Adventures in the United States

Google is my shepherd; I shall not want.

It maketh me to sit down at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: it leadeth me to Caribou Coffee.

It restoreth my soul: it leadeth me in the paths of free wifi for its name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of “Where the fuck am I?” I will fear no evil: for Google art with me; its GPS and its transit schedules, they comfort me.

Google preparest a table before me in the presence of delayed rail services: it anointest my mouth with corndogs; my Vietnamese Cold Brew runneth over.

Surely bookstores and public bathrooms shall accompany me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the arms of Google forever


Cake! With Gillian St Kevern!

New Zealand welcomed awesome Kiwi author Gillian St Kevern back to our shores today with freezing wind and driving rain. Luckily that gave us a good excuse to go to decadent cake shop Little and Friday to make up for it. Spoiler: we would have gone anyway.


On the left is my amazing Peanut, Caramel and Chocolate Donut. In the centre is Gillian’s impressive Double Chocolate Lamington: chocolate sponge covered in chocolate and coconut  (traditional Lamingtons are just plain sponge). Gillian was so fun to talk to, plus she gave me a gift!  You can’t really tell but she is holding the table ‘number’ for our coffees – a plastic right whale (I always try to get a dinosaur).

Side note: did you know that some species of whale lice are sex-specific? Cyamus catodontis lives only on male sperm whales; Neocyamus physeteris lives only on females and calves. Have a pic of whale lice here and here and here, but approach with caution if you are uncomfortable with amphipods. Seriously, even I wouldn’t put those images on the same post with cake. Although I almost did. I also just realised that in The Dolphins of Pern it’s probably whale lice that the doll-fins want the humans to remove, seeing as how they live on all kinds of cetaceans, not just whales. In “skin lesions, genital folds, nostrils, and eyes,” according to Wikipedia.

But back to cake. You can make your own Lamingtons and frankly they are delicious. There’s a recipe for a gluten-free version here which I found especially for Chris from Stumbling Over Chaos.

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Or just come visit me down here and we can go get coffee at Little and Friday. The more excuses I have the better.


Mugged by kitties

My cat died in 2012. She wasn’t even my cat. She was a rescue who belonged to a neighbour. Three years after adopting her the neighbour got two new kittens, and the older cat found herself a new home. Mine.

I’d never liked cats before then, but I felt honored to have been chosen. She was perfect, and she accepted my worship as her due. She understood that I called her ‘Cat’ not from a lack of love, but from an acknowledgement that I was respecting her essence, which would only be diminished by a human name. We had a good life together, both knowing we were there for each other for the long haul. She got over her fear of thunderstorms and fireworks, as long she could sleep on top of my face, but she never got used to men.

We had twelve years together. I stroked her as she died. She was not in any pain. That’s all any of us can ask for, in the end.

I took her loss hard. It took months to stop calling out a greeting when I got in from work. I was so certain I’d never want another cat that when I found my dream condo in 2014 the fact it had a strict ‘no pets’ policy didn’t faze me. But now it’s 2016 and I desperately wish I could have a cat to lie on my keyboard and hijack my pillow.

So I went to a cat cafe.

This is Maze. Maze was chill. Nothing short of the apocalypse was going to stop Maze from getting his forty thousand winks. He is the softest thing I’ve ever touched.

I waited for years for one to open in my city, and now Auckland has two: Barista Cats in the CBD, and the place I went to, The Cat Lounge in Hillcrest. It was just as good as I hoped.

It’s set up like a spacious living room, with an attached fenced-in outside deck. There’s a big cat-only withdrawing room, for when the humans are all too much. In the centre of the room is a giant wooden climbing tree, and the walls are layered with walkways, hidey holes, and cat-sized Indiana-Jones bridges.



Before you’re allowed in with the cats they give you a laminated set of rules: Do not feed the cats human food; Do not vigorously rub the cats’ bellies; Do not pick up a cat who doesn’t want to be picked up.

Once inside the cat room it was clear they had neglected to give the cats their laminated rules: Do not demand belly rubs with swipes of your tiny adamantine claws; Do not attack the humans’ feet while they are walking; Do not mug the humans for their food.

This nice lady is being mugged. It was a kitty crime wave. She was mugged over and over again.
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“I can smell it. I know you had food. Where is my tribute?”
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“Confess! You are hiding the tribute!”


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This other nice lady is also being mugged. Where is Superman when you need him?
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Crime is exhausting.


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“You guys distract him and I’ll grab his wallet and the eats.”

I definitely recommend visiting The Cat Lounge if you’re in Auckland. They partner with The Lonely Miaow, a non-profit cat rescue and welfare organization. Also – bonus – the coffee wasn’t hideous.

I still yearn for a cat of my own, but at least now I’m a junkie on the equivalent of a methadone program. And they don’t adopt these cats out, so I can go visit Maze any time I want. And enjoy being mugged.