A superb evening, and it needed to be, as work recommences on All That Is Bitter and Sweet, and on a very tight first pass deadline. It began with a seated meal for 14. Thanks to eBay, I have more than enough of the vintage buttercup sterling I collect to make each place setting pretty. The evening really began to shine, however, when an epic 5 round match of running charades began. It was, as always, a wicked blast. It’s hard to describe how much fun it is, it is an experience one simply must have! The laughter boomed off the walls of our old house, and the pets knew were to position themselves to be both out of the way of running feet, but in view for affectionate caresses during necessary rests to catch our breath. I rang in the midnight hour with Wiley, a feral cat whose trust I have been cultivating for a year. Called “Wiley” because he is, Dario was first to suggest we put out a bowl for him, which we did, way up a hillside. We could see him tentatively approach it, and eat. We began to move the bowl closer to the house. The process took months. Wiley always spoke to me, for example sitting on the front walk and meowing back when I chatted to him, and he always hung around, but he was clearly wild. We trapped him once, for shots, neutering, and tagging his ear, and the vet said “his stool was nothing but fur and bones. He is the consummate feline survivor.” Eventually, Wiley allowed me stand at the door while he ate. Then I could stand outside. Then I could stand close to the bowl. You get the idea. I did this every single night I was home for a year. One night, in November, I was out there with him at 3 am, so tired I simply forgot myself and I reached out and touched him. It surprised us both! But I realized I had broken the seal, so I began to put food in my hand, leaving the bowl empty, placing my hand in it. He ate (I was ably assisted by 10 degree weather and snow on the ground). Soon, I could wiggle a finger while he ate without him fleeing. Then, the wiggling finger could touch his chin patch. By New Year’s Eve, I was petting my boy, giving him full body massages, digging under his cheeks, putting my hand on his throat to feel the thrill of his purr. Now call him, he languorously emerges from “Wiley’s Corner,” sensuously stretching out on front paw then another, and he head butts me with truly admirable force. He is a hoss, and my new baby. I am completely crazy about him and ringing in 2011 under a starry dome was fine, indeed.