08 May 2019

Instannoying

Warning: rant ahead


I have Instagram, and quite a few other social networking/media accounts, and spend more time looking through these than I care to admit.  So I'm not here to denounce the entire idea of it all, but to whine a bit about some of the more irritating side effects.

Let me get a related rant out of the way first.  I don't drive, but I know there's laws in place for people who text and drive, or basically for anyone who is distracted by their phones instead of concentrating on the road.  This is good, but what about pedestrian hazards? It's rude to walk while writing on and scrolling through your phone.  We all do it to a point, and it'd be impossible to police everyone doing so.  But while crossing a street it is downright dangerous. I have to dodge bikes (and sometimes cars) that blow through red lights, only to find someone in the zebra crossing too engrossed in whatever's on their screen to care about who is in their path.  This is all bad enough, but I don't take it personally - not until it interferes with my tea enjoyment!

This brings us to a situation that occurred recently.  It was an unseasonably warm weekend day, and I found myself near the Flatiron District.  I've always liked that area, because it's busy enough without being Midtown crazy (usually).  I decided to go to Cha Cha Matcha, as I've been trying to get there for a while.  I was worried I might not find a seat once inside, but surprisingly one became quickly available.  I'd planned to try their Matcha Latte, but as it was warm and I'd seen someone sitting with ice cream, I decided to go for that (matcha banana swirl, very good.) I took a quick and not very quality picture of my ice cream for the Instagrams, and dug in.  Because, like I said, I'm not against sharing some of my minutia.
Bad lighting, good ice cream!

However. 

There were two girls sitting to my right, who both had beverages that looked amazing, and otherwise weren't dressed up (t-shirts, jeans, maybe more makeup than necessary but no let's not judge), who spent the entire time there taking pictures of each other and their drinks using their phones.  If they had expensive camera equipment I would theorize that they were doing an important photo shoot, though that didn't make much sense on a busy Saturday.  All I know is that they barely said a word to each other, just posed and posed.  I would not have cared - I see that sort of thing in Central Park all the time - but one of the girls had her back to me and kept leaning back until her hair nearly touched my ice cream.  

Can't I catch a break in these places already?

Otherwise, aside from the loud music, I liked Cha Cha Matcha, as I think most people would.  It's festive with its pinks and greens, and if the ice cream was any indication, the latte is probably good too.  I would like to go back, so this is no criticism of the place itself.  I simply don't understand the need to document everything in such a way that any actual appreciation is ignored in favor of "likes".  The girls were probably, at least in their estimation, "influencers".  Now I know some people build entire careers around the ability to recommend products and look attractive doing so.  Fine, if there's a market for it.  But I cannot see what exactly came out of taking a billion pictures of some beverages...and that's me talking!

If anything, please try to strike a balance.  I go to tea rooms and bookshops (the main things I like to write about), and while I'm there I often take a few notes and pictures in plans to blog later.  Then, I get on with the business of living a little.  If I'm with someone else, I try to use my limited attention span to be present with that person, because we all need flesh and blood connection.  Some people go to tourist sites merely to buy souvenirs from the gift shop.  Others visit the gift shop on the way out to buy gifts for others and a memento for themselves to solidify what they've seen.  I prefer to be the latter.

01 May 2019

Taking Floral Teas

Just in time for May, it's time to talk about something near and dear to my heart, in which love I am certainly not alone: flowers!  And not just flowers, but the kind you infuse either alone or with its good friend, tea.

Not everyone likes floral scented or infused tea.  That's okay, the world is full of differing opinions and tastes.  Honestly, if made too strong, it can be a bit like drinking perfume heated and served in a pretty cup.  Done just right, which for me means subtly, it can be a treat to smell and taste. Today  I will go through the floral teas I like, and then the ones I don't like as much.

Rose: An old favorite in some black tea, and a good complement to other flowers and herbs.  As flowers go, they're not my favorite; probably because I associate them with funerals. but sprinkled in tea, I am far from mourning.

