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I like to make things. And I like books. Last Summer, I combined these two interests and I started to make stuff out of books:

I made castles, and then they were put on display at our local library:

Now I’m on a Tree kick. . .

. . . so that’s why I chose to do this scene even though I am not, at all, a big fan of the book Where The Wild Things Are:

Here was a chance to do a little forest of trees, with branches intertwined, and with all different kinds of foliage. Cool!

As usual, I began by rolling a short length of plain white bond paper and gluing it to make something that resembles a big fat straw:

I thought it was a stroke of genius to use one of these large clips as a holder.

I wish I had good corrugated cardboard, but I only had crappy corrugated cardboard, so I had to glue several pieces together to make a nice fat branch. I then cut holes into the “straw” into which I inserted the “branches”:

I also cut the “straw” so I could make one end of it tapered — the “branches” are all firmly glued into place:

Then I wrap it all up:

I have a book that contains half the plays of Shakespeare. The pages are very thin, and the print is rather small, which makes it the ideal wrapping material.  I cut each page into strips, and then I wrap the strip around whatever “start” or “branch” I am working on. I load the strip up with glue, so it’s like hanging wallpaper: it’s really messy. The print will come off while you’re handling it, and the glue will leak, and your hands will get crusty and grimy. I have to rinse off my hands between every other strip that I wrap.

But in the end, with all that glue and those layers of text, your “tree” will be very, very sturdy.

Now, remember the image that I’m using from Where The Wild Things Are?

If you look closely at the top of the illustration, yo’ll see that the trees all have different leaves:

The tree at the end is a broad-leaf, so bread leaves is what I made:

The tree next to it has strange little curlicue leaves, so I rolled up some more “straws”, in two different sizes. . .

. . . which I then cut, in 1/4 – inch intervals, so that a I reduced the “straw” into a little pile of “rings”. I glued the little rings into groups like this:

The middle tree, the one on which the little kid is swinging, is a palm! Oh, those palm fronds were a lot of fun to make!

Unfortunately, I did to take any photos of making the palm fronds, but here are the three trees, plus the next-to-last one, with all their various leaves glued into place:

See those black and white photocopy of the characters from Where The Wild Things Are?  I only used them as a guide to how the trees would fit together, and how the characters would “land” on their branches. The illustration in the book is very large, too large for my purposes, so I made color copies of them at 50% their original size (I’m a miniaturist at heart).

If you remember the original illustration:

You can see that the characters are swinging from rather short trees, so now I know how much I have to cut off my paper trees. And, so, now I can make the thingy that will let the trees stand up on their own:

See those strips of text? That’s what I will use to wrap the foot of this tree.

DONE:

And yes, I did glue all the trees together (branches) and here they are, in place:

There were a few miscalculations about the heights of trees. I’m never doing this again but if I did, it would be more uniform. Although I do like the syncopation of the swingers from hi to lo, if you know what I mean.

In the original illustration, there is a lot of vegetation on the ground — vines and leaves and tall grass. That’s good for me, because I need to use ground vegetation to cover up the fact that my middle tree, the one siting across the inside spine of the open book, is not flush with the surface upon which the trees are standing.

I like to use pages from several different books when I do Book Art. Since there is no color to these things, I use the differences in the size and character of the fonts and typesets of the texts, and the differences in weight and tone of the paper, to give variety and interest.

For first two ground covers, I’m using some very cool pages from a book about music, for obvious reasons:

One tree had a small, bushy-type of thing growing around its base:

Another tree had more of a vine-type thing growing around its base:

Maybe the differences between the two is not terribly important to anyone but me, but yes, one of these is a bush, and one is a vine:

And for the other three trees, I made a different kind of bush, and some tall grass (as it is in the original illustration — you know that I’m a stickler for accuracy):

And here’s the whole shebang:

I have made this piece, let’s call it Wild Thing, as a companion to a previous piece I’ve showed you, let’s call it Dragon Cliff:

I still have a dragon or two that I want to include in this story (“story” is what I call the things I’m making; each book that I cut up or use as a platform for the forms I’m making tell a “story”). So there will be dragons playing miniature miniature golf with the wild wings in the background.

About the Dragon Cliff:

The fellow in the yellow cardigan is Arthur the Aardvark:

I was lucky to find him in a pose that is uncharacteristically wary. (Congratulations to Fresca and Steve for guessing it correctly!)

The kid with the taco, and his dog, are the kid and the dog from the book Dragons Love Tacos:

Getting that kid into shape so he could stand up on those incredibly spindly legs was murder, but I am a freaking genius at cutting and gluing hair-width pieces of paper together. (Kudos to Casey!)

The two girls peering over the edge of the end paper are from:

(Honorable Mention to Fresca and Casey!)

And the dragon is from the dust jacket of:

Cool dragon. I know the dragon has a name, but I haven’t so much as glanced into the book (third in a series of four, all about dragons) so I can’t tell you what her name is. (Steve stands alone on this one! )

And, lastly, the polar vortex slammed onto the north shore of Long Island yesterday and I’ve been pre-occupied with insulating my feral outdoor cat, Steve, against zero-degree weather . On Monday I went to the thrift store and found a nice warm puffy vest that I took home and washed, and then I wrapped it around Steve’s heating pad to give him an extra layer of coziness in his nest by the front stoop:

Steve seemed to like the new accoutrement very much, but the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your outdoor kitty is warm and safe only lasted two days. Then the snow squall came in — a furious blast of fine snow that only lasted half an hour, but did damage:

A little snow blew into Steve’s nest, and I was hoping that wouldn’t happen. Snow in there would melt because of the heating pad under the puffy vest, and it would soak the material of the vest, and be a cold, damp resting place, which would not be good for Steve. So I took the vest out and layered a nice big pile of  straw all around and on top of his heating pad; straw wicks moisture better than any other insulating material.

Steve nestled right down in the straw, and when I checked on him the morning after our dangerously cold night, he moseyed out and stretched as if it were any lazy Summer morn.

Today it is cold — 5 degrees this morning, to a high of 15 degrees — but sunny, and this is Steve on his stoop:

One more day of this bone-chilling weather and then it will warm up to the 40s and I can go back to my normal worrying about Steve’s comfort and happiness like I usually do.

And here’s Taffy, risking frostbite to do his thing in his favorite patch of dirt:

Have a great weekend, everyone. This Saturday is Groundhog Day, and Winter is calendrically half over!!

XXOO

 

 

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You all know Dennis, the cat from next door who, most mornings and afternoons, hunkers down in my house because he thinks that we are his Kitty Day Care providers?

