I think goal-setting and accountability are important.  I also think setting meaningful deadlines for myself is a) hard; and b) necessary.  I have perfectionist tendencies that sometimes facilitates procrastination.  I tend to put things off until the circumstances are perfectly as I envision them.  I’ll wait to do a big task until I have a giant chunk of time where I feel energized, well-rested, enthusiastic, and so on, instead of just buckling the f*ck down and completing what I can in smaller chunks, even if the circumstances are imperfect.

In an effort to expedite the changes I’ve alluded to in previous posts, I want to head myself off at the pass, by publicly stating a goal, keeping myself accountable to it, and celebrating when I complete it.

My plan is to complete two sections of the [redacted] training program, quizzes included, every day from now until 10 November, and pass the final exam by 11:11 on 11/11.  Some of the units are long and dense, and will require a lot of my brain power.  I’m going to pick up a bottle of champagne tonight to keep in the fridge.  When I complete my goal and I’m cleared to pick up my first part-time assignment, that bottle gets opened.

I admit there is a distant part of me that is giving my optimism the side-eye.  Somewhere, a tiny voice is whispering that I will fail, that this opportunity is too good to be true, that I’m too late to the game, that somehow,  that I’ll do all this training but not get assignments, I’ll end up stuck or otherwise screwed.  I’m doing my best to drown out that voice, because I know it doesn’t serve me, anyone I love, or any of the people who are helping me make this change.

Right now, I have two full uninterrupted hours between 06:15 and 08:30 Monday through Friday.  I also technically get a lunch hour (I just very rarely interrupt my day to take advantage of it).  On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have my evenings entirely to myself after work, since Tomthulhu has standing games those evenings.  That gives me an additional four hours each of those evenings before it is basically bedtime for me.  I could also squeeze in an hour on Tuesday evenings before bed.  I typically have Fridays free as well.  Saturday and Sunday, training time will be 2 hours in the morning after I get up and have some coffee.  That gives me close to forty hours between this moment and the evening of the tenth, and I’ve already completed one unit.  The training itself is allegedly forty hours, so I’m ahead by a little bit.

I wish real life had progress bars.  I’m planning to make myself a sticker chart, instead.

Picking up a ten hour weekly assignment shortly after the 11th would mean six or seven weeks of non-trivial additional income on top of my holiday bonus which usually arrives mid-December.  Plus, I’d have a bit more sanity sooner and a little less of that voice yammering in my ear.


On a completely different note, I’m insane.

So I’m planning to take up an ultrabulky knitting project that I hope to complete once we move.  It’s impractical to attempt a project of this size in our current apartment which is cozy, but also… mostly hallway.

The finished project will be a queen sized knit blanket, like the one featured here.

There are some excellent patterns and blogs about taking on a project of this size and gauge; and it’s clear, this will require a lot of space that can be catless, dry, and will require easy access to a washing machine.  While I’m seeing a lot of people using superwash merino roving as their fiber, I’m tempted to use a Wensleydale or Targhee.  That’s just a matter of preference.  Merino is lovely, but I find it a bit delicate for items that see regular use.

To complete the project, I’d have to make my own needles out of PVC pipe, have a bunch of throw-away bedsheets, have access to a washing machine with a fill/drain/spin only cycle setting, and a room with some floor space that also has a door on it.  I’d also need a needle felting kit, which, as T pointed out, is a silly name since one does not felt needles.

I like the idea of this being the first project I complete in our forthcoming new home, especially since we’re moving in January — prime knitting season.  That’s also around the time that we’re going to venture to build our bed,  (and probably a standing desk) so running those two projects concurrently is appealing.

I’ve never done a project of this gauge or magnitude before, and I feel like a giant marshmallow blanket is just something we deserve to have in our lives.  Apart from the various stages that involve “waiting for the damn thing to dry” I honestly don’t foresee this project taking too terribly long, either.
I’m excited to give it a go.  (:3

On a completely different note, I’m insane.

An Open Letter to xoJane

Dear xoJane:

I think this is it, for us.  I wish I could say that it’s not you, it’s me; but that would be a lie deployed to spare your feelings.  I don’t do that anymore, so you’ll be getting the unvarnished truth.

