Sunday, December 27, 2009


Rutgers Gardens has a large holly collection.

I’ve driven by it many times, but never taken the time to photograph it. The hollies with yellow berries intrigue me.

As you can see, the light was terrible this afternoon. Harsh, washing out all of the colors. I had terrible trouble with shadows.

So no Photo of the Day. I took a few nice ones, but nothing that really stood out.

I thought this was kind of fun:

You can see all of my photos from today on Flickr.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Oak Tree Was Right

There's a Camry under there somewhere

The oak tree was right. It’s still two more days until winter officially begins and a record-breaking Nor’Easter blanketed the mid-Atlantic area with up to two feet of snow. “Only” eight inches fell in my yard. A significant accumulation, though, for New Jersey where we rarely see snow until January.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Christmas Story

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to share with you my favorite Christmas story. But I have to warn you. Don’t expect a sweet, syrupy tale of a Christmas miracle. I start out each December decorating my tree while wearing a hat that says “Bah Humbug” and listening to parodies of Christmas carols, dogs barking Christmas carols, chipmunks singing carols and my all-time favorite, “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer”. I love Christmas in my own twisted way.

So, without further ado, I present my favorite Christmas story:

I may be jinxing myself, but I have never had a problem mixing cats and Christmas trees. Our first cat, who came to us courtesy of a sign for free kittens tacked to the community bulletin board at the grocery store, completely ignored the tree and its decorations in favor of the tree skirt.
He loved sneaking under the tree, messing up the carefully arranged skirt and then curling up in the resulting nest of fabric, with a look that clearly said “I’ve been a bad boy, haven’t I?”. Thrilled that he had no interest in my precious glass ornaments, I gladly played along, scolding him out from under the tree and then carefully smoothing and arranging the skirt back into a perfect circle. I swear he was grinning as he ran from the room.

We played this game over and over again every year during the month of December until his untimely death at age 9 from kidney cancer.

Our next cat was a pure-bred Maine Coon who made up in fur for what he lacked in personality. He came to live with us in January, so I had almost a year of anguished waiting. Finally, the big day came. The tree was brought home, the lights and beads were strung and the fragile glass ornaments were carefully unwrapped and hung on the branches. I took a deep breath and waited.

And waited. And waited. Mr. Total Lack of Personality had no interest in the tree or the skirt. He did, however, develop a taste for the water in the tree stand. I knew that poinsettias were poisonous for cats so I researched online to see if evergreens were in any way harmful to felines. The answer came soon enough, offline.

Mr. TLoP developed diarrhea. Explosive diarrhea. Projectile diarrhea. You could tell when a spasm hit. His head would jerk up. Then his face would assume a pained expression and he would race for the litterbox where he would squat, vainly trying to confine the contents of his bowels to that small rectangle of litter. Instead, to the accompaniment of loud farts, he would spew poop all over his litterbox and the surrounding walls and floor. He was mortified.

After a weekend of scrubbing cat feces from walls and floor, I stuffed him into his carrier and took him to the vet who prescribed kitty Kaopectate and sent us home with stern instructions to cover the tree stand and keep an eye out to make sure that Mr. TLoP didn’t drink any more tree water.

There was no need for the admonishment. Mr. TLoP had learned his painful and embarrassing lesson. He drank only from his water bowl and steered clear of that shiny, dangerous thing in the living room.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Where Am I??

I know that it looks like I’ve disappeared again. I haven’t. I’ve been busy and posting the results elsewhere. My fellow Straw Hatter and co-blogger, “A” and I cooked Thanksgiving together again. You can see those recipes on our blog, The Wooden Spoon. After Thanksgiving, we did an informal Buche de Noel bake-off at the Rutgers Gardens Holiday Party, recipes coming soon. And I’ve started a new tradition on our blog, Christmas Cookie of the Week.

When I’m not creating culinary wonders in the kitchen, I’ve been writing. You can browse my portfolio at to see what I’ve been up to. Like wallpapering my bathroom. Or rendering my oven unfit to cook in a few days before Thanksgiving. Not surprisingly, there are also a few stories about my cats.

So if you stop by here and don’t see any updates, check my other hangouts to see what I’ve been up to lately.