A little gray tabby

The story of Bink actually starts with a different cat: a little one, also gray, but with white feet, who started hanging around outside our old Payson house in 1999. I was ten, Hannah was nine, Mio was six, and the boys were three years and three months, respectively. Hannah and I had tried with little success to domesticate stray cats before and we loved playing with the Blanchards’ cat Ed/Viper, so we pretended the new friendly kitty was ours. Our dad said, “You can play with it, but don’t feed it,” so we didn’t.

A few days later, the little gray cat was still there. She cried and tried to get in the back door any time it swung open. Our dad said, “You can feed it, but don’t name it.”

A few days after that: “You can keep it, but don’t let it in the house.”

And a few days after that: “Okay, let the cat inside.”

Those words would change the next fifteen years of our family’s life.

We named the little kitty Athena and she was the best cat. She was friendly and playful and would watch over Adam and Grant while they slept. She never bit or scratched. The vet thought she had been abused because of some damage to her teeth, but she wasn’t afraid of humans at all.

Only a month after we named her, Athena was hit by a car. Our neighbors, the Clarks, noticed her early Sunday morning and took care of burying her so we wouldn’t see. My dad told me at church and I cried and cried all through sacrament meeting. Athena had been our first real non-fish pet (though Gill, Jenny, and Oliver the Cricket were all pretty great) and we were understandably upset.

My parents said we could get a new cat, so we roamed south Utah County looking for the perfect feline. We saw some out in Santaquin that had six toes. “See how cute they are?” said the owner. We all winced. The sixth toe was not an improvement.

We went to see a batch of four kittens out in maybe Salem (my ten-year-old memory doesn’t serve). Three were black and one was a tiny gray tabby with giant ears and a black nose. Supposedly the kittens’ mother had been killed by a coyote (unconfirmed) so the kittens were actually much younger than any other adoptable cats we’d seen. We picked the tabby and took it to the vet for shots.

The vet assured us that it was a female cat, so we took her home and named her Dot Artemis Pullan (I think the Greek middle name was an homage to Athena, or maybe we just had a Hellenistic thing going on). Little then-Dot was too tiny to climb the stairs; s/he would jump up on the riser and hold on with his claws until he fell off. He could fit in the palm of my hand, and we fed him kitten formula from a salad plate. His first night at home he slept in a box in my room, padded with a blanket.

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(Somewhere at the Pullan home there is a great picture of me wearing jean shorts holding tiny Bink, but I can’t find it.)

When we took Dot in to get fixed, the vet surprised us with news that he was actually a male cat. We decided to change his name to Bennington, Bink for short, after the baby in a then-Pullan children favorite movie Baby’s Day Out. The gender change was confusing for Adam for a little while, who kept referring to that time “back when Bink was a girl.”

Perhaps acting on a kitten impulse, Bink would climb up on you and knead your arm or stomach or leg with his paws and lick your shirt. He blended into the gray carpet in the kitchen, which more than once led to one of us stepping on him by accident. He would sharpen his claws anywhere but the scratching post, and he always wanted to spit up his hairballs in the middle of the carpet, not on the wood or tile where it would be easy to clean up. He scratched and bit and would make this unearthly howling sound when we tried to trim his nails or take him to the vet. Sometimes he would hang on the window screens, which made him look like a lizard (and made my mom more than a little upset). He had a beautiful coat and coloring and his little black nose eventually turned pink. Adam–generally caped at this point in his life–used to drag a tangled ball of ribbon, which we affectionately dubbed “The Ribbon Animal” after him and Bink would chase him and pounce.

After we moved to the new house (with new carpet and new window screens) we decided to have Bink declawed. He looked so pathetic when he arrived home from the vet with little bandages on his four paws. That night we left him in the downstairs bathroom so he wouldn’t hurt himself trying to climb on anything; when we got home, we realized closing in the door in the bathroom made it incredibly hot. He was so excited to get out and we all felt awful.

Bink had the adorable habit of drinking out of the toilet. Thankfully (maybe?) he had high standards and only drank fresh water. He’d stand by the toilet and whine until you came over and flushed it for him. Then he’d poke his little paws over the seat and drink. He always wanted to be in the bathroom when you were taking a bath or showering too. If you didn’t let him, he’d poke his paws under the door and meow. He also loved jumping on the counter, which he was absolutely not allowed to do, so every so often at the Pullan house you could hear feet pounding as someone ran into the kitchen “Bink, get off there!”