When we first met, there was a lot about you I just didn’t see.  In the last few months, though, I’ve come to see how mercenary you are.  You present yourself as a fun, real-life forum for women* (and occasionally men*) to share their experiences, tricks for how to get around in the world, and enjoy a good dose of humor.  That content comes from your writers, but you select what gets run, what gets publicized, and what happens next.

And what happens next, is this: Sometimes, nothing.  The articles run, they get some comments.  Some of them are amazing, insightful, and lead to productive and healthy dialogue.  There’s usually some girl in the thread who’s like, “Ew you wore what for that picture” and the rest of us peer over our glasses at her and click our tongues in disapproval.  But sometimes, you run pieces that you know quite well are going to provoke more of a response.  Sometimes, that response is threatening, abusive, or dangerous. Articles about rape, abuse, discrimination, and harassment seem to have picked up some additional unintended cargo lately.  When women* speak about fear or anger lately, they’ve been met with dismissal, condescension, harassment, shame, doxxing, and death threats.

It is my belief that you, xoJane, have a responsibility to the women* who provide your tougher content.  You need moderators.  You need a base-line set of expectations for how people behave when they walk into the party you’re hosting.  You need some standards for how people treat the amazing, incredible, brave women* who write for you, justifying your existence and generating your clickable content, and therefore, revenue.  Giving women* a voice isn’t a gift — we already have voices.  What you provide is a venue for conversation, like a hostess.  But attending your parties is a lot like showing up with a few bottles of wine and your party shoes on, to find out that this house is full of strangers, and a couple of your besties (Hey Esprit de L’Escalier!) and the hostess has left the building.  And there’s someone top decking her toilet in the upstairs bathroom.  Someone may, or may not, be dismantling the garbage disposal.  Some dude just took my wine, drank it all, and brandished a bottle at me, calling me names.  Calling the women with whom I claim solidarity against things like gendered violence, institutional violence, racism, and a culture that is hostile to consent and self-determination, names.  Treating them like things.  Treating them like unloved children.

I think that they, that we, deserve more.  For the fifty bucks you throw at a writer for original content, we deserve your support when we do things like, disclose our status as assault and abuse survivors, and find the courage to write about that.  Not too long ago, it was stated to me in very man-splain-y terms that writing about my assault in a public forum constituted an invitation to be criticized and abused further.  By not providing your writers with support and artful comment moderation, it seems like tacitly, you agree.  At the very least, you don’t object.  And moreover, you profit from it.  Those outrage-shares, those rage-clicks, those comments.  They generate revenue for you.  Yes, we can flag inappropriate comments.  But nowhere on xoJane.com is there a clearly stated policy for what counts, for you, as inappropriate.

I just spent a large portion of two days trying to ad hoc moderate several of your recent offerings.  Keeping an eye out for people disclosing their status as survivors, trying to curtail abusive victim blaming and revictimization.  Trying to be an educator and a champion for the people at your party who are still trying to find their voices, and speak their truths.  And I noticed: I don’t ever feel the need to do that for the other sites for whom I’ve written.  Because those sites Back Our Play.  They’re here for US.  They have teams of moderators, and robust policies governing the conversations they host.  They make explicit their expectations for people at their parties.  They demand better of their readership, and challenge their readers to voice concern, critique, and counter-argument with civility and decorum.

I stopped going to parties like yours when I was nineteen.  I don’t know why I stayed so long at this one.  I keep trying to do your dishes, refill glasses, take out the garbage, and call cabs for the drunk assh*les who can’t seem to stop wrecking everyone’s good time.  And I’m not even doing it for you.  I’m doing it for us.  Because we’re all at this party where we expected to be challenged and  exchange ideas, to be heard, and to listen, and you’re nowhere to be found.

It feels awful, and I’m not going to do it anymore.  I feel sad, because I’ll miss the pockets of awesome people.  It’s just that no one’s company is worth feeling like you’ve thrown my brothers* and sisters* to the wolves.  I trust them.  I trust them to run if the wolves get too fierce, too dangerous.  I trust them to know what is best for them, and to seek support in the appropriate places.  I have to trust them, because I cannot protect them all the time forever.  Because as much as I want to be able to do that, I can’t do it at my own expense.  And it’s pretty clear you’re not going to do it.

So you know.  Don’t call me or anything, okay?