This is Dennis in my dining room this past Tuesday morning:

Dennis is a cool cat, but he is not cool with me hovering near him with a camera. If I get too close, he skedaddles, makes himself scarce, vanishes like he’s from Cheshire. I was starting to think that getting the photo I want would be impossible because I have long been stalking him to get a good photo of him in lounging mode (above) but finally, this past Tuesday morning, I got what we lunatic cat stalkers call The Money Shot:

This (above) is Dennis’s back right foot, which I have long wanted to show you all because Dennis has the most adorable tootsies, as you can now see. Dennis’s toes make me happy.

This past Tuesday morning must have been my lucky day because I also got another photo that I thought would be impossible:

These are the Blue Jays who love the dry cat food that I put out on the den patio with the birdseed every morning. Blue Jays are bossy and brave in addition to being beautiful, but getting them to pose together is like herding cats because as soon as they can see me at the picture window in the den they tend to bugger off like they were Cardinals (Cardinals being the chickens of the song birds).  But last Tuesday morning I bagged 5 of them!

Blue Jays make me very happy. I must have Blue Jays in my life.

You might have heard that this past Tuesday morning it was bitter cold here on the north shore of Long Island. Temperatures were in the single digits and, with wind chill and all, conditions were arctic and the governor warned all New Yorkers to stay inside or else your eyeballs would freeze instantly it you ventured outside for a split second.

So this is Taffy, doing his thing in his favorite patch of dirt on the coldest day:

His eyeballs are just fine, thank you. And Thank You, Dear Readers and Commenters, for your concern over Taffy’s limp last week. The vet did not find any wound or any broken bones in his front leg, but she did feel some muscle damage which, taken into account with two small, healing head wounds, made her conclude that Our Boy had been in a battle and had over-extended himself. Did you know the a cat has 6 muscles in his foreleg? Taffy has blown out one, or all six, of them. They will heal, but in the meantime they are going to be tender and he should stay out of fights.

But the reason we all love Taffy so much is because he is so much more than a fighter. You all remember that last week his mama cat, Candy, came home from the vet, having been knocked out so the doctor could pull an in-grown claw from the pad of one of her front toes? It was the first time that I have ever handled her in the ten years we have known each other, the first time she’d been put in a carrier, the first time she’s seen a vet. It was a very stressful day for the poor kitty.

Well, as you can imagine, Candy was pretty wrung out and shaken from the experience, so she curled up on her bed in the living room to recuperate.

So this is what her dear boy did:

Taffy is impossibly sweet.

Last week I showed you the plan for my latest Book Art:

Illustration from Where The Wild Things Are, written and illustrated by Maurice Sendak, 1963.

I do not know how I failed to correctly assess the impossibility of doing this scene. You have to make five trees, each one with different leaves, with all those limbs, and all those limbs intertwining, with all those limbs coming out at the correct angles so you can hang the critters correctly.

Nope. I did not see any of that coming. No wonder it’s taken me almost two weeks and it’s still not done. But I’ll show you the Work-in-Progress:

And this is where I made fake arms so I could glue the paws of the critters onto the tree limbs:

And here are the different ways I made tree leaves:

The Palm Tree was, by far, the most fun tree to make.

Next week I will show you the finished forest, with all the ground vegetation that is shown (or hinted at) in the original illustration. Does anyone want to see a short step-by-step photo essay of The Making Of The Impossible Thing?

But wait, there’s more, because my life is just too exciting to stop here.

We got in a strange donation at the used book store that I co-manage, and this is just one of the strange books that was part of this strange donation:

Can you guess what this book is? No? Then let me show you:

Printed in 1932 by Simon and Schuster.

This book, much like Where The Wild Thigsxare, is also illustrated by the author.

But Mr. Van Loos is a strange guy:

I do not know why Mr. Van Loos needed to express the Ile de France (the part of France that contains Paris) in the form of saucers, but he did, and now you’ve seen it, too.

And then there’s this:

I don’t know how well this shows up if you are reading this blog on a phone, but this is a portrait of Ireland (?) and the text above it is a very patronizing take on the Irish people, and their love of fairies.

For a geographer, Mr. Van Loos was an extraordinarily lousy cartographer. Here’s his map of Europe:

And this, this (below), is just weird:

The North Pole. Of Asteroid B-612, that is.

Why would someone write such a book? Why would anyone publish such a book? And why on Earth would anyone buy such a book??

I don’t know if I love this book, or if it gives me the creeps.

I can’t think straight because this has been another exhausting week in America and I can’t tell if this is the beginning of the end for our union, or if it’s the end of the beginning of the end of our republic. There is no where to go from here but dissolution of the United States, so the Blue States can unify in liberal democracy and the Red States can unite in their racist, misogynist, and evangelical delusions.

I just hope that ,when the time comes, no shots will be fired.

But let’s not dwell on this unpleasantness.

Because no matter what goes on in Washington, no matter how many MAGA hats the jerk-face future Kavanaughs from Covington wear, no matter how long the government stays shut down, this is what I come home to:

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

 

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To become a Book Person, you need to like being around books.

It helps if you have read a book or two, so you know how they work (front to back, one page at a time).

A love for oriental carpets, a partiality for rainy days, and a high regard for a good cup of tea doesn’t hurt.

You have to know that there is no such thing as a non-fiction novel, no matter how many people come into the used book store and ask for such a thing.

Finally, a strong back is a must.

It seems as if there are a lot of people on the north shore of Long Island who made the same New Year’s Resolution to de-clutter their lives:

Last week, in one swell foop, I  got ten boxes of books dropped off at the used books store that I co-manage, to add to the overflow of donations that I already had. Worse than that, there was hardly anything worth keeping in the ten boxes, the donor being a person who bought a lot of paperback books in the 1960s and ’70s on the role of Islamic art and religion on the culture of medieval Europe. Who knew that there could be so many books on the the role of Islamic art and religion on the culture of medieval Europe??

There were also some very dated, but interesting (to me and, thus, to the store’s inventory) books about European travel — but I love reading guide books from the Olden Days. I love reading that a blow-out meal at the Ritz in  London in 1965 cost $9.00.

And then there’s this, my favorite book from the whole shebang:

Published in 1980, this book is dedicated:

To the many correspondents near and far — the ardently devoted squirrel people and the equally ardent anti-squirrel people — whose numerous and sometimes multiple communications, written and oral, made this volume possible.

One.  Who knew that there was such a thing as squirrel people?

Two.  Whose teeth marks are those on the corners?

Three. A book this quaint makes me feel that 1980 was a very, very, very long time ago. But wait. Wasn’t I 24 years old  just a minute or two ago?

Being a Book Person means that you never run out of things to think about.

And then, just this morning (Thursday, Jan. 17), I was back at the used book store and found this on the front porch of the historic Valentine House where you can find my used book store in the front parlor:

I had to lug it all indoors myself:

But I can’t really complain, since this is how we get inventory for the used book store, and these tomato boxes are fabulous!

I’m pretty sure these tomato boxes are vintage. So Cool.