Bink did a lot of lounging. He slept in a little ball (as shown below) and would follow the path of the sun across the living room floor. He respected my dad as the alpha male and loved Grant and Adam, but pretty much ignored the rest of us unless he wanted something. He hated storms. You could tell rain was coming because he’d try to fit himself under the cupboards in the kitchen. He also hated the vacuum and would run away as soon as he heard it revving up.

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Bink was a fixture of the Pullan house. When you were there alone, it was comforting to have his companionship. He intuited when we were sick and would curl up next to us on the couch. He always seemed to observe what we were doing with disinterest, or maybe supervisory authority, and then out of the blue he would be playful and wild, like he was a kitten again. When I came home to visit during college, Bink would smell me and rub up against my legs, almost like he was confirming I was who he remembered, and letting me know I was allowed back in his house.

When my mom told me Bink was slowing down, I was incredulous. “He’s not that old,” I said, not realizing it wasn’t true. We got both Bink and Grant in 1999, which made Bink fifteen years old. He never seemed like an aging cat to me, perhaps because he spent so much time sleeping anyway.  After a heartbreaking few weeks that I don’t begin to comprehend, my family decided to put Bink down.

They buried him out on the Pony Express Trail, which seemed right even if Bink would have hated the drive. It’s a place we’ll visit, and a place where we’ve made good memories.

It was weird to go home for Mariel’s wedding and not see a curled up kitty sleeping on the back of the sofa. More than once I mistook a sweater on a chair or the coffee table as the cat. I missed (even if Jason didn’t) Bink pawing at the bedroom door, sad that we wouldn’t let him in to sleep with us. His absence made the house seem just a little more empty, like someone we knew and loved had gone away. I’m not an animal person and I never thought I’d be broken up about a cat, but letting Bink go was hard. He was a good cat and we miss him.

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(I started writing this back when Bink died in July, but I had to stop because I couldn’t stop crying. Even five months later this was tough to finish.)

 

christmasy things

Eight days out and I think we’re officially done with Christmas shopping. Jason braved the mall on his own on Saturday while I went to lunch with Lara and Monica.
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We went to the Georgetown bookstore, then to Jettie’s, where I had an out-of-this-world turkey, brie, and fig jam sandwich. Monica is so close to heading to college and I am so excited for her!IMG_1525.JPG
When I got home, Jason and I got to video chat with our new niece for the first time!

On Sunday I walked to church (per usual. I’m toying with making 100% walking a goal for 2015.) and we made this Tunisian grilled pepper salad for dinner.

I was a little nervous en route to the metro on Tuesday when I saw this:
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Unusually for metro, though, things weren’t as bad as they seemed. By the time my train was in the district, the melee had been resolved and a few exceedingly full trains the only visible byproduct.

Not much else to report on the Frost front. I’m 29 miles, four books, and Mormon, Ether, and Moroni away from my big 2014 goals. We’re counting down the days until Christmas and looking forward to spending time with family and friends. I think we’ll make an apple pie this weekend, just for fun.

christmas tree VI

Jason was a good sport about this year’s Christmas tree picture. I’m pretty sure that has something to do with setting the camera on the this-year-acquired tripod instead of four textbooks stacked on an ironing board. I love this tradition, even though–or perhaps because–they aren’t the best ever photos of us (check out my gimpy leg in 2009). Happy Christmas from the Frosts!

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2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009

 

christmas tree, etc.

You know you’re not newlyweds anymore when the interval between planning to put up the Christmas tree and actually doing it = nine days. We had every intention of doing it the day after Thanksgiving, and by the next Wednesday I had moved our decoration boxes out of the hall closet and into the living room. On Thursday I put the tree up myself but that effort (because it is, after all, a whole three feet tall) was enough for one night. After realizing how ridiculous we looked with a bare tree–okay, it had three or four ornaments on it–when our good friend Monica came over to cook on Friday night, we girt our loins and decked out the rest of the tree on Saturday.

[Yearly Frost Christmas tree photo forthcoming.]

Other than that, life’s been good. Work is great. We’re happy and healthy. I haven’t taken many (any) pictures lately, but not for lack of fun-having.

We’re still tearing up the NYT cooking app and on Sunday we made this this stew. Highly recommend. We had chocolate chip cookies a couple times last week and I made our first pistachio cookies of the season. That recipe was reason enough to join the Frost family.