Violet: I'm one of those people who like those violet candies, and I like violet just as much in black tea.  I'd had it before, but after having a cup with my Victoria sponge cake in Lovecrumbs, Edinburgh, I had renewed appreciation for its delicate beauty.  Now I'm rarely without some in my tea cupboard.  I also have a Violet Rose tea from Simpson and Vail, and it's tastygorgeous!



Lavender: This features more in my herbal tea collection.  I love lavender: the smell, the taste, its clean, calming qualities; and if you're about to comment on its "old lady" associations, there's the door!  I have a Lavender Lime tea from Celestial Seasonings which is an odd but good pairing!  And there is nothing quite like a London Fog Latte when they remember the lavender.

Jasmine: And I......., will always love yoooouuuuu...Seriously, I don't crave this every day, but it is a classic, and it may be a good way to coax someone into drinking green tea. For some reason I find it gets me more jittery than other ways of drinking green tea (matcha lattes are a close second), so I limit my intake.

Hibiscus: Very nice hot, full of healthy properties, and a pleasure iced.  A good alternative to Sweet Tea in the (American) South.  It can be kind of tart, so use care in how strong you make it!

Chamomile: I don't drink this for pleasure, but as a calming infusion, and an aid to digestion.  Love the tiny daisy look of the flower, dislike the scent.  Well mixed with other herbs, as it is in Sleepytime (hello again, Celestial Seasonings!), and I'm sold.

Lilac: I have a pouch of lilac black tea from Simpson and Vail, and it's my least favorite of their floral teas.  I don't hate it,  but, meh.

I found a place in the East Village that shares my love for all things tea and flowers: JQK Floral Tea.  It features hot and iced teas and lattes with most of the above flowers, and additionally Osmanthus and Chrysanthemum.  I'm pretty sure I've had chrysanthemums in my tea at some point, but not enough to make a commentary.  So adventures awaits!  It's a nice space, not huge but not hole in the wall tiny.  I had a Rose Hojicha iced tea when I stopped by, and based on this I will return.  Maybe on one of my Flower Fridays!

What are your favorite floral teas? 




26 April 2019

The Magic of Bookshops


If you love to read, and love physical books, you know the feeling of walking into a great bookshop.  It's home, it's a treat, it's heavenly...it's magical.  I make it a point to get to as many as I can, and to go back to the old favorites. It never gets old - and on a theoretical date, I'd much prefer a bookshop over a loud venue.

Not every bookshop is my favorite, though I don't believe I've ever hated any bookshop.  There are a few shops in Queens (a very few, but these are appreciated). but of these only Astoria Bookshop has my heart so far.  The rest are good - I refuse to be negative about any bookshop in Queens, unless of course the walls were bleeding or something - but Astoria has added coziness - it rarely feels crowded, but it's not empty either, and it's not that big, but I could spend time there comfortably. 

Brooklyn boasts a few more offerings - and two whole Barnes and Noble shops to boot - but I had grown quite fond of Book Court, and thought it tragic when they closed down.  I'd read that its sort-of natural successor, Books Are Magic, had appeared in Cobble Hill, but when do I get down there?  Apparently sometimes, because I found myself browsing its shelves contentedly of an afternoon or two recently.

Let me first get one thing out of the way: it is Instagrammable.   I intend to devote a whole post ranting about Instagrammability, but I too have Instagram, and I update it regularly, and can see the appeal of the outside mural and the gorgeous shelves and the friendly but not overwrought children's section for one's instaposts.  (A micro-rant: some bookshops I've been to have children's sections that were nice...but certainly not big enough for a proper children's event.  I found this out by stopping by in the midst of a children's event, and it was impossible to have a good browse, or even a quick shop.  It's hard, because you don't want to begrudge a bookish experience for the kids, but you don't want to scare people away, either.  I think Books Are Magic could pull of kids' events, though I'm not about to find out any time soon.)