An Open Letter to xoJane

Bonus Food Post and a note on Food Woo and Manners

So, last night, I made Paprikash and it was a big hit.  I had to fight the cats off the entire time.  The boys are usually quite polite, but Huginn (the more mild mannered of the two) has a bit of the crazy when it comes to meat.  If you give him a little sliver of raw heart, he will growl the entire time he is eating it.  He doesn’t guard his food dish at all, but coming between him and a slice of calf liver is not a life choice I’d recommend.

As it turns out, Celia was super generous, and we had too much offal!  I ended up carving up the hearts and gizzards to put in the paprikash (which was amazing, though still a bit soupy by the time we ate) and made a snack for myself as the paprikash bubbled away.  Here’s what I did with the chicken livers…

Liver is honestly best when it is cooked for a very short period of time.  It is an organ that is perhaps most unlike the usual muscle-based meat that is a staple of the American diet.  Texture-wise, when cooked as it should be, it’s a lot like velvet.  There is no toothiness or chew to it at all.  Flavor wise, it can be strongly metallic, and a teensy bit bitter.  It pairs well with smokey flavors, maple, lemon, cilantro, and hot-stuff.  One of the great things about chicken liver is that they’re pretty small, so they cook up really quickly in a hot cast iron.

I heated up my cast iron skillet with fair amount of butter.  For me, a “fair” amount is like, a tablespoon.  Ghee would also work nicely, but I’m lazy and haven’t made a batch in ages.  I would not recommend olive oil for this job.  When the butter was starting to foam, I coated the pan in a spice blend of Tom’s that contains smoked maple as a primary flavor.  I cleaned the livers quickly by rinsing them in cold water, and put them directly in the pan, toward the center.  There were close to fifteen or twenty of them in the bag Celia gave me, all between the size of a walnut and the size of an apricot (but you know, flat and wiggly).  I cooked them for what felt like the correct amount of time.  I usually judge meat based on approximations and feel.  I believe this was close to a minute and a half per side, or two minutes a side for the larger pieces.  They will bleed a bit, when you flip them.  I don’t really fret about under-cooked anything, except ground meat products from the grocery store because they often don’t clean the meat as well as I’d like before it hits the grinder.  I threw the livers in a bowl, and snacked with Tom while he made me a gin and tonic.

They were pretty intensely flavored, which I expect from farm-raised stock.  They eat a varied diet, run around, chase bugs, and engage in the usual derp for which chickens are somewhat famous.  Tom thought they were a great treat, and I was pretty pleased with their pink, velvety texture.  I’m looking forward to the leftovers with a bit of Sriracha tonight when I get home and get ready to make supper.

I should make simple quick things like this more often.  I think next time, I will try it with some fresh sage and lemon juice.

The rest of this post is dedicated to Carl, hater of all things Woo, and Listener-to of All My Crazy.

A thing that makes me have a little crazymouth is when people tell me food I like is “gross”.  Like, hey.  It might not be your thing, and that’s okay.  But making faces while I eat something you might not like, and being all, “Ew that’s the body’s filtration system it’s full of /toxins/” shows not only a a gross misunderstanding of physiology, it is also just plain rude.  First of all, contentious point: I don’t know what you mean by “toxins” and I don’t think you know, either.  There’s a lot of woo about “eating clean” and “toxins” and “cleanses” that a very small amount of rigorous research would show is exactly that: woo.  Secondly, in a healthy animal’s body, nothing of consequence builds up in the liver over time.  It isn’t a filter, it’s a conversion factory and distribution center.  It processes things from our metabolic processes that can be harmful, and converts them into things the body can use, or something harmless to be excreted (example: the conversion of ammonia, a natural byproduct of the liver’s metabolic processes in which food becomes energy for your cells, into urea, which is far more harmless [a primary ingredient in Nair and other cosmetic products!] and is excreted when you pee).  It’s not wise to overdo it with liver specifically, because Vitamin A and Copper toxicity, while rare (PUN! cos liver), is a thing.  Too much of either can be harmful.  I usually eat liver less than once a month, and I consume it for the treat it is — in small doses and with a lot of enthusiasm.  Like anything, too much of a good thing is a bad thing.

