I refer to the time between the end of November and Christmas as “Baking Season.”
It starts with my husband’s six-hour birthday cake (although sometimes he asks for a giant éclair or a chocolate pie), then segues into Thanksgiving desserts (pumpkin cheesecake and maple pie). After that, I make literally hundreds of cookies for Christmas. There are tins for teachers and heaping piles for my familial horde when we travel.
I also bring cookies to parties, carefully arranged on holiday themed platters. This is actually my favorite part—making my project pretty. I’m the same way about preparing my house for a party or dinner. Vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms are a miserable chore. Putting out the gorgeous old tablecloths and fine china? So fun.
My fun became more of a chore once Boss Cat, feline marauder extraordinaire, joined our household. The rescue group made us promise to put the obese Boss Cat on a diet.
Boss Cat thought diets were bullshit. Once she lost enough weight to be able to jump onto the dining room table, she was relentless.
If you turned your back for two seconds, she’d snag a strip of bacon from your plate. Or a piece of chicken. Or even TOFU AND RICE.
After Boss Cat was svelte enough to achieve the kitchen counter?
She ran off with the egg yolks from mooncakes. She ate a hole in the middle of my cooling Thanksgiving pie. She pounced on my plate of Mexican wedding cakes for a local cooking contest.
We employed a squirt bottle. Boss was unfazed. She remained on the counter, glaring at me as water dripped down her face.
One had to physically remove her from the counter and either feed her or put her in a room and close the door (whereupon she would throw everything off the desk, dresser, or bedside table, but at least the food would be safe).
Now, mind you, we were not starving the cat. She was merely down to 13 pounds, with 6-8 small feedings daily. She still landed on the floor with a considerable thud.
Though she was damned stealthy when jumping up on counters and tables.
Which was why I arranged my platter of cookies for a Christmas party on the counter between the stove and refrigerator. Boss Cat was smart enough to be wary of a potentially hot stove on my right, while my left flank was protected by the bulk of the refrigerator.
I finished placing Christmas sugar cookies adorned with dark green frosting, adding just one last sprinkle of sugar crystals. That year I had gotten a Christmas shortbread mold and dipped those finished cookies in chocolate. They looked amazing, nestled among the trees. I stepped back to admire my handiwork.
Less than a second later, a flash of multicolored fur flew in front of my face, descending straight at the cookies.
Unbeknownst to me, Boss Cat had jumped up to the top of the refrigerator, which had open shelves. Who knows how long she lurked up there, unseen, waiting for the perfect time to pounce.
Sadly for Boss, the crystal serving platter was not a stable landing site.
The platter shot out from under the cat. She landed safely on her feet. The platter flipped, flinging cookies, chocolate, sprinkles, and frosting in every direction.
The platter broke. The cookies that weren’t in pieces were stuck, frosting and chocolate side down, on cabinets, the oven, and the floor.
I howled, “CAT!”
I yelled, “Yeah! You’d better run!”
And then I saw the dark green and chocolate paw prints she left behind as she fled the kitchen for rooms with cream carpets.
“No, kitty! Come back!” I pleaded. “Andy, catch her!”
Andy did not catch her. She ran over the office carpet, down the hall, and dove under our bed.
Andy and I surveyed the trail of chocolate and green Boss Cat had left behind.
In a voice of dread, Andy said, “We’re going to have to wash her, aren’t we.”
“We just need to get her paws.”
“We’ll still need Kevlar.”
The good thing about having a cat on a diet? It’s easy to lure them out from under the bed with chicken.
But no cat is easy to bathe. Despite gloves, multiple layers, and multiple towels, we were both bleeding by the time we got all four paws washed and dried. (No, we did not try and wash the rest of her. We are not FOOLS.)
It took ages to clean the kitchen. Some of the linoleum still had a green tinge when we ripped it out during a remodel years later.
And after that remodel?
The top of the refrigerator was covered by a cabinet that closed.