Anyway, back to raving.  A weekday afternoon may not be the perfect gauge, but I found the shop not crowded.  No tumbleweeds, just the feeling that I could look around without bumping into anyone.  Plus, I didn't feel exposed.  Some places I've visited have a setup where I feel like the employees/owners are watching me - even if they're not.  It's a design flaw that I sense, but would not know how to correct.  Books Are Magic doesn't feel that way.  Had the whole space been littered with cameras I'd still feel the privacy that I don't elsewhere. 

There's sections for everything, though nothing particularly specialized from what I can tell.  But wait! there's a whole set of shelving devoted to New York Review Books.  I could have spent hours just browsing that area; that is, if I had the hours.  Woe is me!  In the end, I selected How Poetry Can Change Your Heart, which I can't wait to delve into (and so appropriate for Poetry Month!)  It's as pink as Peggy Porschen, so now I have a hankering for cake.  

Which reminds me: I passed quite a few bakeries and cafes on the way to Books Are Magic, and if I get that elusive chunk of time, would love to come back and explore places to curl up with new bookish acquisitions.

Subway Directions: F/G to Bergen Street.  You could take the 2/3/4/5 to Borough Hall or the R to Court Street if you don't mind a walk: and let's face it, on a beautiful day, an extra walk to a bookshop can be a delight.

Tomorrow is Independent Bookstore Day, so it might be a good time to pass by if you're around - or to visit any independent bookshop you have nearby.  The world would be an even darker place without them.





It just pulls you in...

Browse away!

Feel like hanging out yet?
For the kiddies, or anyone who could sit on a bean bag and still be able to stand up again...

28 February 2019

The Movies

I don't think I've ever been identified as a cinephile.  Sure, if I like a film I will talk about it, and possibly analyze it, but it's not a deep passion, not the way books and certain TV shows are for me.  Still, as a child, going to the movies was one of life's greatest pleasures.  We had a theater just two blocks away, so it wasn't a hassle to get there, and when I was a little older and IMAX type, stadium seating developed, it meant a fun trip to the city or maybe Forest Hills, each of which was a little different, and really it didn't take much to get excited about even the most mediocre movie.

In the past decade I rarely go to the movie theater.  I didn't suddenly fall out of love with the experience, but I find there's so many reasons to stay away, and wait for its release on the streaming sites.  That actually leads to the first reason:

Shorter wait: When Titanic came out at the end of 1997 I saw it four times in the theater.  I never do that anymore.  It played in the theater for months, and then it came out on VHS in September of 1998.  I remember this specifically because I held on the receipt for sentimental reasons: I purchased the video in the Borders located in the World Trade Center.  I'll never let go of that receipt!  The point is that if I didn't see the movie in the theaters, I would have had to wait 9 months to see it, and if I hadn't bought it, I would have probably have had to wait til I could get it at Blockbuster, which could take forever.  The only film I saw last year in the theater was Bohemian Rhapsody.  It was available digitally less than three months after its theater release date.  Hence, I normally just wait.

But what about spoilers? you may ask.  Yes, what about them?  When the last Avengers movie came out, it was released first in the UK.  I was checking a group I follow on Facebook, one that has nothing to do with movies, and before I realized what I was reading, some lovely person had posted all the spoilers for that movie.  Now I didn't want to bother spending the money.  That brings us to point 2:

Is It Worth It? The price of a ticket locally is $16.40.  Ouch.  What if I didn't like the movie?  There's no refund.  And that's not counting snacks or dinner afterward.  As a single person that's enough of an expense, but imagine paying for a family?  I know that box office earnings influence marketing and future film making, but I can't fork over cash to help a statistic.  If I wait a few months, the movie, whether I like it or not, will likely be available on one of the streaming sites I subscribe to...

