Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Hello My Little Pony

Crazy Cat Ladies

Last summer The Man and I visited our North County animal shelter to adopt a pair of outdoor cats. We were quickly shown the door. Little did we know that all of the cats, their cats, were indoor only. The look of horror on the face of the young woman helping us when I said "outdoor" made me wonder if she thought I said "BBQ". The young Cat Woman went to the office to get someone else to help us.

The Head Honcho Cat Lady came out to tell us that they didn't have any cats that would like living outdoors. We looked around at the cats lounging on their pillows, in an air-conditioned wonderland, and The Man asked, "How can you tell?" Her reply, "An outdoor cat wouldn't like being inside." Oh.

It was a disturbing experience and I left feeling like I was a bad person, a bad cat mama, because I would allow my cats to live outdoors.

In the months following I replied to a few Craigslist ads that were advertising outdoor cats in need of new homes. I offered to provide a good home to one, two, and even three cats. Unfortunately, it turns out there's crazy cat ladies out there who wanted me to adopt them along with their cats. Eventually I gave up and The Man helped me store my cat items back in the attic.

Fall and winter came and went. As the weather warmed up I started thinking about cats again. The need for a good mouser was everywhere: mouse traps were in the garage, the barn, and our cars. The Man warned you when you got into his truck, "Watch your toes", then he'd move the unsprung mouse trap away from your feet. In the barn soft nests were found under motorcycle seats, and in the garage acorns were found in shoes on the shoe rack. Each morning the animals' water buckets had to be emptied and cleaned because of the field mice that had drowned overnight. In the evening I would watch mice scurrying across the garage floor. We needed a cat.

I'm a Crazy Cat, Lady

It's been five weeks since we adopted two male cats from North County Paws Cause. The two boys had been at Woods Humane Society for several months and they were being "moved out" from the no-kill shelter. Ellen, a volunteer with Paws Cause, was contacted by Woods to find an alternate home - a safe barn or ranch home - for these two boys.

Ellen and I had spoken on the phone and she was aware of our situation. On the same day we spoke Ellen visited Woods to check out the two boys. She reported back that she thought they would be a good match for us and our environment. She gave me a heads up that the orange tabby "was in an isolated cage because he was too stressed with the noise and number of humans coming and going at the shelter". I noticed his picture and description was not posted on Wood's website.

Ellen arrived promptly at 11am after picking up the cats from Woods. The Man had been hesitant to have a stranger come to our home. The Man and I were reassured that Ellen didn't look crazy but we could see that her cats were. Through the clear plexiglass cat carrier we came face to face with a very angry orange cat who had bloodied his face and the inside of the carrier trying to get out. We watched him lunging at the thick plastic walls, snarling and growling at us the entire time. Undaunted I thought, hmmm, this guy's name is going to be Rudy, short for Rudolph the red-nosed cat. As Ellen carefully transferred Rudy into the chain link kennel we had set up in the garage a My Little Pony toy fell out of his carrier.

We got only a fleeting glance at the other cat before he burrowed under the heated pet pad. He was named Buddy at the shelter, it's a good name, Buddy it is.

Kitty Rehab

The days passed slowly as I took care of the new animals. Ellen had warned us it would take awhile for these two under-socialized over-stressed cats to acclimate to their new home and we should expect to have them enclosed for four to six weeks. She also suggested I wear gloves when I was near them. I tried but it made my cat chores too clumsy. Instead I moved slowly and carefully within the 5'x5'x4' wire enclosure. I kept my hands away from their houses even though the boys remained hidden beneath their bedding.

Every evening I sat next to their wire enclosure and read out loud to them. Eventually Rudy stopped growling at me. It took a week before Buddy would remain in view instead of hiding under his pet pad. On the tenth day they were released out of the kennel to wander freely in the enclosed garage. I was surprised at their size as I stroked their thin backs; at two years old I thought they would've been sturdier.

Learning Cat Skillz

On the seventeenth day they went outside, it was the day after Buddy went berserk. Everything had been going swimmingly, they were gentle with me but more importantly they were bonding with one another, even sleeping together. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary until I turned to see Buddy with his hackles up, his ears flat, his tail huge and fluffed out, and ready to attack Rudy. He hissed and snarled as if he didn't recognize his friend. He was clearly not playing. As I waited for Buddy to calm down I replayed what could've happened: the cats were playing together ... I was moving my bike ... I hit something ... there was a loud bang ... Buddy went berserk. I quickly Googled "Sudden Aggression in Cats" and read that it could be Fear Aggression from a loud noise. Oops. When it was obvious that they might hurt one another I locked Rudy in the kennel and separated them for the night.

The next day I let Rudy out of the kennel into the garage and for the first 3 minutes it was okay before Buddy turned on Rudy again. This time Buddy went in the kennel. I fed them additional wet canned food for breakfast and put their bowls side by side separated by the chain link wire. They could look but not touch.

The Man and my friend Sandee suggested perhaps it was time to let them out, maybe they were going stir-crazy. Rudy left the garage first, then Buddy was released from the kennel. They were so busy exploring their bigger wider world they forgot to battle one another.

Nowadays the boys spend their daylight hours outside, still sleeping in the garage at night. They come when I call them and they've learned to maneuver nonchalantly (for the most part) through the gauntlet of goats, dogs, and chickens.

The boys are still settling in, but so far so good, I'm glad they're here.

