Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Leapin' Lizards: It's a Thai Sandwich in NYC!

Num Pang is a small shop serving excellent Thai sandwiches. It's located between Union Square and Washington Square in New York City. Num Pang has taken the traditional western sandwich and infused it with Thai spices creating something unique and enjoyable.

From what I could gather, most of Num Pang's business is take-out, but there is a small dining area upstairs. There's nothing fancy here. It has a plain utilitarian interior, which is only matched by its view of the parking garage next door.

On my last day in NYC, I decided to give Num Pang a try. I had the Grilled Spanish Mackerel & Leek sandwich with basil oil dressing. It was, perhaps, the best meal I had during my stay in the New York. The woman next to me had the vegetarian Roasted Cauliflower sandwich with soy milk and chili mayo. It looked and smelled great! She told me that Num Pang has a loyal following among the neighborhood residents, and because it has a seasonal menu, there is always something new to try. 

Num Pang
21 East 12 Street
(between University Place & 5Th Avenue)

Union Square Subway Stop

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane New York: Parked Car Dented By Tree Limb!

A Deserted Park Ave. at Union Square
Deadly Hurricane Irene unleashed its raw fury in New York City last night. Not sure what I would see when I awoke this morning, I was prepared for the worst. After days of anxiety, "The Hurricane" had finally past. It was over, and in its wake, the city was rebuilding.

At first glance, life seemed to be returning to normal, with locals out having a leisurely Sunday stroll. Yet, there was a tension in the air. Everyone had cameras in hand, hoping to document the destruction; yet, it was frustratingly difficult to find any obvious damage!

The streets were eerily quiet as a gentle mist dampened the hair of these roving bands of amateur photographers. Then, pay dirt! Down the street, a fallen tree limb had dented a car! The police had cordoned off the area as city crews assessed the situation and nervous residents were being consoled by an emergency preparedness grief counselor. Amid this chaos, a dozen local residents circled with cameras and phones.

In Union Square, the squirrels and pigeons had survived and were busily scavenging for food. Moreover, the hardiest of the local restaurateurs were reopening for brunch. Yes, New York had withstood earthquake and hurricane in a single week.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Bronx Zoo Cobra "Speaks"

When a small poisonous cobra went missing at the Bronx Zoo last March, the cobra decided to write about his adventures on Twitter. The cobra was eventually recaptured without causing any harm, all to the relief of zoo officials. The tweets continue to this day and have attracted nearly a quarter of a million followers.

The tweets are very funny and they show how clever a cobra can be. For example, today (in anticipation of Hurricane Irene), he tweeted, "Snakes can sense things that humans can't. So, I thought I should give you a heads up. I think it might rain."

On Mother's Day, he tweeted, "Some snakes eat their own young." My personal favorite dates back to the time just after he was recaptured, he commented, "I know the zoo doesn't like it when you tap on the glass, but I don't mind it. In fact, feel free to tap really hard. With a hammer even."

Finally, while he was still missing, he humorously tweeted, "Don't turn around I'm right behind you. Just kidding! lol!"

Reading the cobra tweets, makes me laugh. It's a lot better than watching endless news about Irene, especially while trapped in my New York City hotel room. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Panic in New York: Hurricane Irene

Everywhere I went today in New York City, people were talking about the impending Hurricane. It's scheduled to hit the city this Sunday, but the city is already in a panic. Stores shelves are beginning to empty, people in low lying regions have been ordered to evacuate, and the New York City transit system will close tomorrow at noon. As for me, I've had to modify my plans and will leave tomorrow, a day earlier than originally scheduled. I'm not sure how I will get to the airport. With the subway closed, my options are limited to a taxi, an airport bus (?) or walking.

Personally, I think the worry about Hurricane Irene is way overblown (pardon the pun). After all the mismanagement that occurred last winter during the New York City blizzard, city officials are now leaving nothing to chance even if it means over reacting.  