Stream Away: I subscribe to a number of services that offer enough movies, new and old, to satisfy my viewing needs.  It's too much, and I know I spend enough time watching stuff, but it's still a better value.

Crowds!!!  I admit that sometimes, watching a superhero movie with an audience, and hearing their reaction along with my own, can be fun.  Overall, though, I don't care for sitting in crowds, and prefer to sit on an aisle, which is normally not the best angle, and not guaranteed in a popular movie.  When I saw Bohemian Rhapsody I picked a theater that had reserved seating, which is a good idea, until you find that someone is sitting in your seat.  Somehow I had the courage (foolhardiness?) to ask the guy to move, but even that action took away some of the enjoyment.  Then there's the other noises that are unwelcome - like conversation, chewing, babies crying, that as I get older bring out the crabby in me to a higher degree.  It's a shame.  

Leaving the house: This can work for and against going to the movies.  On a rainy day off, it's nice to make a pillow fort and catch up on some Netflix, rather than sitting a soggy self on a carpeted chair, placing umbrella on a sticky floor.  BUT it can also be fun to use the movies as an excuse to get out of the house.  This depends on one's current mood.

Ah!  But what about the 'surround sound', the huge screens, the special effects and 3D?  Yes, it's cool, but I also think these can be overwhelming.  Again, that's me.  I have sensory issues. I'm still not sure if the migraine I got the day after seeing Avatar in 3D came from the movie or the cheap champagne I tried later on.  I don't care for 3D because it costs extra, and I don't like putting glasses on top of my glasses.  No, I don't want to put on contact lenses so I can look cute in the dark!

To bring this around to my central theme of tea - it's terribly awkward to take tea in a theater.  There's also the matter of not being able to pause for the inevitable bathroom break.  We need intermissions, like they have in Bollywood films.  

I'm obviously not anti-theater, but I prefer to limit my visits to absolute must-sees (or a free ticket, but sometimes not even then if I'm not in the mood.)  I can compare my preferences to going to the beach.  I like it, but once or twice a year is more than enough for me.

Viewing is better when there's a cat atop oneself.

26 February 2019

Taking Coffee With Catherine: Anxiety Woman Goes to Bird & Branch


I must have expressed on this blog, at least once, my disdain for Times Square.  I didn't mind it so much when I was younger, but it gets all the more irritating to pass as I live on.  I cannot control myself from saying "Nope,", and "I don't want to be here", when I find myself passing the area.    It's an artificially lit outdoor crowded circus: what's to like?  And I mean the clown kind of circus, not the Piccadilly kind, though I've gone off Piccadilly Circus nowadays as well.  IF I'm seeing a Broadway show, I must go there as a necessary evil, but even then I'd rather not linger outdoors.

There are a few side streets off Times Square that I can tolerate, because side streets in general are usually by nature quieter, even with theatergoer spillage.  So, to find a cafe right in "Hell's Kitchen" that is not (yet) a chain, and had welcoming space to sit and relax and have my cheat coffee, was a life bonus.  Welcome to Bird & Branch!

I think I've mentioned my cheat coffee days before.  Though I love tea, sometimes I crave coffee, but it rarely agrees with me.  I try to have a latte of some sort once a month, so the craving is settled, but my health isn't destroyed.  On this occasion, I was suffering from the remains of another cold - the gross kind where dairy is out of the question.  So I chose a Blackbird, a signature drink of theirs that contains macadamia milk and blackberry syrup.  It was gorgeous, though I will say you have to be in the mood for that blackberry flavor.

Just me, a fox. and a bird living in harmony.



When I arrived, there were a few people on one side of the shop, and an empty table that could sit four people comfortably.  As always, I prefer to sit in a less populated spot, and with my need to blow my nose grossly, I thought a slight quarantine would be best.

I felt as if I were far removed from the busiest part of Midtown.  Got some writing done, felt like I was on a mini-vacation...until a man and his daughter? came and sat down at my table without asking.  Why do people do this?  There was at least one other table open, but they had to just plop down during non-rush hour and spoil my peace.  Without asking.

