Lost and Found


Goddamn cats. No, really. This week has had the majority of it dedicated to finding one grey beast on the lamb.

Renfield sketch from January 2013

I made this sketch from a photo last year.

It all started on Sunday. Last weekend I decided to create a surprise for my housemate. I bought some new plants and pots at the local home improvement store. The housemate was going away for the weekend, and we had had a conversation the prior week about her wanting to fix up the yard as a project. So while I was shopping with a friend, I was inspired.


After spending far too long on Saturday painting the pots, Sunday I was a bit rushed in putting everything out before she’d come home. I guess I wasn’t paying as much attention to the door as I could have been. You see, our screen door on the side of the house doesn’t shut firmly. I guess a few good kitty headbutts and it’s freedom time.

Sleepy Renfield

Here’s a cloying cute photo of the little bugger.

In his 12 years on this Earth, Renfield, being of the curious and outgoing nature that he is (also known as being the occasional “asshole”), has left his indoor domicile approximately a half dozen times. When he was only a few years old, he made his way out once late at night when a housemate who worked a late shift let him out, and his absence went unnoticed until he came tapping on the window in the morning. When I lived in another house on the East End of the city, he once hid in a drain pipe until we could extract him like a feline Baby Jessica. At least twice he roamed the apartment building I lived in, but luckily not making it into the outside world. When I decided to make the most recent move, I had micro chip IDs implanted in both my cats, just in case.

Renfield close up selfie

Who wouldn’t do everything to protect this little face?

This was the longest the little monster has been loose on his adventure. I didn’t recognize he was officially “missing” until Monday morning, but I instantly went into crisis mode. First I made a missing post on Facebook that everyone was kind enough to share. Luckily for me, I also know a great deal of avid animal people, who offered tips and help. Over the course of the 4 days he was missing, I posted on Nextdoor, Craigslist, Telephonepole, and placed ads in both local newspapers and the Pennysaver. Monday I roamed the neighborhood, even in the rain, until dark with a bag of treats, calling his name like a crazy person, checking every dumpster and bush for probably at least a mile radius.. to no avail.

Renfield Loves Beef Jerky

I started by putting food out with tempting treats, only to find the food disappearing with no cat. I started by setting up his favorite hang out cube with a little umbrella, but this progressed as I people gave me tips. There was a box, and well worn shirts to give off my “smell”, a litter box, and a trail of dirty litter to try to help him find his way home. Tuesday I had lost fliers made, got baby monitors for the food areas, talked to some neighbors while I put up lost posters, and friends brought me a couple cage traps.

Bathroom Ren

This was the closest I had to a full length photo, where he wasn’t hanging on my boobs. Even if it is 2 years old.

There were hopeful sightings. During my travels Tuesday, some local children said they spotted him the night before on one of the back roads, coming from the hill by the train tracks. Wednesday morning the woman across the street that feeds strays spotted him devouring the food she sets out for the local strays. She was unable to grab him because he hid under her porch.

Wednesday I took the experts advice, and waited around the house, a bit of listless mess. I was, as always impatient, and beginning to think I would never see my cat again. There was a Renfield shaped hole in my heart, as I thought I kept hearing his little meeps and harumphs around the house. I told myself that if he returned, I would no longer complain about his neediness. I would allow him as much lap access as his furry little heart desired, regardless of my own priorities. As if he his leaving was some how a spite to me personally, like a petulant child. Despite how spoiled he is, all I could think of was what what I had done wrong. I even got to the point of lighting candles and saying the memorized prayers from my Catholic upbringing. I am not above putting some leans on the metaphysical, when all else had failed me.

That evening Jocelyn had a late rehearsal. I was about to make myself some ramen (as I wasn’t really big on the eating thing the last couple of days), when I heard he call from outside that he was spotted slinking up the street towards the house. I don’t think I ever moved that fast, bolting out the door with no shoes on. He ran into the neighbor’s yard and we gave chase with only the flashlight of Jocelyn’s phone to light the way. He had a straight shot down the steps behind the house into the alley, but luckily, he is not too well versed in the art of alluding the chase. His thinking was that hiding behind bushes would deter us. He thought incorrectly, of course. I was already trampling dried pine needles in stocking feet, with no thought for my own welfare. I was unconcerned with my comfort. We took alternating sides and cornered him behind a bush, and when he made his move Jocelyn scruffed him firmly and we brought him inside. He meowed like a chastised child, with his “adventure” unfinished, by his standards.

