You all know my motto: Have a Fine Sauvignon Blanc, Will Travel.
Guess where Top Cat took me last week.
I will tell all next Friday.
You all know my motto: Have a Fine Sauvignon Blanc, Will Travel.
Guess where Top Cat took me last week.
I will tell all next Friday.
Last week I was too lazy to finish the Candy Nap story, so let me make amends this week. If you remember, it started like this:
This was Candy on Monday:
This was Candy on Tuesday:
This was Candy on Wednesday:
And now you get to see how it all ends!
This was was Candy on Thursday:
And finally, we can finish this up with Candy, on Friday:
So now it’s a new week and Candy has not gone near her little nap patch. This week she has decided that there is a new perfect nap spot. It’s the coffee table in the living room, and she sleeps half underneath it and half (her butt half) sticking out from under it. So this between-the-flower-pots thing was a one-week wonder, and nothing more.
I used to have boyfriends like that.
This week, I wish I could join Candy under the coffee table. I’ve been trying to get my head into a Trump-free zone but lordy, it is not easy. There’s just so much to hate about him, his progeny, his enablers, and his wife, who we have now scovered is every bit as delusional as her husband and they both have the I.Q. of mold.
Being distracted by an ever-present sense of doom and despair is the only way I can explain how I managed to think, long and carefully, about the form for my Winter Scene Castle from the Kate Spade blank book that we got in at the used book store a few weeks ago:
Yep, you see it, what I should have seen long before I got to this stage. I forgot to draw the back wall of this form. I connected the floor to the gable, which is an impossibility:
So I just cut off the offending gable. . .
. . . and rescued the form by inserting a new wall, and then I added the roof:
If you remember, I had alreadymade a “sketch” of a castle that I thought I’d use for this blank book:
But I wasn’t excited about making this little homey castle, so I looked around the inter webs some more and I came up with the famous pink castle in Aberdeenshire, called Craigievar:
I love the height, and the proportions. I riffed on it and came up with this:
I’ve put three trees in the front bit, but they are really hard to see in photographs:
I have glued the verso pages in place so they make a hill, because i was dying to make a half-moon bridge for this castle. BTW,if you ever build a castle, don’t do this. It was murder to get the bridge to fit the angle of the “hill”, if you know what I mean. I had to make three bridges before I got it right:
The next time you see this scene, the whole thing will be covered in trees. I think. That’s the plan, for now.
My advise is, Never make an all-white castle. You have to constantly wash your hands to make sure the surface stays clean, and your hands will feel raw by the end of the day. Also, every tiny flaw seems to light up from within when there is no surface decoration (like, text, or color, or images) to distract the eye. In an all-white construction, there is no forgiveness.
When I’m finished, and this will be The End. Ten castles. DONE.
But you and me, Dear Readers, we’re not DONE yet! Because I’m sure you all want to hear about the latest news from the one-room used book store (the one that I co-manage to benefit the William Cullen Bryant Library of Roslyn, NY):
You can tell by the typeface that this book was, in its day, very groovy. If you recognize the author Avery Corman, it’s because he got famous later in his career for writing two novels that were made into movies; Oh, God! and Kramer vs. Kramer.
This book was published by Simon and Schuster in 1969, and some of the “jokes” are very much of their time.
Throughout the book, the type and the illustrations are the same color. Which is brown.
Some of the “jokes” are more timeless.
I’m thinking, it must have been really easy to get a book published in 1969.
My co-manager priced this book at 50 cents, but I’m thinking that if we get the right customer, we could get a whole dollar for it. Opinions?
And for my personal collection of The Most Boring Books in the World, this, too, came in last week:
Harper & Row published this book in 1966. I’m thinking, it must have been insanely easy to get a book published in 1966.
And this book is priceless.
Business at the used book store was a little slow this week because of the weather. It rained and got cold.
But then it got sunnier, but not warmer, and yesterday was a good day to perch on a rock and think about things:
I hope that you all have a great weekend, and that you, too, get the chance to
drink think about things, but not too hard. And not on a rock.
Taffy sends his XX OO.
How I survived the Kavanaugh shit storm was by drinking a lot — LOT — of vodka. So much vodka, in fact, that I am getting concerned that I will come out of the Drumpf reign of terror with a serious drinking problem if I don’t do something about it soon, or eventually.
Along with vodka, of course, come potato chips. I went through a LOT of potato chips these past few weeks. So, along with a devastating decline in my mental health, my health-health took a hit as things went from disgusting to deplorable to disastrous to downright dangerous for democracy.