That said, any animal parts you eat are bound to have some cholesterol.  Cholesterol isn’t bad on it’s own, but it needs to be balanced properly for your heart and vascular system to stay healthy over time. If you’re worried about your cholesterol, you can talk to your doctor, and ask them to do a CBC+Differential and cholesterol screening (I do this every year to two years, because cardiovascular disease sounds like the worst band name ever).  The results of that test are something you can discuss with your doctor or nutritionist, and they can suggest changes if your particular body requires them; for example, if the ratio of your TBC/HDL is too high.

If you’re worried about your cholesterol, let me tell you what probably won’t help: a juice cleanse you looked up on the internet once without the supervision of a physician.  If you’re worried about your weight, maybe try medically managed weight loss and a thyroid screening instead of a Cabbage Soup Diet.  I love cabbage as much as the next girl (which is to say, a lot) but cabbage can act as a goitrogen (that is, in high amounts not offset with the presence of iodine in your diet, it can suppress thyroid function).  Our bodies are pretty good at what they do, barring congenital problems, the breakdown that accompanies aging, and you know, people doing dumb crap, like abusing narcotics. They’re not “dirty” and don’t need to be “cleansed”.  They do, sometimes, need to go through a process of elimination, if you’re trying to figure out if you’re sensitive to a particular family of food items like dairy, grains, or sugar.  Bodies are all different, and an eliminative dietary choice is something about which you should speak to your doctor if you’re having persistent or chronic problems that are disrupting your life.  Your symptoms could be related to a deficiency as much as an over-abundance of something, and treating the internet like a dietary phone book you can select from randomly can put you on some dangerous paths.  Like the Lemonade Diet, are you kidding me right now.

Bonus Food Post and a note on Food Woo and Manners


So, I was supremely lazy on Friday, and made cumin lavender cracklin chicken because the hearts, livers, and gizzards in my kitchen had not thawed well enough.  Mea culpa.  But!  They are fully thawed now, and I’m making Paprikás (pronounced “paprikash”) tonight.

First a little about the offal in question:
Chicken gizzards are part of a chicken’s digestive tract.  When eaten as human food, they’re great sources of protein, B12, iron, selenium, phosphorous, and zinc.  They’re delicious in a multitude of ways, especially when they’re fresh.

I’m the first one to extol the virtues of liver.  First of all, liver is delicious.  Secondly, it is a powerhouse.  Chicken liver specifically is a great source of Protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron, Phosphorus and Selenium.

I also have some lamb hearts on hand.  Like most offal, heart is great for getting Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Phosphorus and Copper, Protein, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B12, Pantothenic Acid, Iron and Selenium into your guts.

I’m not a nutritionist, by any means.  However, as a personal choice, I prefer food that is nutrient dense, and having a good dose of Vitamin B12 is a sure fire way to get me to consume something (along with being delicious).  Vitamin B12 is essential for a healthy nervous system, and deficiencies are not uncommon.  A B12 deficiency can cause things like fatigue, depression, and poor memory.  I like the idea of getting the majority of my nutritional content from actual food items rather than supplements if I can.

So that’s what’s on the chopping block this evening.  I’m making Paprikash.

Paprika is excellently paired with offal, firstly because paprika is delicious, and secondly because it nicely compliments the iron-laden flavor of offal.  If you’ve never eaten the internal organs of a creature, there tends to be a flavor I happen to love but can put some people off if they’re expecting a kidney to taste like muscle meat.  It’s a bit metallic and quite rich in quality and things like butter, paprika, lemon, onion, and fig play nicely with it.

So, Paprikash is a traditional Hungarian dish.  I started making it when I was reading Dracula in college, enticed by Jonathan Harker’s sumptuous and enthusiastic discussions of Hungarian cuisine as he ventured into the Carpathians early in the first few chapters.  Here’s how I do it:

Prep your offal.  Remove the sinewy hinge from the gizzards — this will make the gizzards cook to tenderness time requirement decrease.  You can leave them whole, but if you’re hoping for dinner in the shorter term, I recommend removing the hinge.  Carve the hearts by ventricle.  The chambers are typically quite easy to recognize.  I have faith in you.  Liver doesn’t need a lot of prep, especially chicken liver.  It’s a largely undifferentiated organ, so bite-sized or slightly bigger chunks should do you just fine.  If you’re using cow liver and find the iron taste puts you off, just soak it in lemon juice for 24 hours before you use it.  The citrus bath will break down some of the blood-like flavors in the liver.  Chicken livers, in my opinion, don’t need that sort of treatment.  They’re fine, as is.  Find some bacon, or take your jar of bacon grease out of the fridge.