Ren's return ren6

There was a little sniffing and growling from his feline life partner, Pork. And China seemed miffed that she had finally gone from 3 cats to 2, and then back up to 3 again. Luckily, he did not have a single nick, cut, scratch, or scrape upon his person. In fact, he did not appear to have lost an ounce of weight over the four days of “foraging in the wild”, presumably because he had devoured all the stray cat feeding stations within 2 blocks.

Now he has a brand new glittery breakaway collar with and ID tag. I had for years given up on making him wear a collar because like a deficient Harry Houdini, no matter how I adjusted it, he always seemed able to get the collar just over his jaw. This would cause panic like a wild man when I tried to alleviate his predicament.This being pretty much the only time he’s caused actual bloodshed in his lifetime. I have also purchased flea drops and worm medication, because despite his intact status, I don’t know exactly where the little fucker has been. (China has already turned her nose up at the wet food with the worming medication, suspicious of kitty poisoning.)

Renfield's collar

Look at that “fancy script”…

And what have we learned? We’ve learned that we have a good network to rely on in times of distress. We’ve learned to take some extra precautions for safety when you have a sneaky asshole for a cat. We’ve learned that no matter how comfortable your tits are, and no matter how much stinky food you offer, that the call of the wild is always persuasive. Welcome home, you little brat…


Reunited and it feels so good…


Instant Manicures


They go by a variety of names: nail wraps, instant manicures, etc. Every company seems to have them now. I’ve gotten them from Sally Hansen, Sephora, Essie, ModCloth, and Jamberry. With slight variations, they all work just about the same way. You get a series of strips with a design on them. You prep your nail by making sure the cuticles are pushed back and cleaning the nail with an alcohol swab to make sure there are no oils on them. Match up the size to the nail, take it off the backing, line it up carefully, and smooth it down to make sure there are no air bubbles. Then trim and file off the extra. Some kinds require a warming element, ¬†either by hand or with an external device, such as a hair dryer, before application. These adhesive manicures usually last anywhere from a couple days to a week, depending on the brand, the application, and the amount of abuse you inflict on them.

You can style them different ways. The most obvious would be wearing them on all your nails.


These star patterned nails were from Sephora. They were the shortest lasting, but they also had to live through my heavy crafting. Which is probably doom for any manicure.


This was from the Jamberry Junior’s collection. I loved the little foxes and the plaid. I’m able to wear the junior’s because I have tiny little baby carny nails.

You can wear them with an accent nail, like this:


These little Spring lemon wraps are from Jamberry. They do seem to last a while, but I’m still learning how to get a good even finish on them with the file. But Jamberry does have some of the most fun patterns. A look at their catalog and you’ll want everything. They are a little more on the pricey side, but you can cut the strips in half to get more out of them, depending on the length of your nail.

Or you can do more than one painted nail. This one was themed with “fabric textures”. The matte black is Zoya’s “velvet” and the matte red is a “leather texture” polish. The strips come from Sally Hansen, which honestly are the ones I’ve had the most success with thus far and the fairest priced. They are a lace pattern to round out the theme.


Then you can go totally nuts, like this:


The applique is on the ring finger, like an accent nail. It’s a silver snake print from Essie. The pinkie nail is magnetic polish from Nails Inc. There’s a plain silver on the middle finger and thumb. The index finger has bar glitter from the Ciate kit. It was a fun manicure. The glitter was the first to go, the ring finger was the last.

I still have some from ModCloth to try out, but I thought I’d show you what I’ve been up to so far. Have fun, play around with them, and you can have a bunch of really versatile looks. Enjoy!



Fish Fry Follow Up


Well, next Sunday is Easter. And we may have hit the max capacity of fish fries we were able to. I made it to at least 2 more since the last review.

The Serbian Club

The Serbian Club is on Sarah St in the South Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh, near 25th St. Think of your local Moose Lodge, but with twice the space and a lovely looking bar.

The actual set up was once again confusing, with an ordering station roughly in the middle, most likely manned by volunteers doing their best to keep everything straight in the midst of chaos.