Meanwhile, back at the used book store at the local library, someone donated a Kate Spade blank book which will figure prominently in this week’s blog:
So, getting back to my misery, two days ago I thought, hey, why not make myself feel even worse?, so I got on the bathroom scale to see how much fat I had added to my woes (there are 3,830 calories in a Vivian-sized bottle of voddy, and 2,400 calories in a “pity party” sized bag of Lay’s potato chips).
And lo, I have lost five pounds in the past two weeks.
Talk about being conflicted.
Fuck you, Mitch McConnell, for slaughtering every American ideal that made us a light unto nations, but thanks for making my butt smaller?
Meanwhile, back at the used book store that I co-manage to raise money for our local library, someone donated a Kate Spade blank book. I had been hoping for a blank book because I want to book-art a Winter scene that will be all white, and I’d been keeping my eye out for a blank book.
This Kate Spade blank book came in with an inscription on the end flap:
For Mexico and Barcelona, pls. fill in
Every single page of this blank book was left blank.
I was so excited about my all-white scene that I did not start building the castle right away. I began by making my Winter forest:
That’s my “sketch” tree there, the crappy one I made to work out my idea for Winter trees, which I will now show you how to make:
What I’m doing is cutting out several different sizes of snowflake-thingies, and I’m varying the patterns of the cut-outs.
I am using a lollipop stick to use as my guide in rolling up small tubes to use as the tree trunks
This is a terrible photo of three different sizes of snowfall thingies, each one with a little tube glued into the center:
This is what it looks like when the trees are assembled:
I made another variety of tree by cutting out two large snowflake thingies:
I put glue onto the “spine” of the first snowflake thingie (the fold, that is):
I attach the second snowflake thingie onto the first to make a snowflake-ball thingie:
Then I attach a flat trunk onto the snowflake-ball thingie:
So here’s the “forest’ so far:
And that’s as far as I got.
The reason I could get back to creating book art is because I quelled some of my blinding rage against Susan Collins by donating $20.20 to her Democratic opponent when she runs for reelection in 2020. It made me feel a lot better (but not as good as a huge V&T, which is the problem).
I looked out my upstairs bathroom window and saw this, on the garage roof, and it was a huge V&T for the eyes:
Yes, that is Taffy above. And this is Taffy (below) under the Adirondack chair during a light rain on Monday and yes, that small gray pile in the grass is Bibs during a light rain and yes, that’s Lickety, on the den patio table wondering, “Is it raining?”:
Dennis from next door had to get in on the nap party in the rain:
The next day, it wasn’t raining so Bibs and Taffy, who are mortal enemies, did this:
While Cindy and Candy did this on the living room couch:
And then Candy found a spot on the foyer floor that she preferred. This is Candy on Monday:
This is Candy on Tuesday:
This is Candy on Wednesday:
I took a photos on Thursday and Friday but I can’t find my camera and I really have to get this out to you but trust me, Candy on Thursday and Friday looked a LOT like Candy on Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday.
Cats. They are a mystery.
Thank you all, Dear Readers Marcella, Alex, Megan, angry cat, Casey, Barbara Marie, Kirra, Mary, John, Leslie, Patricia, Elizabeth, Marg-o, Becky,and Margot, for your Comments last week. You all make my despair tolerable.
Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. We need each other now, more than ever.
I wish that all I had to do to feel good about living in America today was to find me a sunbeam.
But even on my best day I could not match any cool for cat.
This (above) is the effortlessly glamorous Cindy. And . . . YAY! . . . Candy has rejoined the herd, now that we have her skin irritation issues under control, and she is happily snoozing on the brand new living room couches that we wish all the cats would stay far away from:
Meanwhile, back at the Bryant Library Used Book Store, we got in a Kate Spade Blank Book:
And I have longed for a blank book so I could construct an all-white castle and/or Winter-scape. So I googled “the smallest castle in England” because: Why Not?:
And then I did a “sketch” of it, just to see if I understood this structure:
And then the whole Brett Kavanaugh thing took over my life and I am obsessed with this putrid, vile, smash-mouth-worthy slime ball.
I hate this guy. I can not think straight, I hate this guy so much.
OK, I get that the der Drumpf shit stain of a president will nominate a conservative justice to the Supreme Court. I’m OK with that. Because all those Bernie Sanders pus balls thought they were too pure to vote for Hillary but nevermind.
But why do the Republicans back THIS pile of shit?? WHY?