After a couple of hours of sorting, I had this:

All the books that are in piles on the floor are keepers.

Now all I have to do is price them and shelve them in the bookcases that are already full.

So, in the next few days of this Book Person’s life, I will have to cull the bookshelves and discard the ones that have been there as long as I have been co-managing the store. That is, since last February. A Book Person must not be afraid of Letting Books Go.

In addition to doing the filthy work of hauling and sorting and stacking, I also went through all our hardback and paperback novels and sorted them into five categories:

Mysteries (Who Dunnits, Page Turners)

Historical Fiction

Classics

Guilty Pleasures (Daniel Steele, Nora Roberts, The Notebook)

Fiction (best sellers from the past 10 years)

Breaking up our fiction section, from being one big slew of 1,000 books, into more beguiling sections will make our inventory easier  and more fun to browse. I’m also raising our price from 50 cents to $1.00 per book. Because, you know, the collection is now curated.

So today, after three hours of carting all these books to and fro, I was very tired.

The store is closed this whole month so I can re-stock the inventory and make these changes but just as I was about to close up and go home, a couple of nice ladies from a neighboring town stopped by. They were at our library to hear a lecture about UFOs and wanted to check out the book store, which they had never seen before. So we chatted and I let them look through the children’ books and I made $2.00 for the Friends of Bryant Library.

Not that anybody’s going to give me a $100 gift certificate to Amazon, or anything, for all my troubles.

Thank you, all you Dear Readers, and especially all you Fabulous Commenters, for weighing-in on last week’s controversy. This little blog has the best comments I’ve ever read anywhere on the internets, and I am mightily thought-provoked by each of your messages.

And yes, it was my birthday this past Wednesday, January 16. and my own Top Cat knows exactly what to get me to make my B-day purrfect:
I would never buy a gallon of Elmer’s glue, but Top Cat was raised by rich parents and he knows how to splurge. He also knows that making Book Art (which is something that us Book People do) takes a lot of Elmer’s glue. I used almost an entire third of my small bottle of Elmer’s just making this last week:

The top photo is at eye level.

This one below is taken from 5 feet, six inches up:

I used three children’ books and one YA fantasy novel. Can you guess which ones?

I am wrist-deep in glue for my new Book art thing, which is a 3D Book Art re-interpretation of this scene:

I am using a crazy amount of glue and I hope it will be finished soon so I can show it to you all next Friday.

In the meantime, I must explain last week’s Taffy citing, where I showed you all this photo and called Taffy “kind of a jerk”:

That’s Taffy, on top, and that’s Dennis, on the bottom. See Taffy’s tail? He’s doing that thing that your little brother used to do, when you had to sit with him in the back seat of your parent’s car, and he’d sit too close to the diving line between your part of the back seat and his part of the back seat, plus he’d breathe on you, and repeat everything you said, and act all innocent when you lean over and threaten to punch his teeth out and shove them one by one up his nose if he didn’t cut it out right now.

This week, we noticed that Taffy has been limping. I’m sure it’s his front right paw that hurts, the one he holds up to take the weight of it when he sits in front of the refrigerator reminding you that this is where you keep the cream cheese and he’s a guy who loves cream cheese and now would be a good time to give cream cheese to a Taffy who loves cream cheese.

I’m publishing this on Thursday afternoon (4:30-ish) so I hope that the time lag isn’t too bad between now and when this post finally turns up in your browser (or whatever) so you’ll know that Taffy is going to see the vet on Friday at 2:00.

If all his paw needs is a little bit of Elmer’s glue, he’ll be fine.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

 

 

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Look at this poor pathetic lonesome kitty (Dennis, from next door) huddling in the hutch in the backyard in the pouring rain:

Have no fear, five minutes later he was hanging with his frenemy, Taffy:

If you can read Cat Body language, you’ll know that Taffy is kind of being a jerk.

I also have bird action going on in my backyard. Every morning before dawn (sun rise today was 7:19 AM) I fill the bird feeder that hangs at the picture window in our den. Then, because only tiny birds can perch on the bird feeder, I pour a pile of bird seed onto the small cafe table that is on our den patio for the bigger birds. I also pour some dry cat food out because the Blue Jays and the squirrels love it:

Shortly after I do my pour, here comes Taffy, kind of being a jerk again:

I couldn’t get a picture of the Cardinals and Blue Jays that swoop in for the buffet, but here’s the next shift of big birds, the doves:

By noon, this is what the table looks like:

Today I’m going to answer Dear Reader Casey’s request for close up info about the garden I made last week:

This is Farmer MacGregor’s garden, famous for being the garden that Peter Rabbit raided , when he was being naughty, in the Beatrix Potter classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

To make the particulars of this garden, I am cutting up another, lesser, children’ classic:

The used book store that I manage for charity had TWO copies of this book, a 50-page paperback picture book. One is in good condition and we priced it at $1.00; the other was a bit beat-up, so we priced it at 50 cents.

As a professional fake garden artist, I can tell you that this is the BEST BOOK EVER for making paper gardens. It has illustrations such as this:

Which, if you look carefully, you will see how I cut up the leaves to make the first two rows of cabbage for Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

See those next tow rows? I think of them as lettuces in the Romaine family, and I cut up an illustration of raging water to make them:

I am not tempted to read this book, so I’m guessing that it’s about little tiny people who live in trees, and then there’s raging water. I don’t know why. But there’s a lot of delightfully useful woodland illustrations, and I cut out a line of trees in the background of one illustration to make the hedge that surrounds Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

I used up both books to make this side of the hedge, so for the front of the hedge I had to cut up this illustration:

And that’s the part that borders Farmer MacGregor’s gate. . .

. . . the gate that Peter scurries under to give mean old Farmer MacGregor the slip:

And here’s Peter Rabbit and his cousin, Benjamin Bunny, playing miniature miniature golf:

I haven’t found the right size bead, yet, to make the ball but I had to show you these two golfing buddies as a work-in-progress because OH MY GOD are they not insanely cute????

But what, there’s more: I also went back to my original Pooh Bear tree and added some golfing details to my favorite bear, plus some other golfers that I think Pooh would like to tee off with:

If you can think of another bear from Storyland, I would love the make this a foursome.

So, when I’m not concocting golf clubs for classic characters in childrens’ literature I’m still pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, barging into offices, begging for money for our local library. I really hate it. It’s cold, I have to wear real clothes, and nobody is thrilled to see me.

Now, we have a nice list of wonderful sponsors so far — they are heroes and I love them. But still…I wish I was selling Girl Scout Cookies, not expensive miniature golf sponsorships. I’m also going through a slew of donations this month at the used book store that I co-manage for the benefit of the library is closed for re-stocking.

I am guessing that a lot of people make a New Year’s resolution to de-clutter and good for them. they are sticking to their guns and clearing out the bookshelves and we have been lucky to get a TON of nice books, plus the usual percentage of filthy crap stuff that I have to box up and have carted out to the landfill and get grubby over.

