Have a Crazy, Catty Christmas

December 21, 2012

By Max

This year, we’re getting real. Our Christmas tree didn’t come out of a box in the closet. Karen went out and killed this one. She wanted the house to smell like Christmas.

(Adele footnote: It really came from Home Depot. I saw the receipt.)

(Adele footnote: It really came from Home Depot. I saw the receipt.)

What’s even better, it’s just my size!

Its little branches can hold only a few ornaments, so we dug out the best —our own personal ones, of course — and those of the late Fred and Yul. I’m told those guys loved Christmas.

I helped decorate.

We also hung bells. Lots of bells. Those were NOT my idea.

We also hung bells. Lots of bells. Those were NOT my idea.

(Unfortunately, the camera flash doesn’t let you see how beautiful the tree is all lit up, so here’s another shot.)

Colored lights make it look like a giant cat toy.

Colored lights make it look like a giant cat toy.

Unfortunately, this tree has almost no smell at all. I check it every day.

Sniff… sniff… Nope, must not be Christmas yet.

Sniff… sniff… Nope, must not be Christmas yet.

Karen hung our stockings on the chimney with care, but she still hasn’t found a better alternative to all the stupid buttons on mine. So she let me raid her jewelry box and jazz it up with all her cat bling.

Adele is pea-green with envy.

Adele is pea-green with envy.

Once all the presents were in place, Cole conducted an inspection, found our section, and declared it a ColeZone. He’s taken a special interest in one sweet little parcel wrapped in red tissue paper.

Every Christmas tree needs a guard cat to watch the presents. Cole parks himself on that red one like a mother hen.

Every Christmas tree needs a guard cat to watch the presents. Cole parks himself on that red one like a mother hen.

Adele should go to work for the TSA. I think she must already know what Cole’s red present is.

Who needs a body scanner when you have claws?

Who needs a body scanner when you have claws?

Adele also became suspicious of a green present for our cousin Noel and wasted no time making sure Karen wasn’t trying to smuggle desirable flavors of Fancy Feast out of the house.

Hallelujah! Noel’s getting all our yucky Turkey & Giblets!

Hallelujah! Noel’s getting all our yucky Turkey & Giblets!

Me, I’m more interested in the tree. How often does a cat get a piece of the forest in his own living room? The only thing better would be if Karen invited my squirrel from the deck inside.

Good thing Karen used sturdy boxes, or somebody’d be having a smashed Christmas.

Good thing Karen used sturdy boxes, or somebody’d be having a smashed Christmas.

I’m looking forward to the Cats Working traditions of a special breakfast and playing with whatever Santa Kitty brings us, then settling back with treats and fresh ‘nip to watch Video Catnip.

It’s a wonderful life.

Adele, Cole, Karen, and I hope Santa Kitty is good to you and your kitties and you have holidays you’ll fondly remember.

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Virginia’s Redneck Response to Newtown

December 19, 2012

By Cole

The front page of today’s Richmond Times-Dispatch proclaimed that Virginia’s Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, thinks a remedy for school massacres might be to arm the adults.

OK, Bob, let’s step through a few possible scenarios…

If killers know that principals are likely to have a gun in their office, they’ll just head straight for the classrooms. After seeing this week’s tsunami of grief over the horrific deaths of 20 little kids, these sick creeps know the classroom is where they can get the most “bang for their buck” anyway.

You suggested that teachers who already have concealed weapons permits be trained and bring their pieces into the classroom. So now you’ve got all the kids spending every day in a room with a loaded gun.

(Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s no different from home, where Dad keeps an arsenal in the china cabinet. But that doesn’t make it right.)

And with background checks being so reliable and thorough (NOT), are you willing to guarantee that every gun-owning teacher can be trusted not to snap and go postal on the class that disrespects and defies authority once too often?

So the teacher keeps the gun locked in his desk. Then a gunman suddenly walks in and starts spraying the room with bullets. Before the teacher can get to his gun, he’s dead.

And since teachers can’t be in their classrooms 24/7, what’s to keep an enterprising little lock-picker from getting to the gun and wasting the classmates who just bullied him in the lunchroom?

Let’s say the teacher DOES reach the gun in time during an attack. Will he always be enough of a sharpshooter to bring down the killer while his students are running around in pandemonium?

How do you think the country will take it when some vigilante teacher accidentally mows down some of his own students? In essence, having a gun makes him the killer’s accomplice.

I wish the NRA zombies would clean the lint out of their heads and recognize that more guns is never the solution for a society craving PEACE.


Response to Newtown Incomprehensible — Yet Predictable

December 17, 2012

By Cole

Twenty little kids and 6 adults get mowed down by a deranged punk, giving 26 families the gift of burying their bullet-riddled loved ones at Christmas, and it only takes 2 days for Republicans to say the way to end the senseless butchery is…

MORE GUNS.

Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett thinks schools should be armed.

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) “wished to God” that the principal had an M-4 assault rifle so she could have taken Adam Lanza’s “head off” before he killed her.

I bet the NRA is raining bribes on its Congressional lackeys to advocate target practice for kindergarteners so they can learn to defend themselves (and grow up to be gun-owners).