I will be back here for you all as soon as I wait out the vote on whether or not this self-serving frat jock-strap full of entitled white guy dickishness get approved by the wormly bend-over spineless amoebas of the Republican party, an inevitability I am trying, even as I type, this, to drink away. (My husband is very understanding as to why I have to make myself really, really big vodka tonics [minus the tonic] this past week.)
This is the worst that I have felt, as an American citizen, in my entire life. And I lived through the Watergate hearings.
(Thank you, Yellow Dog Granny for letting me steal your memes.)
I’m out. I have never felt this kind of despair.
***Just to let you know: I posted this waaaaay early on Friday morning, and it did not “go live” , that is, appear on your tab/computer screen where it was SUPPOSED TO, and a lot of you Dear Readers wondered if I had abandoned you here on the Interwebs, and it took a lot of phone calls and a fair amount of cussin’ at film flam internet providers to get this post published on line. I’m sorry for the delay. Thank you all you Dear Readers who wondered if I had died. I hope you will all speak at my funeral, details to follow when the time comes.
But, Hell No, I refuse to die as long as there is a breath in me to Resist.
Without further ado, here is my Friday post:
The magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the United States has publicly withdrawn its endorsement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice following testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Jesuit-educated Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexually assaulting her decades ago.
“For the good of the country and the future credibility of the Supreme Court in a world that is finally learning to take reports of harassment, assault and abuse seriously, it is time to find a nominee whose confirmation will not repudiate that lesson,” the editors wrote.
Brett Kavanugh, proud alum of the Jesuit high school, Georgetown
Perp Prep: Kavanaugh included “Renate Alumnius” as an entry in his high school yearbook page, and two of Kavanaugh’s classmates told the New York Times the mentions of “Renate” were part of the high school football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.
The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, the newspaper reports, including in the caption of a group photo of nine football players that includes Kavanaugh and Mark Judge. In the photo caption, the group of student athletes are described as the “Renate Alumni.”
Renate Schroeder Dolphin attended a nearby Catholic girls’ school, and wasn’t aware of the “Renate” yearbook references about herself on the pages of Kavanaugh and his football teammates.
Fun Fact: Reante Dolphin is one of the 65 women who signed a September 14, 2018 letter of support for Kavanaugh after Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her allegation of sexual assault from when they were in high school.
A few days after signing that letter, Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to the Times: “I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago. I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. ”
Sept. 28, 2018:
The American Bar Association has urged the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to slow down on the vote on Brett Kavanaugh for a position on the Supreme Court until the FBI has time to do a full background check on claims of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford and other women.
“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” the ABA letter to committee leadership said. “Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.”
I am getting emails from Dear Readers today (Friday, Sept. 28) wondering if I have suddenly retired from blogging.
It seems that many of you are not getting my most recent blog post, and are instead still stuck on this old one from last week.
I am trying to fix it. And by “trying to fix it”, I mean I am pouring myself a big stinking vodka tonic and wishing that life wasn’t so hard. It’s been a tough week.
In fact, the title of this week’s blog post is: Jesus, What a Week.
Spoiler Alert: This week’s blog is also tagged “I Want to Punch Brett Kavanaugh in his Pie Hole.”
Please keep trying. I hope to figure out how to get us back to regularly scheduled programming real soon.
So I was in California last week, the cute little town of Calabasas, to be exact. I went to the Calabasas Film Festival. I saw Colette.
I did not like it. If you go, I will tell you that it is a very pretty film to look at, but turn your ears off. The dialogue is excruciating. It’s 65% expository (that is, the characters narrate their inner lives so that watching the movie feels like watching a term paper, and a high school term paper at that) and as the movie is mostly about Colette’s sex life and not her life as an artist, there was a lot of chatter about sex and very little chit chat about writing good sentences. I was bored.
I have zero curiosity about what people do in the privacy of their bedroom or the hayloft or the 6th arrondissement in Paris. I do not know why people make movies, or want to watch movies, about something as mundane as sexual awakenings.
Oh. Wait. Yes I do.
Sex sells. To people who have no imagination. . . or so I’m guessing. But I’m a Capricorn. The most interesting part of Colette for me was when her husband, a writer and editor, reads Colette’s first attempt at fiction and tells her that it is full of beautiful descriptions but won’t sell because it has no plot. I like this scene because I am starting my writing workshops here on the north shore of Long Island next week and I am gearing up to help people know who they are as writers, and being able to pinpoint writing blind spots is a crucial part of being a good workshop leader.