The actual fish sandwich was probably the largest of the batch.


We ordered a variety of sides, and there was left over sushi and beer at home. Our smorgasbord ended up looking something like this:


Aside from the sandwich itself, the sides and dessert were mostly forgettable. But it wasn’t bad. I would go again sometime when I could stay and have a beer, I suppose.

St. Irenaeus, Oakmont PA

I’m sorry if I didn’t make super detailed notes from this fry. I was a bit nervous. It was the first time I was meeting my boyfriend’s parents, so I was a little preoccupied.

I did notice the “chicken nugget” option on the menu.


This was an interesting dine-in scenario, almost like a sit down restaurant, but the kind where you have to share you table with strangers, which is always precarious. It was probably the perfect storm of anxiety for someone with a very tenuous thought-to-mouth filter. But I made sure to do my best, and it seemed to be well enough.


They had free drinks and a salad bar. It was a pretty good deal, all be told. And a smoother system. Still, I have yet to find a haluski up to my high standards, despite my multiple attempts. I suppose I’m a bit spoiled that way.

I may try to get to one more on Friday, but I seem to have most likely finished my run for the season, and I have no complaints about that. I filled the void left in my system from the year before and I had excellent company on the adventure.

Soon it will be time for farmer’s market finds and other seasonal quests. I’m looking forward to it.

Sprucing It Up


I live in the city. Being in the city, even having a small backyard is a privilege. It’s been a very long winter, so everyone is pretty geared up to be outside. We want bright, happy outdoor spaces and projects that leave us with skin warmed by the sun.

After seeing, and smelling, all the Spring plants in the air at the local home improvement store, I decided to decorate that small, postage stamp sized back slab as a nice surprise for my housemate while she was away for the weekend. We already had 4 herb plants from the previous season, in little 4 inch pots (sage, rosemary, oregano, and lavender). In addition to this I got a purple basil plant, a tomato plant, and a strawberry plant, and 6 inch terracotta clay pots to decorate for them.

I used the small table already outside as the inspiration for my color palette.


Then I set about priming the pots, because I wanted the color to be vibrant, and not muddied by the original clay color underneath. My suggestion to anyone setting about a similar project would be to find a more efficient way to do this. I had to paint at least 4 layers with the acrylic to even get the white this opaque.


First color I added was a purple rim.

First color I added was a purple rim.

I painted the base a fuchsia pink with orange and red stripes. I used masking tape to separate the colors.




I painted the plates underneath the pots solid red on the top and purple on the bottom. I would have sealed them with clear acrylic spray, but it took so many coats to get this far that it was already almost 5 in the morning, and I was done. Just… done. So far it hasn’t bled much, luckily.

We already have a little collection of garden gnomes outside, so I interspersed the gnomes and plants.


The furniture on the patio is mostly wicker, so I put some raffia bows on some of the plants, after lining them up against the fence.

potA pot7pot8pot9

Here's the oregano.

Here’s the oregano.

This one is the silver sage.

This one is the silver sage.

The rosemary.

The rosemary.

And the lavender plant.

And the lavender plant.

And the new additions to the family: strawberry, tomato, and basil.


So, I’m pretty happy with the end result. It’s got color, and life, and function. Maybe I’ll even get past my brown thumb and learn how to take care of plants properly.




I know how a caged tiger feels.

I know what it’s like to itch underneath your skin.

I know what it’s like to know you’re better than this, more than this.

That desire to be more than these 4 walls,

to have something mean something, for once.

I want to feel confidence again.

I want to feel the things you feel when you’re alive.

I want to be a flame and not a stutter.

I need to be a fire.

I was fucked from the gate.

The revision, the hesitation, the uncertainty.

The way I open my mouth and all the wrong things fall out.

But, I know what it’s like to twitch until the sun comes up.

To hear your own words echo off into the dark in your head before the sun.

To have the deafening roar of the words I didn’t have the courage to say.

I know the heat of the bald, naked truth.

The things no one wants to say, the undercurrent.

The prickling of my fur, with fear.

The fear that someone could see me and know me

and still love me.

And not like a myth, but the real.

And if anyone can hold on through the storms and unrest,

then I will give everything I’ve got to let them know how loved they are.