And I do all this for FREE.

So when I found out at the last board meeting of the Friends of the local library that the president of the Friends had OK’d rather large holiday  GIFTS to some of the library administrators, I hit the roof.

These administrators are getting paid thanks to local tax payers like me. They also get, thanks to the local tax payers, full pensions. They and all their dependents, thanks to local tax payers, get very nice medical and DENTAL benefits. And, honestly, being a librarian in a small village is one of the easiest damn jobs in the world. And yet, they get GIFTS to “thank them” for going “above and beyond” for the Friends??? As it was explained to me, this means that the staff spends a few hours a year making photo copies and filling in tax forms for the Freieds and lets us take a room in their annex to sell used books.

Right: For letting me work like a stevedore FOR FREE so I can turn over all the money I get from working at the used book store and begging for donations from the business community, I should be grateful for the minuscule amount of work the staff does during their working day??

I was shouting at the president that I’m sure that when someone gives a charitable donation to the Friends of the Library that they do not want that donation spent on Amazon gift Certificates for the damn library staff. In fact, the IRS doesn’t like that either and I was PISSED off enough to go read all about what a 501 (c) (3) can and cannot spend its tax-free charitable donation on and I’m ready to go to the mattresses for to make sure we do not spend any more damn money for damn GIFTs for the damn library staff.

So I ask you, Dear Readers, am I being righteous or am I just being kind of a jerk?

I wonder what our resident kind-of-a-jerk Taffy would do:

Well, that’s not helpful.

About der Drumpf’s argument for having the taxpayers pony up $5 billion for a southern wall, all I want is for the Democrats to roll the tape where the TrumpDumpster promises, over and over, that he’ll build a wall and Mexico will pay for it. And then, I want the Democrats to look into the camera and yell:

SHOW ME THE PESOS DONNY!

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.

 

XXOO

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Who does it better?

Dennis, the cat from next door:

Or my own Taffy?

In other cat news, Candy is feeling like her old self. Top Cat and I are convinced that she has forgiven us for hauling her to the vet, and is so happy that her paw doesn’t hurt anymore that she and she’s even being nice to us.

In Vivian news, I’m starting my third series heading up the writer’s workshops at the Willam Cullen Bryant Library next week, which is where the creme de la creme of the North Shore of Long Island hang out every other Thursday evening.  I have to tell you about a very surprising thing I learned from a tri-lingual workshop member, about my second book, Le Road Trip, originally published in English:

One of the workshop participants reads and speaks both Taiwan Chinese. . .

. . . and mainland Chinese. . .

. . .  this dear person was reading my book in all three versions, side by side, as a way to check her own mastery of the three languages. Turns out that she spotted a discrepancy between my original text and the mainland Chinese edition.

On the first page of Le Road Trip, my way of saying Hello to the reader and offering my bone fides as a tour guide through Paris and wine country in France for the next 200 pages, I wrote:

I wouldn’t call myself a travel expert, but that’s just me being modest. OF COURSE I’m a travel expert. I’ve been traveling for 30 years without ONCE going on a cruise. Yes, I’m bragging. I’ve stayed in over 50 youth hostels without ever getting thrown up on. I’ve eaten local delicacies, from brains to fried grasshoppers to goat (with my bare hands) to Amazonian BBQ (God knows what was on that grill. “Is that an ear?” I asked the cook. “Yeah, sure,” he said, so shiftily that I began to worry that ear could be a euphemism for something even more unthinkable. That’s when I learned that there can never be a good answer to the question, Is that an ear?). I’ve been bitten by malarial mosquitos, threatened by wild baboons, stalked by loose moose, and proposed to by a drunken African soldier who broke into my bedroom in the middle of the night. I’ve traipsed in elephant dung and human turds and squished myself in rattle-trap taxis-brousses with snotty babies and leprous beggars. I’ve dodged the leering bachelors of Rome, side-stepped camel spit in Ouagadougou, and stared down the judgmental gaze of Parisians. And through it all I’ve never been hospitalized, jailed, stranded, pierced, tattooed, or ransomed. That’s how good I am. 

Etc.

You know what they say about humor being very hard to translate?

By my count, my third “joke” was mis-interpreted.

Where I wrote I’ve stayed in over 50 youth hostels without ever getting thrown up on, the mainland Chinese translator put: I’ve been thrown out of over 50 youth hostels.

So there you go. My reputation as a hell-raiser is secure in Beijing.

I am typing this just hours after the 116th Congress was sworn in and I feel better already. Much, much, much better about life in this der Drumpf shit storm. Dear Readers, the outlook has just gotten a whole lot sweeter for freedom-loving Americans, like you and me, of above-average intelligence and good looks.

Yay.

Until the indictments start flying, let’s do some gardening!

My inspiration this week was Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

This, of course, is from Beatrix Potter’s wonderful tale about Peter Rabbit and his love of Farmer MacGregor’s lettuce:

Right. We need to make a vegetable garden with a gate, surrounded by a hedge, and we need to build it in this open book next to the Pooh Bear tree:

So I built a raised platform, as you can see, so that the rows of vegetables can be visible:

I re-inforced the raised platform with heavy stock paper, so I could cut small slits into it to insert little colored bits that represent cabbages and lettuces:

Like magic, the bits stand up by themselves, although I put a dollop of glue behind each bit to hold it in place forever:

And this is the complete garden:

If you remember your Beatrix Potter, Peter Rabbit loses his little blue jacket and his tiny little shoes in Farmer MacGregor’s vegetable garden and Farmer MacG, being a thrifty Scot, uses the jacket and shoes to make a positively frightful  scarecrow:

You bet that I made a little blue jacket and some tiny shoes!

So here you are at eye-level (below), and now an you see the benefit of having a raised platform for the vegetable garden?

We now turn our attention to The Wind in the Willows. Since 1962, when yours truly was but a snot-nosed second grader, I have owned a large format picture book that include the first chapter of the beloved children’s classic, which I have never read:

So I had a very good reference of the brilliant  E. Shepherd illustration for this beloved children’s classic:

I cut short lengths of heavy French embroidery floss, which I then coated with Elmer’s glue and touched to small leaves that I cut out of another book, not the beloved children’s classic because I DO NOT want to cut up  my 56-year old book, which was a Christmas present from my mother:

So I made a willow tree, and if I do say so myself, it’s not bad:

And then, for the first time in my life, I sat down ad read the first chapter of The Wind in the Willows. It’s called The River Bank. And I made a horrifying discovery:

I learned that, in the book, the wind does not waft through the branches of a riverside willow tree. Nope.

The wind rustles through the tall stands of riparian vegetation that grace the English countryside. That is, reeds. Mostly likely, the Norfolk reed.