The thing about travel is that you never know where your next cup of tea is coming from. The first night of the Calabasas Film Festival, for example, I had two glasses of white wine and a big box of Junior Mints for dinner because I could not partake of the official menu of fishy stuff and avocado stuff, because I don’t like the taste of anything with a fin and the idea of eating green mush is revolting. So I scavenged what I could at the movie theater and ended up dining on my favorite forms of sugar.
Now that I’m back here on the East Coast, it’s taken me four full days to get back into the swing of things (because I made the mistake of catching up with the news and it’s been a tremendously big shit storm out there, tremendously big and wet, from the standpoint of the verbal diarrhea spewing from der Drumpf’s pie hole).
So I did not attempt to build a 10th castle this week. But I did go to the used book store to sort the recent donations so, just for you, here is the Most Boring Book of the Week straight from the Bryant Library Used Book Store:
When people talk to me about donating books I always make sure to tell them that we do not accept college text books. I think the title of this book explains why. Even if we price this at 50 cents nobody is going to buy this thing.
And worse yet, college text books are hideous both on the outside and on the inside:
I feel sorry for the student who had to read this book for her Spanish Literature class but why should she inflict her pain on us?
I looked up this book, which is a small (6 inches by 9 inches, 108 pages) book that is still for sale to liberal arts majors in America. It costs $47.50. Yes. this little book costs almost fifty dollars. (My books are twice as long and cost half as much.)
So that’s why the person who donated this book. She couldn’t bear to just throw away $47.50. It’s a lot to spend on a book that you will only read once in your life. But hey. Nobody asked her to waste her life by highlighting the progress of textual culture, in all its forms, in no way lessened the importance granted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to two other mediums of knowledge, memory, and persuasion: that is, the image and the oral discourse.
In other words, book publishing did not make painting and talking obsolete.
Cat news: While I was away, Candy moved out of my shower, finally. She now inhabits the upstairs hallway. Yay. I get my bathroom back, but I now have litter boxes and a napping cat that I have to step over every time I to-and-fro.
My 18-year old cat, Coco, is looking really bad so I am taking her to the vet this afternoon.
Next week I will have a castle to show you, one that I hope will be a show stopper.
Until next Friday, Dear Readers, have a great weekend. There’s a new, more evil hurricane of Republican bullshit heading our way and we all need to keep calm and flip congress in November.
It was so very hot here on the north shore of Long Island last week that we all, humans and super-cats alike, had to conserve our energy lest we budge an inch and over-heat ourselves:
So, looking to keep myself as cat-like and cool as possible, whenI saw these itty bitty books for sale at the Friends of the Bryant Library used book store I knew that I had found the perfect hot weather challenge (just the right size for minimal exertion):
Miniature books are irresistible, don’t you think? I’ve never done this before, but I found a figure that I wanted to keep intact so I used my scalpel to extract the Lesser Celandine fairy:
And then I set to making some plant-like objects by cutting shapes out of cardboard and wrapping them in strips of text:
For the record, the Lesser Celandine is a real flower. It is native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa and it abounds in the US as a wildflower, probably escaped from someone’s exotic garden. It is considered an invasive in New York State! To me, it is a very ordinary flower, nothing to get excited about, and it looks like this:
OK, I cheated. I printed out this botanical illustration in black and white so I could use the leaves.
I discovered that it’s tricky to glue a leaf onto a stem (because, gravity) so I had to make this little booster to hold the leaf in place while the glue dried:
I got two more leaves in place so I could settle the fairy’s castle into place:
As you can see (above), the fairy’s castle is round. To make this castle I’m cutting up an old Horizon magazine from 1959, specifically a harmless article about the city of Vienna… or so I thought until I was making one of the elements that goes atop that crenellated roof:
Danger lurks in every word… you can’t have Hitler appearing on a fairy castle! So I had to cover up this obscenity:
And then it was hot and I was too fiddly to take more photos so let’s skip ahead a few steps and without further ado, here is the Castle of the Lesser Celandine Fairy:
It’s very cloudy and misty here today on the north shore of Long Island as we are currently soaking up the remnants of Tropical storm Gordon that hit the Gulf of Mexico a week ago, and it’s so dark in the house that I can’t get a good photo so I had to take the castle outside to the den patio (on a dinner plate).
Yeah, I cheated and printed out some butterflies for extraneous embellishment.
Now, fairy castles are not my thing. I am only making any of these castles for a show in December, when I will display my book art at the Bryant Library to show off the many uses of the used books for sale at the Friends of the Bryant Library used book store, and cause a stampede that will see customers throwing money at us to buy out the inventory so we can raise thousands of dollars for the good work of the Friends of the Bryant Library.
