My New Stray Cat

We have a new addition to our household, Moogie. Most Star Trek fans, especially those who lean toward Deep Space Nine, will recognize the name as the mother of Quark and Rom. Moogie was a stray cat, but now we have given her a home. I’ll take the opportunity on this #caturday to tell you all about her.

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The first time we saw Moogie, she was scratching at our back door. Although we knew she wanted a home, we were reluctant because of our newborn, Frankie. I searched the town’s Facebook page. Most people with lost and found pets post there, but I saw nothing about this cat. Then I took pictures of her, posted them, and received no response.

Talk About a Guilt Trip

Months ago, as I prepared the nursery for an impending visit from The Stork, I painted a portrait of St. Francis of Assisi, surrounded by animal silhouettes. I finished off St. Francis with a rabbit, a bird, and a cat. Two days later, there was Moogie.

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I kept feeding her most days because some days she was nowhere to be found. Every time I’d walk into the nursery and see St. Francis with the cat, my guilt trip got worse. After a few months of failing to find a home for her, my wife and I decided to keep her. After all, we were already feeding her.

Off to the Vet

The first problem was our cat carriers. They were too small for this rather large kitty. I purchased a carrier for a small dog and Moogie fit without a problem. I took her to the vet and he checked her out for feline leukemia and other communicable diseases. Because her long hair was matted, they gave her a bath and shaved her.

How Did the Other Cats Behave? Is the Fur Flying?

So far, only Phoenix and Luna have accepted Moogie. Despite the initial hissing contests, the cats eat together and have even tried to play with Moogie. Minnie, on the other hand, is reacting differently. She can be a very jealous cat. Minnie follows me around from room to room, always has to jump on my lap, or get into anything that has my attention.

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And Now?

Moogie and the other cats have settled into a routine. Our four-feline brood eats and plays nicely together. The transition has been smoother than expected. It is possible that the other cats were already accustomed to her because of her extended stay under our deck.

Got a stray cat story to tell? Or just a good one about your domestic kitty?

Every Time You Reply – Little Frankie Doesn’t Cry

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Sauce or Gravy?: A Plea for Italian Peace

An undercurrent of animosity, name-calling, swearing, and insult-laden discourse (Italians are very good at that skill) has been brewing on social media lately. Of course, Facebook and Twitter did not cause the dilemma, but rather, social media is the delivery system which has allowed Italian enclaves from coast to coast to have a verbose brawl over a simple question. Do you call it sauce or gravy? That succulent culinary companion for many different pasta dishes revered throughout the world. And sometimes, a family recipe guarded by Italian grandmothers (with wooden spoon weaponry) like a high level classified state secret. Hopefully, within this humble post, I will settle the sauce / gravy question, once and for all.

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In Medieval times, Italy was a peninsula of warring city states and principalities. I would hate to see this happen within the U.S. Therefore, in the words of San Francesco d’Assisi (St. Francis), “Make me an instrument of your peace…”

The Difference Between a Sauce and a Gravy

To make my claim plain and simple, Gravies contain meat drippings and sauces do not. The fat or oil for a sauce is usually butter, and the thickener in common is of course flour. Yes, I am completely aware of other sauce / gravy techniques from the table of world cuisine. A German chef may add crushed ginger snaps or farina to thicken, while an Asian chef will rely on cornstarch. And who can forget Greek Taztziki sauce, based upon yogurt.

Now let’s take a look at a sauce and gravy which are based upon the same main ingredient.

Béchamel sauce and Sawmill gravy are milk oriented. Béchamel is a mother sauce used in Lasanga, or making Bernaise and Mornay sauces. For a Béchamel sauce, milk is thickened by a butter and flour roux. Sawmill gravy is that wonderful concoction from the American South used on Country Fried Steak or for Biscuits and gravy. In Sawmill gravy, flour is sprinkled into crumbled breakfast sausage and its rendered drippings, then milk and seasonings are added.

Both are milk based, but one uses meat drippings and the other uses butter.

The words sauce and gravy are differentiated in the same way in Italian, sugo for gravy and salsa for sauce. For instance, beef gravy in Italian is sugo di manzo and the aforementioned Béchamel sauce is salsa besciamella. Therefore, if you didn’t use meat, it is a tomato sauce. If you add meat, it is a gravy.

On a Personal Note

Like my grandmother, mom, aunts, and sisters, I’ve always used both terms depending upon whether it was a tomato sauce (meatless), or gravy for big Sunday family meal with meatballs, sausage, and bracciole. It is simply a matter of applying the proper culinary terms.

Are you ready to make peace with your paesani? Let’s end this terrible bloody battle and usher in a modern Pax Romana.

Every Time You Reply – “Little Frankie” Doesn’t CryDSC00166

Baby Francesco’s Nursery

Before, there was ugly medium shag carpet, and old dingy dark brown trim, which matched the window sills, doors and jambs.

The first thing was to rip up the carpet, padding and remove the staples; all 10,000 of them (not really that many, it just felt that way). Then I used some wood putty to repair any damage on the sill, door and closet jambs. The sill looked like a big dog teethed on it years ago.

Next I removed the old dark stained trim, and disposed of it. Don’t ever want to see that again.

When the wood putty dried I sanded the dark stain away. First I used a rough pad, and then decreased the coarseness of the pads for successive sanding sessions.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The doors arrived sooner than expected. They’re pre-hung and slipped into the rough opening without a hitch. Although, I purchased new brushed nickel hinges to match the handle, because I really hate electroplate brass on doors.

For the next step I primed the entire room and closet interior. These walls hadn’t been painted in years. It took two full coats and in some spots three to get an even appearance.

Now I was ready to paint. I drew the birch trees on the wall with a light pencil and painted around those edges.

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For St. Francis and his animal companions I took a different approach. I had a roll of brown paper, so I drew the figure and animals on that. When I was satisfied, I cut out the components and affixed them to the wall. I traced around them with pencil and blocked in their edges. I basically turned it into a large coloring book.

 

Next I applied the toast color to three walls and added details to the trees and colored in St. Francis.

With the painting done the next item of business was the Pergo. These boards were a little wider than other laminates and went in with a lot of tweaking and tender loving care. The most difficult part was the trap door. The builder didn’t cut a straight opening.

Gee thanks Mr. Builder, now I have to work around someone else’s shoddy work.

The T-mold provided the edge for the trap door and door entrance.

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For the trim, I used 1×4 MDF board. It cuts, sands, and takes joint compound easily. The best part about using MDF is no jado cuts for inside corners. As you can see, I used a 1/2’” overhang for the top of the window and doors, providing a modern but “western” look.

 

After caulking and compounding, I painted the trim. The last step was the electric switches, outlets, and switch plates. A dimmer switch will work wonders in a nursery.

The last step was the closet doors and blinds. Bi-fold just seemed the best way to go for better access, and the white blinds appealed to my “less is more” philosophy.