A Free Thing to Do in New York City / Kostenlose New York

One way to enjoy the New York City skyline, including excellent views of the Statute of Liberty, is to take the Staten Island Ferry. And what's better, the ferry is absolutely free! It's a relaxing ride that takes about 20 minutes in one direction. After the ride, you can simply disembark and take the return journey back to Manhattan. To get to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal take the subway to the Bowling Green Station and follow the signs. 

Während in New York City, würde ich empfehlen, die Staten Island Ferry (die Fähre) aus Manhattan nach Staten Island zu nehmen. Und was ist besser, die Fähre ist absolut kostenlos! Es gibt gute Aussicht von „the Statute of Liberty” und Manhattan.

Es ist eine enspannte Fahrt, die etwa 20 Minuten dauert in eine Richtung. Nach der Reise, aussteigen und nehmen Sie die nächste Fähre nach Manhattan zurück. Um zum Fährtterminal: Nehmen Sie die U-Bahn zum Bowling Green Station und folgen Sie der Berschiderung zum "Staten Island Terminal." 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Lyonel Feininger: Neglected in America

Lyonel Feininger Self-Portrait
It's raining in New York so it's time to visit a Museum. Lyonel Feininger: At the Edge of the World is the first American retrospective of Lyonel Feininger's work in 45 years. It's currently showing at the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Well-known in Germany, Lyonel Feininger (1871-1956) was an American born artist who left the United States at sixteen to study music in Leipzig but discovered that art was his true calling. Feininger lived in Germany for 50 years before returning to the United States in 1937 when life under the Nazi regime became increasingly difficult. He was an influential leader in German Expressionism and was an early member of the Bauhaus movement; but interestingly, he started his career as a commercial artist specializing in comics.

Avenue of Trees
A true renaissance man, Feininger composed music, tried his hand at photography, and was an accomplished wood-cutter. Much of Feininger's work deals with the theme of being an outsider. In Germany, he was known as the “the American,” and in the United States he was called “the German.” Unfortunately, he was never accepted in either country. During World War I, Feininger remained in Germany, but he had to report daily to the police as an enemy alien despite having a German wife and being a well-respected member of the German art community.

Surprisingly, Feininger was so unknown in the United States during his lifetime that the Whitney owns only one of his paintings. In fact, the Whitney Museum of American Art wasn't initially interested in the work of a “German” painter. It's somewhat ironic that one of America's foremost painters was neglected in his own country, only to be “discovered” after his death.

Avenue of Trees depicts a solitary man walking along a tree lined path. The trees seem like jail bars trapping the man. Again, this painting touches on Feininger's familiar theme of being an outsider, isolated from the community. Here, Feininger's style is "prism-ism"-- his term for cubism. In Feininger's view, prism-ism is less abstract and more decipherable that cubism.

Jesuits depicts two common figures found in a number of Feininger's work: the prostitute and the Jesuit priest. As a young man, Feininger attended a Jesuit school where the Jesuits (often considered outsiders themselves) imparted a philosophy of unilateral love and acceptance (even for prostitutes). Here, Feininger uses arches instead of geometric prisms. In my opinion, the use of aches gives the work a more natural and organic feeling. 

Seeing a Unicorn in New York

The Cloisters 
In the past, whenever I was in New York, I somehow managed to miss visiting the Cloisters. I always had some excuse: it was too far uptown; medieval art is boring; the price of admission too high, etc. However, during this visit, I finally made it. Even though the price of admission was steep ($25) and getting there time consuming, my visit to the Cloisters turned out to be very interesting. 

Central Garden at the Cloisters
The Cloisters is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and is devoted to the art and architecture of medieval Europe. It was reconstructed in the 1930s from the architectural elements of several European medieval abbeys. The cost of its construction and much of its collection was donated by John D. Rockefeller. Located in Fort Tryon Park and overlooking the Hudson River, the Cloisters is a nice escape from the hectic pace of Manhattan. You really feel like you're in the french countryside while at the Cloisters. Perhaps, the best thing about the Cloisters is its location!

View overlooking the Hudson River at Fort Tryon Park
While its collection didn't thrill me, I did enjoy the Garden Tour, which is offered daily at 1:00 pm. The highlight of the tour was a discussion of the Unicorn Tapestries and their relationship to the medieval garden.