I wanted to do this miniature castle for variety, to make the show like a box of chocolates. The flavor of this one is treacle.
But getting back to the heat wave we experienced last week here on the north shore of Long Island, let me tell you that it was brutal. I live in a 100-year old house that does not have air conditioning, and three days of 90-plus degree heat with 80 per cent humidity was almost more than I could bear.
One thing I did to beat the heat was hang out at the Bryant Library. Because I work at the Friends of the Bryant Library used book store a few days a week, I actually don’t spend much time at the library itself. But I took advantage of the taxpayer-funded air conditioning at the library and settled down one afternoon in the Periodicals section and caught up with the news from France by reading the latest Paris Match magazine.
And that’s how I learned that the leader of the French Green Party is a very nice guy who loves his cat:
Seriously. The article was all about how Yannick Jadot, an ecologist as well as a politician, loves his cat, Minouche (approximately “Kitty” in French). M. Jabot told stores about how Minouche likes to have her belly rubbed only by him, even though it was his kids who brought the cat home seven years ago (when Yannick says he got a instant crush on Minouche). Minouche walks all over his computer keyboard, sits with him every evening, and his kids complain that when he comes home from a business trip he runs to say Hi to the cat before he talks to them.
In other words, the usual Cat Person stuff.
That guy has my vote.
Temperatures have cooled off since last week and Candy is still hunkered down in my bathroom:
This photo represents progress in that she is no longer sleeping in her litter box and has allowed me to make her life more comfortable with nice soft bedding, and the anti-histamine that I give her once a day seems to have helped make her rash less bothersome. But she still refuses to budge from my bathroom so I may have to do something drastic (knock out pills?) to get her to a vet so we can cure her once and for all and I can stop using my husband’s bathroom because happily married people should not share bathrooms.
Hurricane Florence is heading towards one of my favorite places on Earth, the town of Oriental, North Carolina. Our friends told us that they took a long last look at their beloved coastal town and evacuated to Raleigh, not knowing if they would ever see their house again. This storm is huge and slow-moving, and the forecast is dire. Let’s hope for a thousand small miracles, and that everyone is prepared to get through this.
I am heading out to California for the weekend, while Top Cat stays home and rides herd on the herd.
Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you back here next Friday with my final castle.
Taffy is literally beside himself with excitement about this week’s blog post:
Ha ha. For the record, those are two separate cats. You know that’s Taffy on our patio chair with his back to you, and that’s our neighbor’s cat, Dennis, giving you the hairy eyeball. And they are both simply livid with excitement about today’s blog post!!!
Thanks to Dear Reader Alex, who alerted me to the existence of this book, I have a great new [to me] resource for my latest obsession:
This (below) is not the prettiest castle in the book, but it’s got that certain something that makes me want to build it. Namely, it’s got that twisty, winding path that climbs up a rocky cliff:
Twisty, winding path. I want to do that.
First, I made some sketches to figure out how I could make those rocky shapes and castle bits:
Speaking of rocks. On my kitchen table, where I tend to dump my various tote bags, I have two rocks: a Himalayan Rock Salt lamp and a smaller rock that I keep around because it looks like a potato:
You’ll notice that Lickety has the whole kitchen table to himself but he chooses to wedge himself in a hard place between a rock and another rock in order to nap on top of my lumpy black tote bag:
Same nap, different day — and yes, Lickety is using my potato-rock as a pillow:
*Sigh* Other people have gifted and talented cats. Mine just have good looks.
But back to the rocky cliff and the twisty, winding path:
All I did was cut out a path on light-weight cardboard using a pattern (there, in white bond [typing] paper) and then I glued little “pillars” of graduated heights underneath it:
Then I glued the pillars onto a sturdy base, and let the heights of the pillars do the dirty work of raising the height of the pathway:
Dear Reader Birdie asked me, last week, Who taught you to make castles? Nobody did, Birdie — I just sat down and figured it out myself, which is about 75% of the fun of this whole process: figuring how to make it possible. It took me a long, hard think to work out how to make this path, and I got a great deal of satisfaction in making it in real life just to prove that my thinking was right. When it works out it’s a real thrill.
So now I have my underlying structure. Now is when I cut out the book pages to cover up the path:
And then I enclose the entire path and pillars in more book pages, to make what I call the Form for the Twisty Winding Path. It looks simple, but thinking about and making this structure took all day:
Here’s the other thing that I accomplished on my first day of Building Castle No. 8:
As I work on these castles, I keep losing my two most important tools — my circle-making thingy (called a template, in green) and my big bluey ruler with the right-angle edge — they get lost under the pile of mess that this castle-making hobby produces in mucho quantities. So I simply hammered a nail into the front edge of my work table, where I hang these two tools and will never lose them again.