Do I expect too much?  Possibly, but it just took me out of my happy mood.  I just don't get why people can't even ask.  It's making my efforts to find nice cafes in New York nearly impossible.  How do they know I'm not contagious?  (I might have been, the cold was a few days old at that point.)  Also, what if I'm meeting someone?  I just don't understand the lack of courtesy.  I never will.

I do want to return, to try their pastries which looked amazing, and their tea because I must.  I'll just have to get one of the smaller tables or learn how to give Zenobia-like looks of death (not that that deters Freddie, so never mind.)

If you're not a complete neurotic like me, or even if you are, do visit Bird & Branch if you're in the area.  The name itself makes it worth it, as does its menu.



Love planty plants in my cafes.

Pretty and pristine at once.


YOU CAN BUY STUFF!



07 February 2019

Snug

As y'all now by now, my sister Bonnie lives in Texas.  Surprisingly (to me, anyway) there are many, many coffee destinations, which also tends to translate to tea destinations.  That's because these places likely carry decent brands of tea, so although they may focus on the coffee, you can be like me and get a nice herbal blend, or even a decent Breakfast blend, and a pastry, and curl up with a book to pass the time. 

My sister knows how much I love this, and even more so, she knows how much I love places that aren't overwhelming.  So when she texted me about a new spot she visited, she said "they have a good tea selection too and some real cozy nooks", I nearly booked a ticket right then and there.

She's not the only one who knows how to lure me.  My good friend in Florida shared a picture from Instagram of a cafe with walls full of books.    That and being tired of the winter sorely tempted me to check my miles (which are much lower than they should be.)

I'm not really in the mood for travel at the moment, though.  I've had some changes at work recently, which I haven't come to terms with mentally.  Did I mention I don't like change?  The cats at home are still not best friends, so I don't want anyone else to have to deal with them yet.  My finances are pretty sad, and though a No-Spend month/year has proven difficult to carry out, I've cut down on quite a lot of unnecessary shopping.  Food and cat items are enough to knock my budget senseless!  Even so, I'm desperate for warm, cozy, snug, relaxed moments, and though I get a few of these at home when the kitties are both napping, I find a decided lack outdoors.

I get that I live in one of the busiest cities in the world.  It doesn't make for easy locating of snug hole-in-the-wall cafes.  I keep looking.  Note I said snug, not smug.  That I can find in spades.

Madame Sou Sou is not a bad choice.  It's a little pastry cafe two blocks from the Astoria Bookshop, but each time I've stopped by, despite it nearly always being the weekend, I manage to find a nice table in the corner.  Even when there are plenty of people there, it doesn't feel oppressive.  And so far I've liked everything I ordered from there.  I'm afraid to devote a whole post on this cafe, because if it catches on too much it'll become...the dreaded word...packed.

So I'll whine on.

Some people love a bustling cafe.  Lots of chatter, people to and fro, and caffeine!  For me, this is the recipe for a panic attack.  I hate loud voices, chewing noises, and blaring music.  I firmly dislike being brushed against as I'm trying to read or write.  It's bad enough I have to deal with this on my commute.  The problem is that this is almost inescapable in New York.  If you've found a quiet table, someone will want to share the table with you.  If you're reading, the guy at the next table will want to talk about what you're reading.  Though I can't say I've never initiated a conversation out of doors, it's often not what I'm after when I'm on my own.

Of course, some of this problem is down to real estate, because what else is new?  It is difficult to open and maintain a business profitably because most businesses rent, and rent in New York is ridiculously high, both for residences and shops.  So a cafe, for example, can't always offer the luxury of opening a place full of tables with their own elbow space, and cozy enclaves.  I get that.  I don't like it, but I get it.  Recently I tried out Ateaz in the Upper East Side.  Its widest appeal for me was that it had a decent amount of stretching room, and tables by the window where you could both people watch and be away from actual people.  I visited in the evening, which means it may be more populated at different times, but this at least was a plus for them.  I didn't care for their spinach pie, but I'm from Astoria, so the bar is set high for me (spanakopita!)