After taking this tour, I can honestly say that I'm an expert on the Unicorn. For example, the Unicorn was a commonly used figure in medieval art that was a symbol of purity and grace. According to legend, the Unicorn had the power to make poisoned water potable and to heal sickness. Moreover, the Unicorn could only be captured through the use of trickery from a virgin.

If you visit the Cloisters, don't miss the Narwahl tusk (a tusk from the small Narwahl whale) located in the Tapestry Room near the fireplace. In medieval times, this tusk was thought to be from the Unicorn. 

The Cloisters can be reached by taking the A Train to Dyckman then walking through Fort Tryon Park up a steep hill; or for those of you who want a more leisurely excursion, take the M4 bus from the W185 Station. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dog Theft is Big Business!

Houses Overlooking the Promenade
On Monday afternoon, as I was strolling along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade (Brooklyn Heights is where Patty Duke lived in her 1960s TV show), I noticed a poster offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the return of a stolen (kidnapped) dog. A thousand dollars seemed like a lot of money, even by New York standards. Moreover, I felt skeptical that a dog would be stolen. It seemed more likely that the dog had run away or simply got lost. I wondered who would steal a dog when there were so many unwanted dogs needing homes. Wouldn't it be easier to adopt?

Well, it turns out, I was wrong. Yesterday morning on the front page of USA Today was an article entitled, “Kidnapping Dogs for Money Rises 49% this Year.” According to the article, the worsening economy has resulted in a sharp increase in dog theft. Dogs have been taken from homes, pet stores, shelters, cars, parks, and city streets. All types of dogs are stolen, but small breeds such as Yorkies and Pomeranians are abducted more often than others. Dog theft has become very lucrative. Thieves resell pets, return them to their owners for a reward or simply keep the dogs for themselves. 

A View from the Promenade
BTW:  The Brooklyn Heights Promenade offers some great views of the Manhattan skyline. I guess Patty didn't have it so bad after all, especially for someone who could "only see the sights a girl can see from Brooklyn Heights."  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Great Balls of Falafel: “Maoz” A Vegetarian Restaurant With a Dutch Twist

Just across the street from New York City's Union Square is a small vegetarian restaurant that specializes in falafel. Maoz isn't so much a traditional restaurant as it is an updated and stylish falafel stand providing some seating. Maoz is a Dutch chain restaurant that has several locations in NYC. The falafel at Maoz isn't dry or too greasy. It's just the way I like it. I discovered Maoz during my last visit to New York and found it to be just as good this trip.

This time I had the meal deal, which included a falafel sandwich, Belgian fries, and a drink for about $9.00. I've never particularly liked french fries; but I admit, the fries at Maoz are wonderful. What makes Maoz particularly good is the choice of toppings that you can add to the falafel sandwich, including pickled eggplant, tabouli salad, roasted cauliflower, and other exotic middle eastern sauces.

Maoz has seating for about 6 people and gets very crowded during peak times. So if the weather is good, I recommend take-out and eating your meal across the street in Union Square. Maoz is certified kosher and is open seven days a week.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Two Chatting Dogs: An All Too Familiar Conversation

This video has been getting a lot of play on YouTube. Although it shows two dogs having an argument (subtitled in English for those of you who don't understand Canine), it could easily be a conversation between two people. In fact, I've had very similar conversations in the past. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Sabrosa Comida Mexicana! Good Mexican Food in Portland Maine

At last, a place to find good Mexican food in Portland. Taco Trio is located in South Portland just across the Casco Bay Bridge. I found it purely by accident. (In my opinion, there's no such thing as an accident, and Taco Trio is the proof.)

Taco Trio reminds me of a typical San Francisco Mission taqueria: it's lively without being loud or ostentatious. The staff are friendly and the service is fast. And unlike the inferior El Rayo Taqueria located in Portland proper, Taco Trio has food that's both savory and spicy. I particularly enjoyed the pollo asado burrito and the fish taco. They also have a large selection of salsa that includes everything from mild to very very hot.