The irony is lost on them that Adam’s mother, Nancy, collected guns and taught her son to shoot so he could pump Mom’s head full of lead with her own weapon before he traipsed off with more of her guns to commit a massacre.

Yes, it certainly makes sense to put more guns in homes. NOT.

The FBI reports gun sales at an all-time high, yet gun ownership is in decline, which means Nancy Lanza types are on the rise.

President Obama seems sufficiently shaken up by this latest atrocity to confront this problem head-on.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) intends to introduce legislation to reinstate the assault weapons ban.

Even the NRA’s darling Democratic senator, Joe Manchin (D-WVa), is willing to consider banning assault weapons.

It’s a start, but the country needs a seismic culture shift. In addition to choking off the free flow of weapons to anybody who wants one…

The media can stop glorifying murderous scum with 24/7 coverage of their carnage.

We need to recognize that young adults are oblivious to violence. They see it on TV (real and scripted) and in movies. They practice mass murder in video games. Horrors of greater magnitude than Newtown happen daily around the world — and American kids have no clue. Just like Mom and Dad.

ALL adults need to regain their sense of outrage at violence — for sport or otherwise — and start doing something about it.

They need to gather up and destroy as many weapons as they can. They need to lock up the bullets — or tax the hell out of them so to shoot anything means missing a mortgage or car payment.

People need to put down the smartphones and stop ignoring or shrugging off the potential killers and their copycats. The signs are almost always there. These nuts need to be taken out of circulation.

Every time we have a Columbine, a Virginia Tech, an Aurora, a Newtown, and people do nothing but light candles, cry, and pray (and re-elect politicians who’d rather have regular massacres than give up their right to carry double-barreled penis extensions), Americans show the world what a bunch of craven, ignorant barbarians we are.

Without drastic gun control NOW, Washington may as well can the debate over the fiscal cliff and the future of this country. It won’t have one.


Christmas Shopping for Your Cat

December 11, 2012

By Max

It’s only my second Christmas, but many kitties leap out of bed eagerly on Christmas morning, only to find all the best stuff under the tree is for the humans. So here are some pointers on how to make your cat happy this Christmas.

First, let’s narrow it down by what NOT to buy…

Collars – Since a collar is the feline equivalent of underwear (except in Adele’s case; her sparkly collars qualify as bling), never let a collar be your cat’s ONLY present. We will accept a collar graciously on condition that something better is coming.

Toys from “off-brand” retailers – Not to knock the great bargains at Dollar Tree, Big Lots, and Ollie’s, but the last thing a cat wants is toys sparsely stuffed with low-grade ‘nip that made their way here on a slow boat from China. And they usually have cheesy little beads or bits of felt we’ll immediately tear off and swallow so you can spend Christmas Day bestowing a fortune on the emergency vet.

Battery-powered toys – If you don’t plan to be around 24/7 to keep them running, don’t bother. Learn from Karen’s mistakes…

At least they have each other.

At least they have each other.

Grooming tools – Would you be thrilled to receive a gift that pulls your fur out? No, I didn’t think so. Cats consider flea combs and Furminators instruments of torture, not presents.

And now to what kitties REALLY want…

Anything on a stick – Toys on a stick are great because they make you play with us. There’s nothing better on Christmas morning than sitting under the tree watching you trying to get us to chase you and our new toy. It’s HILARIOUS! Our stick toys helped Karen run laps and lose that weight.

These are a few of my favorite (stick) things...

These are a few of my favorite (stick) things…

Refillable ‘nip toys – Our toys from Cat Claws with tummies that rip open for fresh ‘nip are an excellent investment because they last forever. Karen estimates gray “Rowdy Rat” is about 25 years old. Here’s how he looked new.

Sneaky Snake is also an antiquel.

Sneaky Snake is also an antique.

Crinkly, sparkly toys – These balls crunch and catch the light (and our attention). They’re perfect for batting practice.

Since most of them end up under the couch, it's good to have spares.

Since most of them end up under the couch, it’s good to have spares.

Beds – Soft, deep, and cozy, please. Even homemade, like this one Adele is demonstrating, we’ll be touched that you cared about our comfort. It’s the thought that counts.

Adele resting after running me out of Karen's office.

Adele resting after running me out of Karen’s office.

One Christmas, Karen thought Adele would LOVE this furry bed/tunnel. WRONG!

One Christmas, Karen thought Adele would LOVE this furry bed/tunnel. WRONG!

Video Catnip – A perennial favorite. It’s light on plot, with birds, squirrels, and chipmunks hanging out on somebody’s deck, but strangely addictive.

We also have The Adventures of Freddy Fish (which I couldn’t find online, so it may be out of print), but since the only fish we ever see is ground up in Fancy Feast®, we can’t relate and give it 12 paws down.

Stuff to scratch – We are cats of simple tastes, and slabs of thick corrugated cardboard (spiked with a fine ‘nip) work for us. Or you can get fancy with carpet-covered posts and perches. (We have 3 of those, too.)

Cole and I hoping Adele won't storm and repossess her perch.

