No Collar Can Hold the Amazing Musico!

Meet Musico, the Houdini of Cats!

Watch as he stands still as a collar is carefully buckled around his neck!

Marvel at his histrionics as he jerks around trying to get at the collar and then bolts under the bed or bookcase where he will disappear for hours undeterred by cooing noises, head scratchings and appeals to common sense!

Stand in awe as he reappears with a bare neck meowing for food!

Scratch your head in bewilderment as you search for the discarded collar only to find it among the dust bunnies in a far corner under the bed ….UNBUCKLED!


Musico, the handsome orange cat, has been living with me and Mark since late January. He is a foster cat from a wonderful local shelter that rescues abandoned and feral cats in Northern Manhattan, A Tail to Tell. This weekend we will be taking him up to my parents’ house in Connecticut, where he will find a home among their three other cats in my parents’ large victorian house. Because the other cats are indoor/outdoor cats, I thought I should prepare Musico for his new life by getting him a collar with a bell (judging by the way he plays with his toy mice, the birds will appreciate a little warning) and a name tag. After multiple attempts with a couple of different collar designs, and a few days of award winning performances by Musico, I’ve just about given up on the idea of a collar and am going to call the vet and inquire about an id chip. Let’s see if Musico the Amazing Escape Artist can wiggle out of that.

All Hail the Humble Leek

Behold the beginnings of greatness:


This is my second year of growing leeks from seeds. Last year’s attempt resulted in rather puny specimens, but I’m determined that by the end of this summer I will have nice big fat leeks. In researching how to grow them successfully, I came across some interesting information, the humble leek has a rather distinguished history.

The leek  appears on the Royal Badge of Wales and is worn proudly on the cap of  The Welsh Guards


And, as a symbol of one of the countries of the British Commonwealth, leeks also appeared in embroidered and beaded form on the coronation gown of Elizabeth II, along with the thistle, shamrock and maple leaf – the thistle represented Scotland, I don’t think I need to explain the shamrock or maple leaf.



According to the gospel of Wikipedia, Norman Hartnell, the queen’s dress designer, asked if he could replace the leek with another symbol of Wales, the daffodil. He was denied. Maybe that’s why he placed the leeks right where it would be hidden in most pictures, behind the queen’s folded hands. He clearly never had the pleasure of a delicious and comforting bowl of vichyssoise.

It’s now been about two and half weeks since I sowed the seeds and my little leek seedlings are coming along beautifully. They are flourishing under flourescent lights that Mark and I set up on a shelving unit in the corner of our apartment’s living room. We had put up the removable shelves and lights last spring after the previous year’s debacle of attempting to start seeds on the very uncertain climate of my windowsill.


This year’s seeds are growing in my own seed mix combination of compost tea, vermiculite, perlite and coir – coconut husk fiber. (Note to self: Next time you order coir, do not order a giant brick of it. A coir brick has the consistency of a cement block and all attempts at “chipping” away at it with a knife or saw are nearly impossible and will only result in coir dust all over the kitchen and some very undignified swearing and sweating.)

By August, we should be sitting down to a nice leek tart, or potato and leek galette or a simple bowl of vichyssoise.

Take that Norman Hartnell.

California Dreamin’

With Winter Storm Nemo practically chasing us down the runway of JFK, Mark and I flew off to Los Angeles just in time to miss the worst of the snow and cold. Although the weather in L.A. was hardly tropical, the sun was shining, trees were green and flowers were blooming. It was wonderful.

Despite the incident involving a rambunctious cat and Mark’s wedding ring, we had a lot of fun exploring the city and seeing old friends.   The highlights of our trip were the Getty Museum and its amazing gardens, the Descanso Gardens and the Watts Towers. We also had a fun day at Universal Studios, thanks to Hannes Phinney, but I was screaming too much at the 3-D King Kong vs Dinosaur battle to take any pictures.

Our week long trip was exactly what I needed. I returned to New York refreshed and inspired to start new projects.