I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, to have my tools so handy.
OK, having made the Form for the Twisty, Winding Path, I was pretty much gratified that I had conquered the hardest part of this particular castle. But I still had to go make the rest of the castle to justify the twisty, winding path. This next photo isn’t very explicative, but it serves to show you how I built the rest of the castle around that weird, centerpiece Form I made for the twisty, winding path:
After three days, I was almost finished with this castle with the twisty, winding path and its bridge to another book (as theorized in last week’s blog post) but it was very ugly:
The bridge goes off at a gruesome angle due to my not thinking out the consequences of where I situated the castle on its book-base.
It does not make me happy to make an ugly castle. Although I made a darling little half-moon bridge (dedicated to Dear Reader Carol, who was very much looking forward to a cute bridge) with a cool-looking tower for the twisty, winding path, things fell apart when I assembled it all together. As an appendage, it was very awkward and ugly. I was very sad.
I actually had a bad night’s sleep over this. So had no choice but to wake up the next morning and cut off the cute little half-moon bridge:
I couldn’t leave that twisty, winding path hanging out there as a dead-end. So here’s what I did to resolve my Ugly Castle Problem: I made another twisty, winding path that jigged to the right, where it terminated at a cute little tower glued into the corner of the book:
It doesn’t photograph well, but here’s maybe a better look at it:
No? Not better? Maybe this will show how I made a less ugly twisty, winding path for this castle:
Yeah, that’s probably the last time I carve into a book like that. It took forever. . . like, ten hours over two days . . . and I really have to find a more joyous way to spend my ever-dwindling allotment of the time I have left in which I live and breathe and could be drinking martinis instead. Sitting in my dining room with two different kinds of scissors, hacking through 800 pages of Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy is not my idea of fun. I mean, I might get hit by a car tomorrow, and this is how I spent my last day on Earth??
Dear Reader Marilyn asked me, last week, whether I could find some kind of electric tool to use instead of using up my mortality by hand-cutting with scissors. I looked into that, Marilyn, by researching the work of book artists who carve deeply into their books. The most famous book-carver is a guy called Guy Laramee, you should google him, and he uses — wait for it — a sandblaster.
Other book-carvers use scalpels or exacto-knives. I think their carving looks too rough, for my purposes, and it looks equally as boring as using scissors. I think I’ll just limit my carving time by making less ambitious landscapes, or by learning how to scissor while loaded.
Castle Naming: Dear Reader Casey suggested Whimsy Towers for last week’s castle. I like it. Way back, a book reviewer wrote that the writing and illustrations in my first two books “are charming and whimsical, but can come very close to twee.” I was not insulted, and I did a whole blog post about it — in short, twee is a Britishism for appallingly cute. I work on the edge of twee. No brag, just fact.
And I am the first to tell you that these castles are all about twee, so Whimsy Towers is a perfect name. Because, by the way, people who like my work frequently call me whimsical, which is a surprise to me since in real life I am short-tempered, foul-mouthed, and opinionated. I eat whimsical for breakfast, as a sprinkle topping on the bloody beating hearts that I have ripped out of the chests of my enemies. But I make castles!
Thanks to Dear Reader Mae’s Comment last week, I now have a whole list of literary castles to inspire me to name my other castles with something that hints of mystery, portent, and whimsy. I hope to be free-associating soon, with a glass of ice cold inspiration if you know what I mean.
Or maybe I’ll just be celebrating a most excellent news cycle!
The Resistance has had a good week. Between Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, and that Anonymously agitating (but, in its own way, hilarious) New York Times op-ed about the moles working inside the White House, we have der Drumpf lit up like something hideous that lights up a frothing, unhinged shade of orange when things are getting too close to the truth in Crazytown (I suck at similes).
Let’s have fun and watch as der Drumpf goes even more insane trying to tamp down this
opening of the floodgates leak. Now that it’s a matter of national security, let’s watch as he threatens to bomb the New York times, sue Woodward for libel, declare a Code Red because YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL, that’s where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I’ll prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that I KNOW WHO TOOK THE MISSING STRAWBERRIES.
Oh, this is going to be so good.
So let’s sit back and watch this unravel.
And to Dear Reader Margot, who hopes for a Blue Tsunami, I’m saying that this public meltdown will prove to be the cause of the mutiny that produces a Purple Tidal Wave in November.
Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.
OK. Maybe I am a little bit whimsical.
Taffy is super excited — and I mean he can hardly contain himself — about today’s blog post:
Bibs, as usual, can’t figure out what’s going on, but anywhere Taffy goes, Bibs stays close to keep an eye on him:
It’s Friday, so there must be a castle in the works! Excitement galore!!
You can see what made me want to do this one:
See that fat round tower in the center with the two smaller towers popping out of it? I have NO IDEA how to make that, but I have to try. Also, I’ve been wanting to put a castle on a cliff and this one, well, that looks like a cliff to me.
I call my castle-making Book Art, because I use pages from old books as my building material (the Art part of Book Art) and I use books as things that prop up the stuff I build (the Book part of Book Art) but in my opinion these castles would be real, grown-up Book Art if I incorporated more of the Book into the Art. As, like, the book is a structural element of the building or scene, as if the Book were an integral part of the castle.
You now know for a fact that I’m getting fancy-thinking and artistically ambitious when I haul out the subjunctive.
Practically speaking, this means cutting up the book. (Look away, Steve. This is going to get graphic and yes, actual books were harmed.)
So I took a good look at that castle on the cliff and knew that I had just the right book to cut to shreds:
It’s a good thing that books are bound with those blank pages called endpapers inside each coverso that my castle can perch on a clean, non-Nazi platform:
This was my first shot at cutting the guts out of book and I made a mess of it. But every castle-maker needs to practice a new skill, so I wasn’t too hard on myself, and it was only an old Book Club edition of The Goebbels Diaries, which we sold (to me) at the used book store for the bargain price of $1.00. I learned at lot about cutting the guts out of a book:
Dear Reader Casey emailed me last week with a question about last week’s castle, about the open-book perch I made from an old copy of the plagiarized work of fiction called Roots:
“As I remember”, Casey wrote me, “Roots had some pretty violent content. How did you find a non-violent page in the middle of the book to leave open?”
Here’s the deal: When I use a middle-of-the-book as the platform for a castle, I can use any book for sale at the used book store regardless of its content because I never leave the original pages hanging out in the open. For last week’s castle, I cut four pages from a similarly-sized book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I glued them over the pages from Roots, so that the book appears to be an old tome of German fairy tales instead of a plagiarized American folk tale. The rest of the text that is exposed by the cuts to the corners is impossible to read, so no cover-up is necessary.
However, when I cut into The Goebbels Diaries, I did have to watch out for the odd “Reich” and “Jew” that popped out, which I cut out (Goebbles uses “Jew” a lot), but then I ditched the whole thing as a practice exercise any way so good riddance, Goebbels.
One more digression: I was sorting a donation that came in last week and came across these two YA novels (Young Adult, ages approx. 12 – 17):
That font on the left side practically screams 1972, doesn’t it? The other one, which shows two girls in a crappy bedroom with a sewing kit, is from 1977. As a rule, we toss any book published before 2000 unless it is historical fiction or a Newbury Prize winner, but I took these books home with me because of their titles. I’m tempted to start a collection of kids’ books with “Die” or “Death” in the title. Because what is life without a bit of whimsy?
I also found this in another pile of donated books:
I don’t know what to do with this letter, but I can’t throw it away.
So, where were we? Oh, right: we left me with scissors in my hand and an undated but probably 1980s era Book Club edition of Vol. I of Shakespeare’s plays. This is how that turned out:
This is its good side:
This is its bad side, as those two towers popping out of the roof of the fat tower were beastly hard to do but I’m pretending that I intended all along for it to look a bit wonky:
I always have the most fun finding bits and pieces to decorate with:
Top Cat asked me what I call this castle,and it had not occurred to me to give the castles names, but of course now that he’s put the idea into my head I am writhing with a castle-naming desire to find the best names in the universe for each construction.
My first tactic would be to steal from Paul Klee (1879 – 1940), the Swiss German artist whose highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. He was the rare fine artist who was never lazy nor inconsiderate enough to call any of his art works “Untitled”.
P.S. If an artist can’t be bothered to give a title to a work of art, then I can’t be bothered to give a crap.
Paul Klee showed up for his viewers and for his art and gave his watercolors and drawings — all abstract compositions, by the way — the most wonderful titles. Here’s a sample:
A Young Lady’s Adventure
Separation in the Evening
Once Emerging From the Gray of Night
Heroic Strokes of the Bow
And my very special favorite, on view at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, is this:
This is called: Mural From the Temple of Longing <Thither>.