They seem to be very accommodating as well. I overheard a customer ask for a chicken mole burrito (chicken mole taco was the special) even though it wasn't on the menu. And they made it for him without a fuss! Now that's something, especially for a Maine restaurant.

As Mexican restaurants go, I would give Taco Trio a B+; but this being Portland, it ranks an A. Taco Trio is open for lunch Monday – Saturday (11am – 3pm) and for dinner
Wednesday – Saturday (5pm – 9pm). 

Monday, August 15, 2011

Un Polar Français: Mieux Que La Version Anglaise

What's more quintessentially English than an Agatha Christie novel? So I had some trepidation when I decided to watch a French film adaptation of one of my favorite Christie novels, Towards Zero (L'Heure zéro). It has all the Christie elements, including plenty of suspects, red herrings, and the final scene where all is revealed.

The movie has a certain French sensibility that actually works with the story; and, unlike the British 2007 version with Geraldine McEwan as Miss Marple, this version is truer to the original novel. Don't expect to see Miss Marple, but instead, Superintendent Battle. Battle was an early Christie detective known for his quiet intelligence.

L'Heure zéro is available on Netflix's streaming, and I highly recommend it for an enjoyable evening's entertainment. I know that some people are put off by subtitles; but in this case, the movie is worth watching. 

Saturday, August 13, 2011

There's no Point to Regretting Things that Have Gone to the Trouble of Happening

It's difficult to imagine how the New Zealander movie Dean Spanley got made. It's an unconventional story to say the least. I'm not sure how I would classify it. Is it a drama, comedy, or supernatural mystery? Take a dash of reincarnation, a pinch of eastern spiritualism, and a sprinkling of Edwardian charm, then mix. The result is an unusual and imaginative film.

I found myself bored for the first half hour, and not quite understanding where the movie was going. I was about to stop watching before the movie took an unexpected turn. Without giving too much away, this is a story of remembering those people and creatures that have been important in our lives and whose memories have stayed in our hearts. It's a nuanced and heartfelt movie without being cloying or sentimental. 

The casts includes Jeremy Northam, Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Judy Parfitt, and Peter O'Toole. All the performances are wonderful, but the work of O'Toole and Neill are near perfection.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Völkerschlachtdenkmal Leipzig (Monument to the Battle of Nations)

Although Leipzig makes for a long day trip from Berlin, it's worth a visit. It's one of Germany's main music, art, and cultural centers. And what's great, most of Leipzig's attractions are located in its compact city center. 

One thing to see in Leipzig is the Völkerschlachtdenkmal (Battle of Nations Monument). It was built to commemorate the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. The monument has a viewing platform at its top, which affords fantastic views of the city.

For architecture buffs, the Völkerschlachtdenkmal is also a good example of Wilhelmine architecture. Its carved figures, including the Totenwächter (Guards of the Dead), evoke German heroism and mythological figures. When I visited the monument a few years back, I felt like I was on the stage of a Wagner Opera.

The monument is currently undergoing restoration, so check to see if it's open to the public. To reach the Völkerschlachtdenkmal take tram line 15 and stop at Völkerschlachtdenkmal. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Flora of the Day: Mammoth Sunflower (Helianthus annuus 'mammoth')

This year, I planted Mammoth Sunflowers in the corner of the parking strip to hide the unsightly telephone pole. They're now blooming, and they're amazing!

The Mammoth Sunflower (Helianthus annuus 'mammoth') is the grand daddy of all sunflowers rising up to 8-12 feet in height with a huge sunflower head. A note on these sunflowers is that when they mature, they always face east, so think about where you want to plant them.

Not only are these flowers good for harvesting sunflowers seeds, but they are beautiful as well. And if you don't mind sharing the sunflower seeds, you will find plenty of birds coming to your yard to enjoy them. These flowers are a BIG hit with the neighborhood kids as well. 

The Mammoth Sunflower is a type of plant that can't be missed or ignored! If you want to dramatically change the way your yard looks this is a very simple and fun way to do it.  