To Ellen ~
Thank you for all that you do.
Lynn, Buddy, & Rudy

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Yumminess All Around

The stormy weather of the last few days have moved out of the area making way for clear cool skies. It was a good gentle rain, yes, some flooding but no catastrophic incidents to our neighbors south. The evacuation orders for Santa Barbara/Montecito were lifted Thursday afternoon.

Closer to home our rain gauge filled to over 4½ inches - the most rain we've seen this year. The local newspaper recapped the last few days: "A 'Minor Miracle March' rescues SLO County from one of the driest winters on record".

Me thinks it's time to celebrate with Sriracha Hummus and freshly baked sourdough crackers.

Thank you to Sandee for the Sriracha Hummus, it's so yummy.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Running on Pineapple

Yesterday we welcomed the first day of spring under cloudy skies and light rain. We were seeing the front end of the Pineapple Express - the tropical atmospheric river - expected to sweep through our area for the next several days. The weather forecast calls for enough rain to help ease our drought parched SLO county but also causing dangerous conditions and further evacuations south of us in Santa Barbara county. In January, fast falling rain in the fire-ravaged hills above the towns of Santa Barbara and Montecito caused death and destruction from debris flows, flash floods, and landslides.

The rain this week is a bittersweet blessing.


As I hunker down indoors my thoughts turn to cooking and food. More specifically I'm thinking about sourdough, my sourdough - the wild yeast starter I concocted three months ago that now lives in my refrigerator. And I'm thinking to myself, It's probably hungry I better feed it before it dies.

Here's the backstory: Last December my neighbor Lois gave me her copy of Saveur magazine, (Dec/Jan 2018). I enjoyed the stories about people, food, and culture. And I liked reading Lois' comments scattered throughout the magazine.

So anyway I came across an article about making sourdough starter with whole wheat flour, filtered water, and pineapple juice. Hmmm, I've got whole wheat flour and I've got canned pineapples in unsweetened juice. I did a little more in-depth reading (Debra Wink: Part 1 & Part 2) and found the process interesting, you know, like a science project. The experiment began 12/16/17.

On the fireplace mantel, warmest spot in the house.

Sourdough bread: Fail
The bread was dense and inedible. I think the starter wasn't mature enough to make bread. So I made crackers instead.

Sourdough crackers

Sourdough starter: Fail
Had problems transitioning the starter from whole wheat flour to all-purpose flour. The good critters died (no healthy bubbling) and bad nasty mold took over. Ahem, also, I may have gone too long between feedings and starved the poor yeasty critters.

This is good: happy healthy sourdough starter bubbling and smelling yeasty.

 This is bad: lifeless sourdough starter with mold growing.

By the end of January I figured out a feeding schedule to keep the starter alive and happy. Every few weeks I do a "refresh". I take One Cup of starter and "discard" the rest. Then I add One Cup of whole wheat flour, ½ Cup filtered water, mix it all up, put it in a clean jar, and stick it back in the fridge.

Then with the discarded starter I make crackers. Although making crackers is not hard, it's not a quick process, the dough needs 6 hours to rest. I've found that making crackers over two days works the best for me. On the first day (right after feeding and divvying up the starter) I measure and mix the cracker dough, let it rest for 6 hours, then put it in the refrigerator overnight. The next day I take it out of the fridge, roll it, bake it, and eat it.


I only sprinkle a wee bit of sugar and salt on the crackers. It doesn't need much when you're dipping it in hummus.

My sourdough starter has never been happier. Look, it just about overflowed it's 1½ pint mason jar! It was last fed at the beginning of the month and last week I noticed that all of a sudden it's volume had doubled. If it gets any happier I will need to get a larger jar.

So that's the story of my sourdough experiment. All it took to create a starter was whole wheat flour, water, and a bit of pineapple juice. Oh, and a whole lot of time. Maybe one of these days I'll try making bread, but for now we're happy with the homemade crackers.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Welcome Inn

Oh, sorry, no vacancies here.

Sorry, we're full up too.

Vacancies here.

Welcome, we've been expecting you.

Monday, February 26, 2018

PJs and Parkas

Pajamas and parkas were the attire of choice early Thursday morning. It was just before 6 am, barely daybreak, and 30 degrees outside. The freezing cold blew right through our clothes.

The dogs refused to participate in our predawn activities. C'mon Girls, let's go, Mattie, Mele, let's go outside, woohoo everybody, let's go, c'mon Girls, c'mon. The dogs didn't budge from their heated beds, I knew they heard me, I saw their ears twitch.

The Man and I were outside to watch a rocket launch. The launch was postponed from the weekend and then again on Wednesday due to unfavorable winds. Too bad we didn't check the news feed before we all traipsed outside the previous morning, it was 29°.

Luckily Thursday's launch went off perfectly.

SpaceX Falcon 9, PAZ Mission 
Thursday, February 22, 2018 06:17 PST
(Zoom pics by The Man)


Another great SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch from Vandenberg AFB.

Best of all, we didn't have long to wait.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

February Making

I enjoy the process of knitting, spinning, cooking, and making. But when it comes to completing the projects - the finishing, the hemming, weaving in ends, not so much. I find it oh-so-tedious.

With our unseasonably warm and dry weather I've been spending time outside, completing projects, and getting stuff done.

Charity knitting tagged and ready to be mailed.

CCW Scarf Challenge

Scarf #1, colors: Cerise, Chocolate, Waterfall, and Wine, mohair yarn.

Scarf #2, colors: Cerise, Carrot, and Walnut, Malabrigo sock yarn.

It's funny that it all seems so much better when you can be outdoors.