Cole and I hoping Adele won’t storm and repo her perch.

Boxes, gift bags, wrapping paper, and bows – Christmas morning freebies that are some cats’ favorite things EVER. Don’t be too quick to clean up, because your “mess” is our playground.

Karen gave me a personal tree as a test. So far, I'm passing. It's still standing.

Karen gave me a personal tree as a test. So far, I’m passing. It’s still standing.


UnFoodie Masters a Mean Frittata

December 5, 2012

By Karen

Breakfast is problematic for me because 1) I’m a Weight Watcher and don’t want to start the day blowing a lot of points, 2) I don’t want to put a lot of work into it, and 3) I get bored easily.

One recent Sunday morning, I was sick to death of eating one pale scrambled egg with 2 whites (3 points), when I got the brilliant idea to make a frittata. A big frittata I could eat all week.

I threw a mess of chopped veggies into a Pam-coated 9-inch cast-iron skillet. You can use whatever vegetables you like. This time, it was baby bello mushrooms, a zucchini, red onion, and red bell pepper.

Frittata1

While the veggies cooked, I preheated the oven to 350° and beat 6 whole eggs.

(Usually, I add ½ cup of 2% shredded cheddar to the eggs, but I was so busy taking pictures, I forgot the cheese. I did sprinkle it on top before reheating the leftovers later and it was almost just as good.)

I used the cast-iron skillet because once the veggies were cooked, I poured the egg on them and placed the whole thing in the oven, but you can use any kind of baking dish. I do anything I can to minimize dish-washing.

It bakes for about 20 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when it’s all puffy. Let it go flat again before you cut in to it.

Frittata2

I divided it into quarters, which makes for good-sized servings. If you include the cheese, each quarter is only 4 WW points.

I stack the extra pieces between waxed paper and store them in the fridge. They reheat great on a piece of foil in the toaster oven at 350° for 20 minutes. But you could microwave them. I prefer the way the oven browns the cheese.

So that only leaves 3 days of the week to improvise. If you’re looking for ideas, here are my usual options. If you have more, please share them!

  • fruit alone – blueberries, strawberries, banana, apple, orange – 0 points
  • ½ cup Kashi® Go Lean® cereal with ½ container of plain Dannon Oikos® Greek yogurt (blech! — but flavor adds a point) topped with fruit – 3 points
  • ¼-cup (dry) steel-cut oatmeal with ½ tsp. Smart Balance® butter spread – 4 points
  • 2 whole-grain Eggo waffles with fresh fruit on top (no syrup) – 5 points
  • 2 tbsp. Better’n Peanut Butter on a thin sandwich roll – 5 points
  • 16 Wheat Thins with 2 tbsp. Sabra hummus – 5 points
  • 1 oz. smoked salmon on a thin bagel with 1 oz. light cream cheese, onions, and capers – 6 points

Dropped a Pail of Tidy Cats on Weight Watchers

December 3, 2012

By Karen

Part 7 — Lose Inches, Regain Yourself

I buy 35-lb. pails of Tidy Cats® litter for the Cats Working crew, and it takes every bit of strength to get them from store shelf > shopping cart > car trunk > litterboxes.

After 27 weeks on Weight Watchers®, I have dropped 36 lbs.

And I’m wondering how on earth I, or anybody else, manages to tote around an extra load like that — or more — every day without dropping dead?

From 177 lbs., I’m down to 141 and, according to Weight Watchers, am no longer overweight.

(A recent Gallup survey found 62.8% adult Americans overweight or obese. It’s good to be in the minority.)

I can’t wait to see my doctor’s face (or even better, his skinny nurse who weighs me. She won’t be flinging that 150-lb. weight across the scale with mad abandon anymore.)

The sofa covers and circus tents comprising my wardrobe have begun migrating from my closet. In clothing stores, I beat a wide path around the “Women’s Dept.” (i.e., fat clothes) with the same aversion rabid ex-smokers have perfected toward anybody who lights up.

(Catherine’s Plus Sizes, delete me from your mailing list. You’ll never see me again!)

Before I get too carried away, 141 is still more than I ever weighed before I even began all previous diets, so I’ve still got a ways to go.

When I hit 100 lbs. at age 20, I felt fat even though I wore size 5. I’ll never be that thin again, but it just goes to show how all the sick messages we’re hammered with will distort our body image.

Now that I’ve seen myself truly fat, I’ve gained perspective, and don’t aspire to become a stringy old stick figure.

I’ve lost nearly 9 inches each from my bust and waist, and 6 inches from my hips. For the first time in my 50s, I look in the mirror with hope and pleasure (instead of dread and loathing) because my former non-fat self is peeking back.

The past 6 months counting points have been no picnic, but it worked. Wearing something attractive trumps the fleeting satisfaction of cramming decadent and fattening food into my face.

I have added one square of Lindt chocolate a day to the menu and I don’t count the points. I actually think it’s helping. In just the week since Thanksgiving (when I ate out twice and really went off the rails, although not at all with “bad” stuff), I’ve lost 2.8 lbs.

You just have to tackle it one day at a time and never give up.


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