And, is you re-examine the E. Shepherd illustration, the tree is not a willow. It’s some kind of pollarded shade tree. Most likely an oak, ash, or lime.

And, I hate to say, willow. I just found out that you can pollard a willow. Because I cut off the willow fronds and made it into an oak:

And I put in some Norfolk reeds, through which the wind can waft:

And this is where I am as of Thursday, Jan. 3. I have to source Peter Rabbit, his cousin Benjamin Bunny; and Ratty, Mole, Badger, and Toad. And they have to be in poses that are conducive to a 7-iron. And they have to be in books that I don’t mind cutting up. And they have to be in compatible band-width. [Size.]

As our favorite bear would say,

Have a great weekend, my Wonder Ones. We are living in Happy Times, in the shadow of the 116th Congress.

It’s about time.

XXOO

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First we were rained out, then we had too many parties to go to, and then it was one thing after another…it was Christmas Eve when we finally  packed up the champagne and the plastic beach glasses to go to our special spot on the north shore of Long Island, by the water’s edge of the Long Island Sound, to celebrate the Winter Solstice. It was cold and windy. We weren’t even sure there would be much of a sun set, it being so cloudy.

But we waited anyway. . .

. . . and at 4:33 PM the Earth and the Sun managed to put on a show of light that felt almost holy, and made us happy to be alive on this marvelous and mysterious planet. Isn’t that what every great sun set does? (That’s the skyline of Manhattan in the way back.)

And then the neighbor’s cat, Dennis, came through the hole in the fence and he didn’t see his shadow, so that means we have 12 more weeks of keeping Dennis warm when he does his mind-meld from the backyard to let us know that he wants to take a Winter’s nap in our house.

Remember back, on November 2, when we set the clocks back to Winter Time and I wrote a check list called Preparation and Dread: Winter is Coming?

Item 8:

Volunteer for a social project. This year, I am starting a new fund-raising event for the library and I hope to raise big bucks but first, I have to change the by-laws so we can have an open bar in the reference section (for just one night! Not for all time!). You can throw all the kids’ events you want, but it’s the grown-ups who have spending money and they won’t come to your dinky library gala if there is no booze.

I still haven’t been able to get the library to lighten up on its tea-total ways, but I have started work on my Winter Sanity Project.

I am organizing the fund raising for a miniature golfing event at our local library, the William Cullen Bryant Library in Roslyn, NY.

We will be setting up an 18-hole miniature golf course INSIDE the library, and bringing in kids and teenagers and adults to play while the library is open, on Saturday April 6, 9 AM – 5 PM.

We have a very generous Title Sponsor in Fidelity Investments — they came through for us like champs. Fidelity is the best. They have been awesome.

And now I am asking businesses in our community for money…you can imagine the endless fun that is. One by one, I am getting Hole Sponsors for the 18 holes but it’s not easy. I am beginning to wonder why the library has not made itself more beloved in the community, because I have seen this mini-golf thing go over huge in other similarly-size towns and in Roslyn it’s mano-a-mano. Without going into details (and I have a lot of details) for now, towns half our size put us to shame when it comes to fund raising for the library. This is a topic I will be happy to bitch about discuss at a later date, but let’s get to happier business for today.

For the month before our mini-golf event, that is, all of March 2019, I will be doing PR to get everyone all fired up to come and play at the Bryant Library. One thing I am doing is making more Book Art, because there’s got to be something in it for me since I don’t play golf and I don’t have kids.

I’m going to make a miniature Miniature Golf course, with our favorite childrens’ book characters as the golfers.

Naturally, I started with this guy:

I made his tree out of plain white bond paper, and then I covered it with strips of text from a paperback copy of  The House At Pooh Corner from 1928, by A. A. Milne with original illustrations by E. H. Shephard.

I used the Pooh Bear from Disney because he’s in color, but don’t fear; I also have Shephard’s wonderful original characters on site, too.

I also used this Disney illustration as a reference:

I really wanted to make one of these holes. I can’t think of what to call them — don’t they have a name?

Luckily, I had made my Pooh tree with different sized tubes of paper (which I rolled myself) so, as most of the tree is hollow, it was easy to stab a hole into the fat tree limb:

I used my trusty scalpel to dig out a nice-sized hole:

This is hard to photograph: I stuffed a cup-shaped disk of dark print into the hole. . .

. . . and then I flattened the edges of the disk around the hole. So, yes, there is actually an interior to this hole:

I glued graduated layers of text into several  O-rings and, while the whole thing was still damp with loads of Elmer’s glue, I shaped it to fit the limb, and set aside to dry:

It mounted onto the tree limb like it was custom-made, which of course it was.

You can see that I have put various characters from The House At Pooh Corner up into the tree — there’s Eeyore, Piglet, Christopher Robin, and Rabbit (above). I put the original Pooh in here on four or five leaves, in homage to the great E. H. Shephard drawings that we all love.

Tigger is on the tree limb on the right.

I will add a golf club to Pooh — I see him carrying it over his shoulder as he gets directions from Gopher to the first tee.

I found several books in the used book store that had green bindings, so I’m using them as “greens” for the miniature miniature golf game that will be played. I also found books that have green end papers:

I have the next “green” lined up. These end papers will give me a nice space to make Farmer MacGregor’s garden for Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, and maybe have room left over for some Wind in the Willows.

I’m also working on a castle with a dragon from a YA fantasy series, and a formal garden with topiary for the Cat in the Hat.

The miniature miniature golf corse will go on display on March 1, in the same case where the castles are (see: Dec. 7, Somebody in Leicestershire Likes Me).

People are going to be sick of seeing my book art.

One last panic note: My feral indoor cat, Candy, mama to Lickety and Taffy (this is Candy and Taffy, below):

. . . has been very quiet lately. She’s been sleeping a lot, and today she stopped coming ’round to the buffet for breakfast and lunch. So somehow, I got to get close to her to inspect the situation, and now I know why she’s feeling poorly and I am FREAKED OUT.

She has an in-grown claw that, as far as I can see, has curled around and is piercing her pad, and it is inflamed. I did that running around thing you do when you know your sweet kitty (who can’t stand me, BTW) is hurt, flapping my hands, my heart pounding, trying not to faint, trying to remember the phone number to the vet, then resorting to looking it up in my phone book with shaking hands…

In the 11 years that we have known each other, Candy has never let me touch her. But she’s feeling so bad today that I know I can grab her and stuff her into a carrier, my one and only chance to get her to the vet. She has an appointment for 9 AM tomorrow morning (Friday) and I’m sure she will have to be sedated to get her to submit for a nail clipping so I can’t feed her after 8 PM tonight, no problem since she has stopped eating.

I am feeling terrible. And scared. I will have ONE SHOT at getting this cat in a career and THAT’s IT for the rest of my life.