This is not something affecting my daily quality of life, but it would be just fantastic if I could map out more tea/coffee spots that are friendly to my senses.  Bonnie has done this for me in San Antonio - everything is bigger in Texas, but in spacing things out you end up finding privacy - but the struggle continues in New York.   It's not always easy in London, either, and I wouldn't mind having ample opportunity to find some real cozy nooks there!  Alas, the budget.

Suggestions are welcome.

The big advantage of San Antonio is bigness.

10 January 2019

This might be a break-up; it's definitely a "break"

I recently posted here about an issue I took with my favorite restaurant, Tea and Sympathy  Yes, it was a complaint, but I was sure I'd return, and of course I did since that post.  When you love something, it takes more than a little disappointment over a menu change to keep you from returning.  Now, though, I'm at the point of no return, or at least a point of doubtful return.  And it's a difficult feeling, especially at a time of so many other changes in my life (more on that another time, maybe).  

Many years ago I had a terrible experience at another favorite tea shop, Teany.  Even so, I gave them one more chance to redeem themselves, and they sort of did, but not enough for me to really want to keep going back.  They are gone now, and it's for the best.  I don't want Tea and Sympathy to go, but last week I had an experience that made me agree with their bad reviews, and I suspect my money can be spent better elsewhere.

I've had complaints before.  I don't like eating in crowded spaces, and because it's a small and popular place, you'll inevitably dodge elbows and nearby conversations whether you like it or not.  Somehow I put up with the human proximity.  I noticed sometimes the servers were not terribly nice (while some are, to be fair).  I excused this, thinking it contributes to the English atmosphere, and continued to tip like an American while ignoring the irony.  I put up with the price being a little higher for credit card users, because technology and such.  

Oh, and I observed The Rules.  This is a little list posted on the outside of the shop and on the menus.  It's a little kooky, but these things are usually derived from experience in running a business.  One rule is that you can't be seated until your whole party arrives.  Another urges pleasantness to the waitresses, and another advises you that you may be moved from your table.  The rest is about tipping and minimums, and I get that.  So all these years I always arrived with my full party, I was nice to the waitresses (when am I not, though?), and if I had to move, I'd do so, even with a mouth full of scone.  I loved the place that much that these things weren't exactly putting me off.  I felt differently last week.

My friend Cathy and I went a couple of Sundays ago for a last visit before her upcoming move to the West Coast.  It turned out we were seated too early for the menu items we wanted, so we got Afternoon Tea, which we loved, and planned to come back after work on a Wednesday night.  Maybe that's indulgent, but both of us loved Tea and Sympathy so much, and would miss going there together.

Cathy's been going for over a decade, and I've been since 1995.  If someone asked me what was my favorite restaurant, it was always the same answer, and as I've said, I have brought everyone I possibly could there to share in my joys.  If they complained about something in the service or food, or the price, I made every excuse, because, again, this was My Favorite.  Perhaps it was a misplaced loyalty.

On the Wednesday evening in question, we got to the restaurant about a quarter to six.  Usually at this time we found a relatively empty room, but this time it was packed.  So I told the waitress we were looking for a table for two, and waited outside.  It was a longish wait, but we felt it was worthwhile as long as we had a decent table.  And we did - the table for two by the table that we particularly love, so never mind the slightly numbed fingers and toes (you have to wait outside for your table).  We almost missed it, as the waitress looked as if she was going to take a couple of girls who had arrived well after us first, but we spoke up.

We were in for a good evening.  The menu had a seasonal item I'd been waiting for all year, and we discussed the possibility of a glass of red wine. And we waited.  And waited.  The wait seemed unusual, but there was only one waitress on that night, and a full house, so why complain?  It'd be all right in the long run.