Mis-en-place time:

Your meat is prepared.  Put it in a bowl and leave it on the counter, not the fridge, while you do the rest of the prep.

You have rendered some bacon fat, either today or another day.  You’ve done this, because we’ve hung out a few times, and I’ve been like, “keep your damn bacon grease and cook with it.”  Goose is better, but like, if you find a butcher in the tri-state that will give you rendered goose fat, you better give me their number.  I will give them all of my damn money. You can also use duck fat, if y’like, which is sometimes available at the grocer.

Mince a large onion.  Use a sharp knife, for the love of crap.

Grab the salt.  It can be any kind of salt.  I do not abide salt woo.  I use a truffle salt, when I’m being fancy (always, have you met me?); but a smoked salt, sea salt, or just table salt will do just fine.

Collect whatever paprika you plan to use.  You’ll be using sort of a lot.  I typically blend 2 Tablespoons of Hot Hungarian Paprika with 1 Tablespoon of Smoked Paprika, because basically if you smoke something, I will consume it with enthusiasm and delight.

You’ll need a Tablespoon of tomato paste, and enough chicken stock or bone broth to cover the meat in your dutch oven.

You may, if you like, add up to half a cup of sour cream.  Tomthulhu thinks it is gross; I will eat it by itself out of the container with a spoon.  If I’m making supper for both of us, I leave it out and just put sour cream on my plate because people I love are allowed to have preferences.

Cut up some sweet potatoes into approximately one inch cubes, or use small fingerling/young white potatoes.  Traditionally, paprikás is served on a bed of egg noodles.  I make mine to sit atop a crown of either boiled or oven roasted potatoes.  You can also use cauliflower!

Mince two cloves of garlic.

Here’s what you do:

Put your fat in a large dutch oven.  Ideally, you possess a ceramic or cast iron dutch oven.  Use it for freaking everything, and love your life.  Heat the fat until it melts over medium-high heat.

Put the onions in your heated dutch oven with the fat.  Cook them until they’re tender and clear, then push them all over to a remote corner of the dutch oven.

Brown about a pound of mixed hearts, gizzards, and livers in the onion-fat.  I usually turn up the heat when I do this to get a nice Maillard Reaction going.  Don’t let it get out of hand, though.  Offal doesn’t like being overcooked.

Add your salt, tomato paste, and paprika blend.  Add enough stock/broth to cover.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Put a lid on your dutch oven, and let this simmer for an hour to an hour and a half.  Check it after about 70 minutes.  If you de-hinged your gizzards, the dish might be done in as little as an hour. If you didn’t, it will take closer to three hours for them to be tender all the way through.  If the gizzard squeaks against your teeth when you bite it, it isn’t done yet.

Use this time to prepare your potatoes, sweet potatoes, or egg noodles (if you’re not on the paleo/ancestral template).

When it’s getting close to done, take the lid off, and simmer some of the liquid off.  This dish is meant to be rather thick; more like a thick stew than a soup.

As the liquid reduces, add your minced garlic.  Add the sour cream, if you’re doing that.

Serve on the starch of your choice.

That’s it.  The preparation time is pretty long, but the work is pretty simple.  This meal freezes and reheats well, and is excellent for chilly evenings with a glass of wine.  Pretend you are on a train trip through Budapest on a grand adventure as a newly minted solicitor.  “Memorandum: Get recipe for Mina.”


A small interlude in which I rave like a toxoplasmotic cat-lover

Huginn is so handsome.  He is also Extremely Concerned about my Bathing Habits, in that they Happen in Water.
Huginn is so handsome. He is also Extremely Concerned about my Bathing Habits, in that they Happen in Water.

So, as I’ve mentioned, we have cats.

We have, pretty much, the best of all cats, and we have two of them.  They’re named after Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn (or, “Thought” and “Memory”).  I adore them.

When we first got the boys, Tom and I were certain that Huginn had chosen me, and Muninn had chosen Tom.  This was based on their behavior at the shelter, and also catvibes.  Tomthulhu is the Cat Whisperer.  Even evil feral violent cats are won over by his wiles.  Wiles.   He has them.