Fuck it. I’m going to make myself a V&T to calm down***, and I’m publishing this on Thursday afternoon, at 2:40 PM, so I hope you Dear Readers who report a ten hour time lag will get this to pop up on your screen in time for me to let you all know how our Friday morning at the vet went.

Dear Readers, please send Candy some vibes to make her relax and accept help from me.

I will post a follow up tomorrow.

See you here in about 20 hours from now.

 

*** I didn’t have that V&T. I took a few drops of CBD oil, and it worked a charm.  Later that night, I had a few too many V&Ts, but only after 5 o’clock, and then I fell asleep on the couch in the den during the last minutes of Jeopardy!, like civilized people do.

UPDATE:  It’s 1:08 PM Friday afternoon and Candy is home from the vet’s. She was sedated so the vet could pull out a very in-grown claw — it was the worst that the vat had ever seen. She saved the claw for me, but I don’t want to showy because I don’t want you all to think I’m a bad kitty mom. Candy also had an ear infection, and she got a huge dose on antibiotics for that.

I was terrified absit handling Candy this morning. I looked up videos on YouTube about handling a wild cat and I got excellent its, which I used to great effect. I got Candy in the carrier with only one stab wound from her, but I have to tell you that my hands were shaking for half an hour afterwards. I knew that if I didn’t get her in the career this morning that she would NEVER let me near her for a second try.

But all’s well. I had a second cup of tea to calm down, and now Candy is  home and sleeping off the last of the Happy Gas.

Thank you for your good vibes for our girl.

Have a splendid New Year, Dear Ones.

 

 

 

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To One and All,

Happy ChrisHanuKwanSolstice 2018!

In a few  hours from now Top Cat and I will be guzzling champagne in our special Solstice spot on the shore of Long Island Sound as we toast the Return of the Light in a 60-degree wind and rainstorm. It’ll be just like every cliche in a romantic comedy, us getting soaked while making some grand gesture to the universe.

A few days ago I heard some caterwauling coming from the front stoop. It was Steve, defending his Stevedom from an intruder:

I’ve never seen this tabby before.

So, yes, there’s a new guy on the block.

He’s very handsome, and both sleek and a bit tubby so I know he has a regular dinner bowl set out for him somewhere, and his ear is clipped so, whew, he’s already been TNR’d, and he’s tame enough that he let me sit on the front step with him and explain that this is Steve’s turf and we don’t really need another cat, and I eventually persuaded him to go look for some excitement elsewhere.

He came back the next day,around late-lunch time, to inspect Steve’s buffet again, and again I had to mildly shoo him away and he, again, took his time deciding that OK, maybe he actually did have better things to do than irritate Steve.

And then the weather system that spawned tornados in Washington state hooked up with a massive storm from Florida and it’s been raining heavily here on the north shore of Long Island, so I haven’t seen Freddie for two days.

Right. I had to name the new guy Freddie because I am still getting my Queen freak on. And as if I could not crush on Freddie Mercury, Queen’s inimitable front man, any more than I already do, I recently learned how much he loved cats. At one time, he had ten of them. You can google all kinds of stories about Freddie and his cats, and while they all agree that Delilah was his favorite (he even wrote a song about her), the consensus was that Delilah was either a tabby or a tortoiseshell.

This is a photo of Goliath, Freddie Mercury’s black cat, and Delilah:

You would think, at any kind of newspaper or magazine or website, that there would be at least ONE proofreader or fact-checker who would know the difference between a tabby, a tortoiseshell, and a freaking calico cat.

But we all have shocking gaps in our knowledge of the world, right? This week, for example, it was revealed to me that Mars, the planet that humanity will have to colonize when we are finished trashing our own dear Earth, is behind us. That is, it is further away from the sun — 141.6 million miles (on a good day) compared to our 92.96 million miles.

Since approx. 1962, I have pictured Mars as being in front of us on all those scale models of the solar system that I have glanced at since second grade. For some reason, learning that Mars is behind us has upset my whole conception of interplanetary travel. We’re going to shoot people further out and away from the only life-giving star that we can count on in the entire universe??

It bothers me.

But then I go watch Queen’s set at Live Aid in London on July 13, 1985 and I don’t care any more that humankind wants to go ruin another perfectly fine planet, especially at the 7:39 mark when Freddie lunges into Hammer To Fall. I watch that video and I wonder, at myself in 1985, How did I not know he was gay?

We all have shocking gaps in our knowledge of the world, right?

But let’s not dwell on our stupidity. Let’s celebrate our abundant opportunities for enlightenment, in big and little ways, that life on this precious planet gives us every day.

That’s the spirit of all my ChrisHanuKwanSolstice wishes, Past and Present.

To all you Wonder Ones, my beloved Dear Readers, and all your favorite people and critters (even those taking their  sled rides in Heaven) —

A most enlightening and very Happy New Year.

 

 

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So I was, like, all “WTF?? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!” last week when I discovered that WordPress changed itself into a new platform that I could not figure out for the life of me, but then today I found out that I could re-install the old circuits and pretend that the future had not already happened, just like I was a Republican or something, and now I’m all like OMG What a relief! I don’t have to learn anything new after all!!

This old format that I am still using will be good until 2021, at which time I will have to learn the new platform but a lot can happen between now and 2021, which looks devastating for the Earth in general but awesome for those of us who want to see Trump behind bars, In jail, Convicted, Disgraced. And take Donny Jr. with him. And Melanoma. And Stinkvanka. All of ’em. But not Eric. Being Eric is punishment enough.

Top Cat and I went to see the Queen biopic last weekend. I’ve been a bit obsessed with it ever since.

Note to Megan McCain, who interviewed the cast on The View and kept calling the film  a “bi-op-ic”, as if the first two syllables were borrowed from “biopsy”. It’s a bio-pic, a portmanteau of the words “biography” and “moving picture”. How can she be 34 and on TV and not know that??

Anyhoo, back to Bohemian Rhapsody, I get why the film got a lot of criticism for it’s shallow handling of Freedie Mercury’s interesting private life. The life-long bond that he shared with the love of his life, Mary Austin, in spite of his rather robust homosexuality was handled with Made-For-TV-quality cliches, but then, that got the film a PG13 rating which allowed my friend’s 14-year-old grandson into the theater and he loved it. Yay. Rock and roll in not dead yet if 14-year-olds can still be persuaded to listen to it!

I liked seeing the ’70s again. My eyes have been missing the world of my youth. I miss when people used to dress to thrill by wrapping themselves up in yards and yards of lace and velvet and creative and colorful cross-dressing, and not by just letting their bazingas hang out.

Then:

Freddie Mercury, 1974

Now:

Rapper Nicki Minaj attends the Haider Ackermann show as part of the Paris Fashion Week on March 4, 2017 in Paris, France. (Photo by Peter White/Getty Images)

Jesus. Her mother must be so proud. (After all, in addition to her daughter going around Paris with her bazingas hanging out, her son was recently convicted of child molestation.)