After about twenty minutes, the waitress approached us.  Would she take our order?  Nope.  She informed us that we were going to have to move to the center table, as they needed our space for a party of nine who had made reservations.  

What?

First of all, that center table is not pleasant.   It's near the door, which means draft, and it was a cold day out.  I'd dealt with a similar table in Caffe Reggio a few days earlier, and it doesn't make for a happy dining.  It also means that anyone entering the premises stands right on top of you, and anyone moving around will bump into you.  But this might have been acceptable if we hadn't already been kept waiting twenty minutes at the table by the window, without even a glass of water to pass the time.  Also, the two girls who'd came in after us had just been seated by the other table by the window.  Their order hadn't been taken yet, so they could easily be moved to the table of doom.  Before we could bring that to the waitress' attention, she proceeds to go over to their table and take their order.  Again, we'd still not had our order taken.

We decided enough was enough, and left, though Cathy did communicate her unhappiness to the waitress, who didn't try to make amends at all.  

This left us with empty stomach and a bad taste in our mouths.  Cathy will likely never, ever go back even if she's in town, and I'm not sure about myself.  We wondered, and hoped we were wrong, if our less than stellar treatment was due to a racial bias (the girls who came after us were both white and one of us is not).  It's not something we want to believe, though I've heard others make that claim in the past.  I always said it was in their heads, but who knows?

And why would they take reservations for a party of nine?  Seriously?

A few months ago, Tea and Sympathy started a Go Fund Me account, because despite being busy, they had trouble paying rents.  I understand the difficulty - so many businesses in the City, and particularly the Village, have gone under not because of a lack of customers, but because rents are astronomical.  I feared its demise, but now I'm feeling tepid about the whole situation.  Why should I feel for a place that doesn't act like it wants our business?  There's a big to-do about celebrity patronage, but we tiny unknown Britophiles are obviously expendable.  

I don't want Tea and Sympathy to close down, but I don't want to return to a place that is terribly lacking in its service.  Frankly, I can't afford it.  So, for now, we're on a break.  I'll have to find another cozy spot to bring my friends.  Suggestions are welcome.

Freddie Purrcury




When I envision an ideal living situation, it's usually in a cute cottage surrounded by a manageable garden and some wildflower space. The cottage has a baking-friendly kitchen,  is stuffed with books and cozy reading nooks (at least one window seat), and there's at least three cats in residence.

I have the books in my railroad apartment in Astoria,  plants that tend to die, and have had up to three cats at once in the past. I also have mild allergies and a budget. So I've been down to Zenobia for five years now.

It wasn't a bad arrangement. Zenobia is friendly (to me), and playful for her age.  I'm sure she would be fine with keeping it just the two of us.  But lately I was drawn to the idea of having another kitty, preferably a boy,  but not a kitten.  I'd also never had the chance to adopt a cat from a shelter. So I took to the internet, and found a local spot that didn't make you give blood in order to adopt.

There are always adoptable dogs and cats in shelters, but a match is not always easy to find.  For instance, on my first visit there were some bonded pairs, which basically means you have to adopt them together.  I think that's wonderful, but I'm not up to having three cats at the moment.  It was okay with Bubuck and Moofer back in the day, but that's because Zenobia was young and she'd already met them both.  I didn't want to overwhelm her (or my above-mentioned allergies and budget). 

I didn't find my match on my first visit, but I didn't give up.  On my second try, upon entering the cat room, the first kitty I spotted was not in one of the cages, but a little room near the kitten area.  As soon as I saw the big ginger lounging behind the glass, I asked about him.  The volunteer said 'that's Frederico', and I had to know more.  So she took me inside.