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

It's a Happening: Portland Slow Riders

Portland Slow Riders is an informal group of bicycle enthusiasts that meet each month during the First Friday Art Walk. They gather at Monument Square around 7:00 – 7:30 PM and take a leisurely one hour ride from the Western to Eastern Promenade.

Each monthly ride has a theme so that cyclists can dress up should they wish. This month's theme was Roamin' gods. Music is played during the ride to add to the festive atmosphere, compliments of the lead rider's boom box, which is attached to his or her bicycle. It's a non-competitive ride, where the group's goal is FUN. And unlike Critical Mass, a San Francisco bicyclist group, whose goal is political advocacy and street disruption, Portland Slow Riders has no agenda other than enjoyment. 

Eric Enjoying a Pause 
As you ride through the streets of Portland, bystanders stare in amazement, clap encouragement, and always smile. BTW: the smiling is infectious. It's been a long time since I've smiled this much. It's a wonderful way to connect with the community and get a little exercise too. Check them out at Facebook. 

Is the Grass Greener in Germany?

In recent days, the USA credit rating has fallen, and the US stock market has plummeted. Many people think the USA is headed in the wrong direction. When I look around the world and see countries like China and Germany prospering, even in these dire economic times, I wonder if the USA should try to emulate their economic approach. However, as the old adage says, “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

According to a recent article published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), what country has the fastest-growing inequality and poverty of any developed economy? If you're thinking the USA, you would be wrong. Another clue: workers in this country are paid some of the lowest wages in western Europe. Perhaps, it's Greece, Portugal or some other Euro-zone basket case country.

Well, the answer might surprise you. It's Germany. I know this sounds crazy since we think of Germany as the land of the industrial miracle and social equality. Moreover, during the last year, the German stock market has grown astronomically as the country has climbed out of recession (while the USA has just limped along). For most of us, Germany is a shinning example of what a country can achieve if it keeps its public finances in check, creates a diverse economy, and implements deregulation (some of the goals advocated by the US Republican party).

By all appearances, Germany seems exceedingly prosperous. Yet, Germany has no minimum wage, with approximately 2 million workers paid around $6.50 an hour (a high number given the size of the German workforce). Furthermore, German workers saw their wages (after inflation) actually fall by 4% in the 2000s. So while I am not an economist, these figures sound alarming.

Likewise, China, for all its economic might, has a totalitarian regime with extreme social inequalities. So, what's my point? It's just that we tend to over simplify our view of other countries. The Germans and Chinese have done exceedingly well these past few years, but they have their problems too. And while the USA is still recovering from the Bush era irresponsibility's, it's too early to count the USA out.  

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Laugh of the Day: Drop The Dead Donkey - Teddy Bear

Drop The Dead Donkey was a hit British TV comedy series from the 1990s. Here's a clip from the show. Full of topical humor, the series is as relevant today as when it was first broadcast. Have a laugh! The series is available for viewing on YouTube.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Snake on Car: It's a Water Moccasin

Imagine finding a Water Moccasin on the hood of your car while driving. This is one scary video!

Cat of the Month: Miss Kitty "Ain't No Lady"

This month's cat of the month is Miss Kitty. Miss Kitty is 18 years young and resides in Alabama with her person, Hilary Evans. Miss Kitty enjoys sleeping, eating, and grooming.

Contributing blogger, Hilary Evans, shares an intimate episode from Miss Kitty's early years. The following story is an expanded version of a story that was originally published in the May 1996 issue of Cats Magazine

Miss Kitty
Women upset everything. When you let them into your life, you find that the woman is driving at one thing and you’re driving at another.
-George Bernard Shaw from Pygmalion

When Miss Kitty joined our household, hitherto occupied by three neutered male cats and myself, she was known as Little Kitty. This was meant as a temporary measure to tide us over until the moment of inspiration struck, leaving the perfect name in its wake. Eventually, one of my friends came up with the idea of naming Little Kitty after Miss Kitty, the Gunsmoke character who, after all, was always hanging out with the guys.

Miss Kitty had come to the household via a friend at work. She and her husband were building a new house outside of town. Several houses were springing up in the area, but it was still sparsely populated compared to Huntsville itself. Apparently, Miss Kitty began hanging out at the construction site. None of the construction workers had seen her before. She seemed to have just popped up out of nowhere.