I also liked watching the group, Queen, and Freddie in particular, work themselves into being QUEEN. How an artist finds his or her way in the world is always fascinating and, yeah, it’s not like this biopic is an exhaustive study on the emergence of genius, but it still shows enough of the process to hold my interest.

The actors did not sing in the movie. They lip-synched to the original Queen material, and it’s fantastic. They even re-created, step by step, Queen’s 20-minute set on July 13, 1985 in Wembley Stadium, for Live Aid.

Oh, man. I miss the ’80s.

All in all, it’s a very entertaining movie that covers most of the band’s history up until six years before Freddie Mercury’s death, in 1991, from AIDS. Making those years, 1970 – 1985,  the timeline of the movie, and not going into the final years of Freddie’s life, is something else that critics don’t like about the film. But, to quote The Independent newspaper from Oct. 24 this year:

On the film’s approach to Mercury himself, [Rami] Malek reflected: “I think if you don’t celebrate his life, and his struggles, and how complicated he was, and how transformative he was – and wallow instead in the sadness of what he endured and his ultimate death – then that could be a disservice to the profound, vibrant, radiant nature of such an indelible human being.”

Freddie Mercury. We will never see the likes of him again.

The truly amazing thing is how the producers found actors who are dead ringers for the members of the band.

Actor Rami Malek:

Freddie Mercury of Queen, back in the day:

Actor Ben Hardy:

Drummer Roger Taylor, of Queen, back in the day:

Actor Joseph Mazzello:

Bassist John Deacon, of Queen, back in the day:

Actor Gwilym Lee:

Guitarist Brian May, of Queen, back in the day:

And here’s Brian May this year:

It’s sobering to see a rock star at age 71.

Brian May is actually, for real, a Ph.D. in astrophysics, so in this one instance I will not begrudge him his 1970s hair. It suits him. I think it makes May look a lot like Isaac Newton:

I also like Brian May, aging rock star, because he chose an age-appropriate second wife, the actress Anita Dobson, who is only three years younger than he.

I read in the Daily Mail that Mick Jagger’s latest girl friend, and inevitably his next baby mama (he has EIGHT kids with five women…Ew) , is 53 years younger than he. Jagger is 76. So, yep, that makes her 22. Ew. Ew. Ewwwwwwwwwww.

Well, that took a weird turn, so let’s banish those hideous mental images of the Living Cadaver Jagger with some kitty news!

I was sitting in the den one night last week reading a great book — Orange is the New Black — that I got at the used book store that I co-manage for the benefit of our local library, and I was feeling crowded into one little corner of the couch, so I got up and took this picture:

And for all of Taffy’s fans, here’s his latest roll in his favorite dirt patch on a frigid December day:

And then, now that he’s covered in a fine dusting of Long Island’s best filth, Taffy saunters into the house and warms up:

Here are all the other cats in a feature that I call Competitive Napping.

Bibs:

Candy:

Cindy:

Lickety, as usual, doesn’t quite understand the gist of things:

And lastly, there’s Dennis, from next door:

I know you need to see our feral cat, Steve, so here’s a recent photo of him in his heated acrylic cabin under the shrub by the front stoop:

So all is well in our little Catdom.

Except that I can’t stop humming Somebody to Love.

I can’t get Freddie Mercury’s voice out of my head, and if you click onto this video, you won’t either.

Next Friday, our favorite holiday happens so you know what that means. We break out the annual ChrisHanuKwanSolstice festival!

Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay the Queens you are.

XXOO

P.S. I am publishing this at 9:00am Friday Dec. 14. Let me know how long it takes for this to actually show up on your reading device…lately there has been a horrendous lag of nine hours between the time I hit the Publish button and the time you can read it. Must be the Grinch.

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It’s weird to see my castles out in public:

They’ve been my personal property for months, and now they are hanging out at the Bryant Library on the north shore of Long Island for all the world (or the tens of library patrons) to see:

People who know where to find me (hint: in the used book store on Fridays from noon – 3pm, and on Saturdays from 1 – 4pm) have asked me about certain aspects of their construction and I honestly can’t remember a lot of the details of making these things.

I also have to think hard to remember the order in which I made them. That’s my first castle on the left, and my second castle on the right:

There was a time when I wanted to give each castle a name and a back-story, but I like this austere display better. This floor-to-ceiling case is very modern and uncluttered, and it leaves each viewer free to make their own interpretations.

Speaking of interpretations, when I was in Las Vegas in October, I crossed paths with an interesting cake display in the pastry shop at the Aria casino:

Now I know the size and shape of my next castles.

Five feet tall, with tiers.

And I have to make two, of course. One with colors, and one in monochrome (because I can’t decide which I like better).

What is up with all the hoopla about Bush 41? I do not remember him being such a beloved figure during his presidency, which gave us the first bullshit Gulf War and then he left Saddam Hussein in power so he could kill a million Iraqi and Kurdish civilians, and he continued Ronnie Reagan’s apathy towards the AIDS epidemic, and then he gave us Bush 43 and don’t get me started on that.

Let’s remember that Bush 41 was a mean, lying, race-baiting (Willie Horton) Republican who puked into the lap of the Japanese Prime minister at a state dinner (January 8, 1992).  I don’t care that when he became decrepit he was a nice old fart who wore zippy socks. He’s still a creep in my book.

This just in: LinkedIn, the website where everybody is a CEO of something, and they brag their “dynamic” leadership and how they went to Harvard because they took a three-hour seminar at the Kennedy School; yeah, that LinkedIn…anyway, I got an email from LikedIn this morning telling me that my resume/profile was searched three times yesterday.

Naturally, I had to click. Were the people at the MacArthur Fellowship looking for me so they could finally give me my big fat Genius Award?? I mean, have you SEEN my castles???

Well, no, it wasn’t a $625,000 payday for me.

It was the Leicestershire (England) Police. They searched my LinkedIn profile three times yesterday.

So I googled Leicestershire News and did not find out that there has been a multitude of unsolved outbreaks of genius in the East Midlands and the authorities are looking for a really hot 62-year-old American with a knack for making paper castles.

I found this.

If this isn’t proof that mirrors don’t work in the UK or else that lady would never go out in public with hair like that, then, maybe she’s a vampire.

I’m sorry that today’s post lacks the usual amount of cute kitty porn  photos of my cats  being hilarious  napping. It’s a good thing that I had pre-loaded photos of my castles a few days ago because Lo, when I sat down to type today I discovered that the WordPress elves have fucked with the editing interface and all the pedals and levers and cog wheels that I use behind the scenes to bring you this MacArthur Genius-quality  blog have disappeared, and in their place there is a baffling new array of counter-intuitive buttons that I have no idea how to work.

