Bader Grossi, keeping the RBG but making it our own), and I have done every bit of research I can on introducing new cats to each other. I would not feel so rushed if spring break weren’t approaching and we were leaving. I do not want our poor house sitter to have feline mayhem on her hands.

I know this is ridiculously small-fry, but can we just have our cat?! This bespoke collar, a gift of talent and love from my friend Dakota, awaits.

a kitten-sized dissetn collar

a kitten-sized dissetn collar

I am thrilled to pay for and adopt the cat. OMG, don’t shelter cats need good homes by the millions? I deeply appreciate the thorough placement and thoughtfulness, but I just want my darling girl. We were supposed to get her today, but now it’s Tuesday. Keep your fingers crossed.

In the meantime, be kind. Be generous. Send vibes of warmth and life and goodness.

updates re: the Instant Pot

Friends, So many of you have been veerry enthused about my Instant Pot experiences so far, so I thought I’d share some new recipes and one new accessory that I highly recommend.

Several people waxed rhapsodic about making hardboiled eggs in the IP. Oliver and Tom can clear through a dozen HB eggs in no time flat, but I don’t love boiling them because of shell-cracking and the ridiculously frustrating experience of attempting to peel seemingly super-glue-adhered shells from the egg itself without losing approximately a third of the white. With hope, I bought this stainless stackable egg-steaming rack which can accommodate 14 eggs and fits perfectly in the 6-quart IP.

After four minutes in low pressure, we had gloriously light and fluffy hard-”boiled” eggs whose shells released easily. This is a game changer, y’all.

Secondly, I have, since last writing, made two additional recipes from the Melissa Clark book, Comfort in an Instant, that I recommend to you enthusiastically, the first especially.

  1. Red Wine Brisket with Prunes

  2. Chocolate-Bourbon Lava Cakes

Prunes, wine, bay leaves, cinnamon, and beef are a mighty fine combination of flavors, y’all. That brisket was tender as can be and the carrots were like my Nanny’s used to be in the roasts she’d cook: they still looked like carrots in terms of holding shape, but they could almost be spread by a knife, so tender were they. I don’t think I’ve made the boys brisket before, and they are now huge fans. Plus, the leftovers are great.

For Valentine’s Day dessert, I made the chocolate lava cakes, long one of Tom’s favorite treats. They were really easy to put together and took just 9 minutes to cook and 3 to rest. Oliver thought they were heavenly; Jack didn’t like them, but he generally doesn’t like cake or oozy stuff so I wasn’t surprised. The texture was vaguely rubbery but, oddly, not really in a bad way. None of us could taste the bourbon, but that’s fine.

And just to get my non-IP cooking life on, I also made a gumbo. It’s always a good time for gumbo, and this one was superb.

Just look at that roux as it browns. Et voilà!

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