'Frederico' shared the room with two other kitties names Sylvester and Tweety.  Neither of them seemed interested in me, but Frederico approached straightaway.  And sparks flew. No, literally.  It was cold out, and I gave the poor guy a little shock as he went to sniff my finger.  But he was obviously social, and I fell in love.  The volunteer read his history: he was an owner surrender, which was all I knew about his previous life.  That and he had ingested dental floss a few years ago and had to have it surgically removed.  And he was seven years old.  That was a little older than I'd expected, but I figured he'd be much calmer than a kitten, and Zenobia would appreciate that.  He also had a slightly scrunched left ear, but there weren't any health issues related to that.   I wanted to hear his voice, but all he managed were the little rrrrp and mrrr sound effects, which probably sealed the deal.  Any cat who simultaneously reminded me of Cinnamon and Moofer was okay by me.

The adoption process takes time, so I had to return the next day.  I arrived at opening time with my carrying case, and after some consultation and paperwork, we were off!  I took him on the bus, which I thought would be an easy ride as it was midday.  I was wrong, but I was also impressed by how quiet he was.  Zenobia would have been in an uproar! (not that I'm comparing...)

I'd hoped to get him into the front rooms without any fuss, and keep the two cats separated for a few days, but before I could take my coat off, Zenobia was at the carrying case sniffing, then hissing, then wheezing dramatically. I spirited him off to the front rooms, shut the doors, and let him sniff around. 

The first day and night I had a quiet boy who hid under the bed and had a normal appetite, and was cuddly when I came to visit him.  I still spent as much time as possible with Zenobia, as I wanted her to feel like I hadn't forgotten her in favor of a younger model. I was starting to regret my new name for him: Freddie Purrcury.  I thought it would be an easy change from Frederico, and a chance to finally name someone after my favorite singer.  With the ear and the ginger fur he could have been Vincent Van Gogh, but that didn't roll off my tongue.

By the second day Freddie had found his voice. And he used it!  He was no longer satisfied with two rooms (bigger than quite a few New York apartments, but after all, his namesake had lived in a mansion in Kensington.  Now, I like the sound of little kitty mews, and the occasional howl, but I also suffer from a mild but nagging case of misophonia, and persistent yowling and door scratching was interrupting my beauty sleep.  So I did what has always worked when faced (or eared?) with a snoring roommate: kept the TV on full blast.  It's loud, but it's my choice, and I was able to rest somewhat.

After a couple of days, I brought the kitties together.  Zenobia's first response was a repeat performance of wheeze-fest.  Then the hissing commenced.  This was not a love match.  In fact, it was a crisis.  She stopped eating for a couple of days, lost weight, and found herself back at the vet.  She will be okay (for now), but I reminded her she was a century too late to protest for women's votes, and got her all her favorite canned food.  And I let her tell me where she wants to eat.  Yes, she's spoiled, but she's earned it - and at last she has the evil sound effects to complement her resting death glare.  

As soon as Freddie had a chance to explore the whole apartment, I learned that he truly is a combination of many of the boy cats I've known:  he has the high jump of Cinnamon (and the sudden poofy tail), the little grunts and love bites of Moofer, the ability to find and tear through any package of cat food, cat nip, or treats that is not put away under lock and key, like Moofer and Bubuck, and the weird face licking of Chubby (my fur "nephew" of old).  Maybe girl cats do these thing too, but not the ones I've known.  Zenobia scratches furniture (and Freddie scratches the furniture Zenobia doesn't bother with, like my swivel chairs), but she's never been terribly curious about every space in existence.  She's not even a window cat.  Freddie is, which I wouldn't mind, except he nearly ended the household by turning one of the stove knobs on his way to a kitchen window.  It's a good thing I have a sensitive nose!  So I'm on my toes.

Freddie has been part of the family for nearly a month now. Aside from learning to deal with his active nature  and morning caterwauling, and Zenobia's demonic noises (they get more and more creative), I've loved having another kitty at home.  Now I just need the cottage.



The closest she'll get to him

Get off the counter!!!!

Long boy