You know how our favorite thing in the world is to learn new technology, especially when it means that we have to first un-learn the old new technology that we learned, like, last week?

Yeah. That’s where I am today. I’m so fed up with this pace of learning and un-learning that I could puke in a Japanese Prime Minister’s lap.

Have a great weekend, everyone. I will figure this shit out and see you back here next Friday with  cute kitty porn  cat pix and uplifting tales from my molehill life.

XXOO

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You know how it is. You are taking your usual 14-hour nap on your favorite kitty blanket and Taffy decided that he wants to cozy up to you:

And an hour later he’s trying to hog the whole kitty blanket for himself:

You know how there are people in the world, famous people, who you don’t know in real life, but you feel like you know them, because without doing it on purpose, you have incorporated something about their work and selves into your life?

I was very sad to learn that Ntozake Shange died on Oct. 27, age 70. I admired Ms. Shange very much in spite of her work, which  combines the two things that I most detest when it comes to high culture: poetry and theater.

When Ms. Shange’s 1975 play, for colored girls who ave considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf, closed on Broadway and began its road tour, Philadelphia was where it landed  in the Winter of 1977 (according to my memory). I was living in the suburbs of Philadelphia and I heard a radio advertisement for the play, wherein an actress recited :

Without any assistance or guidance from you,
I have loved you assiduously for 8 months, 2 weeks, and a day.

I was 21 years old and I knew absolutely nothing, NOTHING bout Black Feminism, choreopoetry, or the Nuyorican art movement. But I loved the sound of this. So I bought a ticket to see this play, had a thoroughly wonderful time, and then I went to B. Dalton’s and bought the hard back book of the play. Me. I went to a play. And then I bought a book of poetry. I mention this because I was working in a factory in 1977 and I never had extra money for theater and books back in those days. But I spent money for for colored girls.

Reading Ms. Shange’s obituaries reminded me of the fervor I had for this play, back when I was too naive to know that this play was not written for me. The fact that Ms. Shange was African-American and writing about her very particular experience as a woman of color did not creep into my thoughts at all. At all. . . even thought it has the words for colored girls in the title. Nope. Not me. No clue. I was too dim to feel the specificity of her work — I  just loved the language and the emotions and the humor and I appropriated it for myself. I don’t think I could do that these days. Because isn’t this what White Privilege looks like?

I bought the book for colored girls who have considered suicide etc. so I could memorize the whole poem:

Without any assistance or guidance from you,
I have loved you assiduously for 8 months, 2 weeks, and a day. I been stood up 4 times, left 7 packages on your doorstep, 40 poems, 2 plants, 3 handmade notecards,
and I had to leave town to send them.
You call at 3 am in the morning on weekdays… charming, charming!
But you have been of NO assistance! I want you to know that this has been an experiment…
to see how selfish I could be.
To see if I could really carry on to snare a possible lover.
To see if I was capable of debasing myself for the love of another.
To see if I could stand not being wanted when I want to be wanted and I can not,
so without any further guidance or assistance from you,
I am ending this affair!
this note is attached to a plant i’ve been waterin since the day i met you
you may water it yr damn self

I kept that book and those words in my head all through my various wanderings of my 20s and 30 through Europe and Africa. I don’t have the book any more. I suspect it was given away in the Great Post-Engagement Breakup Clear-Out of 1994.  Ntozake Shange:  she watched the world with glittering eyes.

Ricky Jay by Avedon, March 1993. Classic stink eye.

The magician Ricky Jay died on November 24. He was 72. He was well known for being the most brilliant slight-of-hand artist of his time. He was also a deep historian of magic and confidence men, and an extremely intelligent practitioner of close magic. His best friend was the playwright David Mamet.

I know of Ricky Jay, firstly, from a lengthy New Yorker article about him from April 5, 1993. It’s a really good article. It’s on the inter webs.

Secondly, I know of Ricky Jay from the early 2000s when I was interviewing one of my favorite writers, Lawrence Weschler. Mr. Weschler’s book, Seeing is Forgetting The Name of The Thing One Sees, is an elegant analysis of an art form I loathe with an intensity that I usually reserve for poetry and theater: performance/installation art. And I love it. It made me read all of Mr. Weschler’s other books and then, because we both lived in the same little village on the north shore of the Long Island Sound and I was a free lance magazine writer, I sold an editor on a story about the illustrious Lawrence Weschler. Yay. I got to meet my idol.

Lawrence Weschler used to be a staff writer of The New Yorker and then he was the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities and he teaches at elite colleges. He is also pals with the crew at McSweeny’s. Mr. Weschler gets around. He knows everybody.

So I get to go to Mr. Weschler’s house and we’re talking. He is a wonderful talker.

Lawrence Weschler is telling me that he knows Ricky Jay. He also knows the painter David Hockney. David Hockney wanted to meet Ricky Jay, so Lawrence Weschler introduced them to each other. And then Lawrence Weschler tells me something that could have changed my life if only I had heard it when I was in my 20s (instead of my 40s, when I heard it).

Lawrence Weschler told me that Ricky Jay was happy to meet David Hockney, and he said to Lawrence Weschler:

“This is the best thing about being really good at something.[Ricky Jay was really, really good at card tricks.] You get to meet other people who are really good at something.” [David Hockney is really, really good at painting.]

David Hockney Painting Sells for $90 Million, Smashing Record for Living Artist

This (above) happened at Christie’s in New York on November 15, 2018.

This (below) happened at my house this morning:

And this is especially for Dear Readers Marilyn and Marg-o, who were concerned about Coco’s strange sleeping habits:

Coco is letting improve the quality of her life just a little by letting me make her litter box bed a teeny bit more comfy and cozy.

Today (Friday, Nov. 30) I am installing all my castles into the display vitrine at the library, and I’ll have photos to show you next week.

In book store news, I got us some PR in the local media:

 

So on Saturday morning I will be setting up a special sale of author-autographed books and first editions. Sometimes, one book is both an author-autographed book AND a first edition. This is one such book:

This book is by an artist, Chaim Gross, who was very popular in the 1950s – 1970s, and he signed it:

I hope to get $125 for this — all money earned goes right back to the library (and it’s tax deductible!).

I’m going to bring in my CD player and I’ll play all my Christmas songs, and I’ll light up my book tree. . .

. . . and I wish you all could be there because we have a nifty tea-making mini-kitchen down the hall and tasty Pepperidge Farm cookies and I’m also going to bring a thermos of my favorite vodka tonic, and I will bust out either beverage depending on how the day goes.

It’s going to be rainy tomorrow here on the north shore of Long Island but we will be cozy and useful at the Bryant Library used book store. Cozy and useful: my two favorite things to be.

Have a great weekend, everyone. See you next Friday.

 

XXOO

 

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