My friend worried about her. The construction site was not a safe place for a cat. Was she getting food and water? After a while, my friend began trying to find a home for the kitten, who was “cute and very friendly.” I didn’t want another cat. Counting me, there were four of us in the family now; and that was already two more than Hogey wanted. Still the image of the kitten out at that construction site at night all alone stuck with me. I worried my friend would go to the site one day and not find the kitten or worse, find her dead.

I agreed to take her.

The next day, my friend brought the long-haired, black-and-white kitten to work. It was a cool day; so I put the kitten in my car, cracked the windows, and went back inside. My plan was to take her straight to the veterinarian’s clinic, then home. The clinic would not be open for a few minutes.

When I came back out of the building, several smokers had convened in their usual spot. This morning they were all looking at my car.

That your kitten?” one asked.

I looked at my car where the kitten was pressed against the back windshield, looking for all the world like a black-and-white, suction-cupped Garfield.

Well, I guess he is now.” I assumed the “he,” which was consistent with my past experience.

We were about to report you for animal cruelty,” one fellow said. I knew this guy, and he knew me, which meant he knew I was a vegan, animal rights supporter. I just smiled weakly and walked to my car. Carefully, I opened the door. Immediately, I was holding a little puff of purring fur. She had some kind of purr.

At the clinic, they checked gender. I knew the kitten would be male since mine always were. I let them check anyway.

She’s a little girl,” announced my veterinarian.

I held her and jumped up and down. “A little girl. A little girl.” I would have been fine with a little boy, though.

After shots and tests and an examination, the kitten was ready to come home. I only hoped my home was ready for her.

To my relief, Miss Kitty joined the fold with little difficulty. Hogey treated her basically as he treated any other cat. You stay away from me, and I’ll stay away from you. His world-class growls and hisses warned Miss Kitty when she violated his space; and she, like her brothers before her, heeded the warnings.

Number two, Ashley, viewed Miss Kitty as he viewed most things in life. You take the good with the bad. He loved her as a playmate but wasn’t all that excited about her further dividing my attention.

Hogey and Ashley had reacted to Miss Kitty as expected, but I didn’t know what to expect from Domino. I was apprehensive. I had never introduced a new cat to Domino (he had been the new cat before), and he had lived out on his own on the streets for far longer than the others. He was tough, but I didn’t think he was mean. This would be a test. How would he take to a new arrival? Would this be treated like an invasion of territory?

I needn’t have worried. Domino immediately fell head over heels in love with his new sister.

When Miss Kitty lay down on the bed, Domino would join her there and immediately begin bathing her. If she got a little feisty, he would gently hold her down until he could finish the job. When the two played, Domino tapped Miss Kitty with his paws. He always pulled in his claws; and somehow, he seemed to pull in his teeth as well.

Over the next few weeks, Miss Kitty adjusted to her new home. I spent a lot of time congratulating myself. What a fine family, I kept thinking, and what a nice addition is Miss Kitty.

Miss Kitty had always been a remarkably friendly and happy kitten. How was I to notice when she became a bit friendlier than usual? Of course, I was a bit perplexed when she kept meowing from far-off parts of the house only to have nothing to show for it when I arrived.

A day or two after I first noticed the meowing episodes, I discovered Miss Kitty rolling from side to side on her back and making what can only be described as a “come get me” sound. Domino sat next to her, perfectly still, looking puzzled. Miss Kitty’s soft, chortling sound worked from a gentle “come get me” to a “YOU IDIOT! WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR? COME GET ME!”

I couldn’t believe my eyes. My little baby had become a young lady over night; and worse yet, I use the word “lady” quite loosely.

Miss Kitty,” I said, shocked as I watched my little girl throwing herself shamelessly at Domino’s paws, “I didn’t raise you that way!”

Miss Kitty paid me no heed. She continued writhing and urging. Domino, who would do anything in the world to please Miss Kitty, finally assumed the traditional position. Standing over her and grabbing her by the neck, he began to thrust his hips. There now could be no doubt. Miss Kitty was in heat.