It turns out, we were totally wrong on both counts.  Muninn is my rotten baby, and Huginn is Tom’s bosom buddy.

There are a few outcomes of becoming the stewards of this particular duo.  They need a lot of stimulation and could use more space (Come On, January!). They’re both grazers by nature, but who became accustomed to scheduled feedings while they were in the shelter, which means they mooch.  Huginn was adopted once and returned to the shelter for getting “too big”.  The boys need each other, and wrestle a lot.  If I liked our neighbors, I’d feel bad for the late night herd of stampeding elephants we keep in our apartment.  I don’t, so you know, it’s cool.  Muninn does not like to be excluded from activity in the apartment, which can make cooking and eating in our small space into a bit of a training exercise, at times.  Luckily, he’s very responsive to a quick squirt of water and a firm syllable.  They’re also both fairly big and very playful boys.  They’re also natural climbers — something we hope to encourage in a safe way in our next apartment.

Outcomes include: Tidiness.  Leaving things out (power cords, food items or wrappers, game controllers, glasses, etc) is just not an option.  Things need to be put away for the panthers (and our stuff) to be safe.  The Bathroom door is closed unless there is a person in the bathroom.  Apparently, our bathroom is a magical land of curiosity and delight?  Mostly they like to knock my make-up down the drain and get cat fur in the tub.  I’m particular about the bathroom, and so it’s a no-cat zone unless they have supervision.  Changing parameters for our next place!  Our boys are very, very polite with the litter box.  I am seriously so proud of them.  They’re perfect gentlemen, and I could not be more grateful.  They even announce when they would prefer that their litter be changed.  But given how much they tear around, hardwood, tile, or vinyl floors are probably a must for them.  They’re pretty respectful of our belongings, partially because they get plenty of attention and play time.  This will only increase as I transition to working remotely, but I’d still like them to associate “carpet material” with “toys or climbing things” and not “a thing of mommy’s to destroy.”  That means adjusting the kind of furniture we buy, and how we train them to respond to our space.

You probably bore Muninn.  It's not personal.
You probably bore Muninn. It’s not personal.

It’s also sort of a big deal?  They are both under the age of two.  They will probably be with us for another fifteen years or more, given what we feed them, that they are insured, immunized, and are indoor cats.  My last cat lived to be nearly twenty-two.  In fifteen years, Tom and I will be forty-seven.  My hope is that we will remain in love, happy, and healthy during that time — and I know that is Tom’s hope as well.  We also may choose to have or adopt a child or children some time in there, if that’s a thing we want to do together.  Life will change.  Careers will change, and households.  Friends will likely come and go, and so will the things that hold our interest and keep us passionate.
I have already made our friend Emily promise that, when the cats die, her beetle colony will take care of them, and that their skulls will adorn our home.  I am uninterested in opinions about that, by the way.  Emily agreed enthusiastically because she’s a good friend.  Who loves bones.  It’s whatever.  I have cool friends.

Muninn is not completely happy unless all four of his feet are touching my body.  He chirps like a cricket.
Muninn is not completely happy unless all four of his feet are touching my body. He chirps like a cricket.

But also, these creatures are autonomous.  They need me, sure.  But they will age and change and grow, and need me to adjust and change to meet those needs.  It’s my job to do that, because I took them on for life.  That means trouble shooting behavior problems, making sure we balance loving attention and attentive training and correction, attending regular veterinary visits, updating Amazon subscriptions for their food, litter, and medicine to keep them healthy and free of parasites. We can’t just leave for the weekend with a dish of food and the faith that they will be alright.  We’ll need someone to stop in, check on them, play with them, love them in our absence.

We will also lose them, one day.  And they will lose each other.  At some point, one of my boys will lose his best friend and playmate.  Either Tom or I will be missing our deeply bonded panther buddy, while the other lives on.  That will be hard.  But in the meantime, we have them, and they have each other, and it’s basically the best thing ever.  I’m deeply in love.

Huginn has a tendency to climb on people's shoulders, just like his namesake.
Huginn has a tendency to climb on Tom’s shoulders, just like his namesake.
A small interlude in which I rave like a toxoplasmotic cat-lover