I was convinced yesterday was Thursday and thus assumed I’d missed my chance to pick up my books on hold at the library (which is only open late on Tuesdays and Thursdays and who really can get there by five p.m. anyway?). Then I realized this morning that today is Thursday. This is what happens when Jason’s gone, even if for only 30 hours.

misadventures

- Last month’s book club book was New York Times bestseller I am Malala. I dutifully checked it out from the library and eagerly started reading it. In spite of my best efforts I just couldn’t get into it, so I put it down until two days before book club. I read all the way to work and all the way home and still found the tone a little off-putting and condescending (all the while in my mind thinking Really? What is wrong with you? Lots of other people–including the New York Times, which only occasionally leads you astray, like with their Christmas gift suggestions which is a conversation for another time–love this book! You can make it!). I got to work with only a few pages to go, so I logged into my Goodreads account to mark my progress. When searching for the book, I noticed that the collaborating author indicated was different than the one on my book…because I had inadvertently checked out the Young Readers edition. Yes, that may be why Malala’s story felt a little pedestrian; my copy was written for elementary school students. There wasn’t time to get the original version before book club, of course, so I didn’t say much at the discussion.

- I tried to check out Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince because I can’t remember if I had read it or not. When I got to my car with my library haul, I discovered the copy I’d requested was not The Little Prince, but a cartoon version for, once again, young readers. I returned it the next week, unread.

- For the first time in my 3.5 total years of D.C. commuting experience, I encountered a metro first. At my work stop, the people getting off in front of me were so very slow that the doors closed right before I could get out. I was mostly surprised, but also slightly irritated to have to travel one extra stop and slightly happy to have a few more minutes with my book (Rick Bragg’s All Over But the Shoutin’, not a book for young readers).

- In non-misadventure news, I just got promoted at work! I’m pretty excited about it.

giving thanks

This was a pretty great Thanksgiving.

Jason and I woke up early and ran over to the ward turkey bowl. He played on the icy/snowy field while I ran around the track for a while. I watched the last hour or so (yes, this was a long turkey bowl) until everyone was too cold and tired to play anymore.
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Then we ran home, turned on the parade and ate some breakfast.

We spent the rest of the day alternately preparing food, watching the dog show and/or football, napping and reading, finally sitting down to our two-man feast around 4:30 p.m.

Frost Thanksgiving Menu:
Simple roast turkey
Mashed potatoes, recipe via Jason
Roasted garlic chipotle sweet potatoes
Lion House rolls
Roasted butternut squash, because Jason is a true New Englander.
Green beans
Gravy from a box
Stuffing from a box
Cranberries
Grandma Henderson’s pie crust + Mom’s apple pie filling
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This was the first time we’ve ever cooked a full turkey before (which is how we ended up with six pounds of meat per person) and it was so good. Also, yes, the gravy is in a Pyrex measuring cup. Who needs a drippy ladle when you have a spout?
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After dinner we video chatted with our families before caving to turkey-induced sleepiness.

The food highlight of our weekend (besides pie. Mmmm. Pie.) was probably this turkey leftover sandwich from Southern Living. The cranberry salsa alone justifies the inclusion of cranberries at Thanksgiving.

the frosts cook (more)

We’re still on a roll with our NYT recipes. Last Sunday we made the best chilaquiles this side of the Rio Grande.
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We decided to do our own Thanksgiving this year. Our parents are awesome and don’t require any sort of alternating holidays ridiculousness. We have done two Thanksgivings with the Pullans, one with the Frosts, one with the Holbeins, and three alone. (Technically we also did one with the Pullans and one with the Frosts when we were dating as well. So many Thanksgivings.) Jason had to work on Friday anyway and Thanksgivings at home are so relaxing.

We didn’t completely eschew family, though. On Wednesday night we drove out to Sara’s for dinner and so Jason could meet my cousin Eddie and his family (plus I had never seen their new baby). We had a great time!

I spent Wednesday boot shopping with my friend Lara, as my brown boot sole is completely gone. Unfortunately it is very difficult to find boots that are small enough for my very average size calves. I think this is one of those cases where my platonic ideal of a boot doesn’t really exist and I am going to have to settle.

The rest of Wednesday was devoted to food prep. I made our rolls, sweet potatoes, a salad to take to Sara’s, and flipped the turkey a couple times (more on that recipe later).

When we decided to do a full turkey, Jason said I could/should get a roasting pan. I love it already.
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There was also a lovely little snowstorm, the first of the season.
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Oh, and I made a pie.
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