Each of my cats had been altered as soon as he had come of age or, in Domino’s case, when he had joined the family. Miss Kitty was to be no exception. She was scheduled for spaying in three to four weeks. She was either a quick study, or my veterinarian had missed on her guess of Miss Kitty’s age.

I called my veterinarian and was told to bring Miss Kitty in when she came out of heat.

As I usually do in such instances, I turned to one of my books on cats. I looked up “heat.” The text explained that a heat cycle has four phases. The first phase lasts one to three days; the second, ten to fourteen days; and the third, one day (after which, if the cat has not mated, “she enters a period of sexual inactivity . . .”, a.k.a. the Promised Land). The fourth phase, a period of reproductive rest, did not concern me. As I read, I heard Miss Kitty calling loudly from another room in the house. I was not heartened by the estimate of twelve to eighteen days of this. Of course, the optimistic portion of my consciousness tried to tell me she was in stage two already. Maybe, my realistic portion countered, but she was just in the beginnings of it. I decided to track her progress through the stages, watching hopefully for the third, final, and blissfully short stage of sexual activity during which the female “aggressively rejects the stud if intercourse is attempted.”

At this point in my reading, Miss Kitty, giving up on receiving an answer to her calls made from the living room, joined the cowering masses in the bedroom. She immediately walked over to Domino, fell on her back, and started rolling around, emitting the necessary acoustics.
The telephone rang. The caller was my friend Dave. I skipped the preliminaries and plunged into the family plight.

Well,” I said, “Miss Kitty is in heat.”

How could Little Kitty be in heat? She’s not old enough.”

Dave had resisted Miss Kitty’s permanent name from its beginning. He had met Miss Kitty as Little Kitty; and, in his opinion, she should remain Little Kitty. I ignored his stubbornness. I had bigger problems.

Apparently,” I explained, “Miss Kitty is older than we thought; or she has gone into heat younger than predicted.”

Can your veterinarian spay Little Kitty now?”

I looked at the writhing, calling, wanton cat on the floor and said, “Dave, believe me, she is no longer Little Kitty.”

Uurrah!” Miss Kitty called out as if to reinforce my words.

Hmmph,” came the reply from the other end of the line. Apparently, this was one of those “you have to be there” situations. I hung up, feeling totally cut off from the outside world, trapped with a sex-crazed, female cat and three confused, neutered male cats.

The next few days were tiring, particularly for Domino, Ashley, and Hogey. When Domino wasn’t available, Miss Kitty turned to Ashley for satisfaction. Ashley stared at Miss Kitty as though she’d lost her mind; and by this time, she practically had. After a while, Ashley figured out part of what Miss Kitty wanted and his role in the matter. He halfheartedly grabbed her by the neck with his mouth.

One day, I was nearly bowled over by Hogey, running for his life down the hall, followed closely by a small, black-and-white blur I recognized as Miss Kitty. Hogey, whose main goal in life is to be left alone by all the felines in the world, turned his head on the run to hiss back at Miss Kitty. She didn’t even break stride. He turned and hissed again. She continued her pursuit. Hogey kept running and hissing through the house, his eyes round with fear and shock.

Morale continued to decline. I found myself actually looking forward to leaving for work. Then one morning as I lay in bed, Miss Kitty smacked Domino in the face. She meant business. She wasn’t kidding around. Miss Kitty never acted like that, especially with her beloved Domino. I knew what this meant . . . stage three!

I hollered, “YIPPEE!” But looking at Domino, who sat on the bedside table with a stunned, hurt expression on his face, I felt a bit contrite.

It’s okay, Domino,” I said and stroked his shoulders and back. “We’ve made it now. It’s all over but the aggressive rejection.”

About the Author

Hilary J. Evans lives in North Alabama with a number of cats and dogs and a lot of wildlife (not to be confused with living the wild life as nothing could be further from the truth).  These days she spends more time writing technical reports than humor pieces, but she’s storing humor and hopes to let it out again in the future.