I have already stolen this title for my first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam, on page 50-51:
So it would be bad form to steal this same title again.
If stealing from Paul Klee doesn’t lead to a brilliant castle name, my fall-back tactic is to administer a therapeutic dose of vodka and tonic and see what pops up in my head. It takes about a pint of booze to lighten up my persnickety Capricorn habits of mind and free-associate as well as a Swiss-German surrealist.
To tell the truth, my mind is very scattered these days. I have a sick kitty, and that wrecks my concentration. This kitty is the one who as lived in my house for ten years and has never let me touch her, so getting her to the vet is torture. I have pursued her all over the house by setting traps — TRAPS, in my own HOUSE — in the basement, the living room, the hallway, the dining room…and she evades them all. She was caught (by me) in the same trap ten years ago and she’s smart enough to not fall for that again.
So, as a last resort, Candy has holed up in my bathroom upstairs:
You can see her dermatitis, where she has pulled out most of her fur because of some kind of skin irritation. I gave her a nice fluffy bed to sleep in and a new litter box to poop in, so of course she sleeps in the litter box and poops in the bed.
My vet did offer a Hail Mary in the form of an over-the-counter anti-histamine that can be used to treat skin rashes, and Candy gets half a pill every day, which she devours because I dissolve it in her favorite snack of diced clams in clam juice.
We’ve been at this for a week and I haven’t seen any more tufts of fur wafting in her wake, so maybe the anti-histamine is working.
I don’t know how long this stand off will last but I would like to have my bathroom back because for now, it is off-limits to me because I can’t go near Candy without her totally freaking out.
My brain is out of gear for another reason: I deny, I reject, I veto, and I refuse to accept that August is over and tomorrow it will be September. Nope. Not gonna happen, not on my watch. Every last shred of my intelligence is dedicated to pretending that for once, things will stay just as they are, here in the last fine days of endless Summer.
Please, Universe, please let that happen.
Or, Universe, and don’t act like You don’t hear me, please let October be worth it with a huge-ass report from special counsel Robert Meuller that details, irrefutably, that der Drumpf is the lying, treasonous, fake-billionaire con-artist turd-pile Anti-Christ (for all those shit-eating MAGA evangelicals) that we know he is. I can face Winter knowing that it will be awash in a Blue Wave. Please, Universe, please let that happen.
Until then, Taffy and Bibs will be warming up our seats on the sunset-watching apparatus in the backyard.
Have a great weekend, Dear Readers. May all your Summer wishes come true, and all your cats not sleep in their litter boxes.
P.S. Here’s the books that I will defile for the next castle:
They are Volumes 1 and 2, published in 1971, worth $4.99 on amazon.com. Our used book store price is $1.00 each. But the thing I want to exploit is this:
I’m thinking: Bridge.
See you back here next week.
This is a castle:
This is a cat:
That is actually my cat, Taffy, lounging in the driveway, using a rock as a pillow. It doesn’t look comfortable at all, but that’s Taffy.
I was thinking about the qualities of Patience last week because I got a call from a friend of a friend, who had discovered four feral kittens, all black as night, on the loose in her neighborhood and needed help in trapping them. She knew that I’m a cat-catcher from way back, so the next evening I loaded up my traps in my car and drove six miles to meet her and several other concerned cat people who wanted to get these kittens into safe homes. If you remember, trapping feral cats is how I got Taffy in the first place, him and every other cat who has called Top Cat Manor home. (Currently, there are eight cats ruling this roost, and I’ve trapped every one of them.)
So I set four traps and I ask everyone to back away, to give the kittens room to roam. As it turns out, they aren’t four kittens — they are three kittens and a very young mama cat.
For the first four minutes, the kittens sniff at the food that we use as bait for the traps, they pad cautiously around the contraptions, trying to figure out how to get the food. . .
. . . and nobody can stop talking and fidgeting, worrying about how the traps might not work, how the kittens might be too scared or too dumb to figure them out, how horrible it will be if we don’t catch them, etc etc etc, suggesting that we move the traps closer together, further apart, on the other side of the property, use different food, etc etc etc. Some people tried to entice the kittens with their own food, to hand-feed them to grab them bare-handed. Someone ran home to fetch Portuguese tuna fish, which is supposed to be the very thing no cat can resist.
Everyone who had never trapped cats before (and no one there had ever trapped cats before) could not keep still, or quiet.
And that’s when I noticed that, contrary to what I’ve always thought about myself as a person always in a hurry, I do have great patience. You need great patience to catch cats. You need to watch, and wait, and be calm and careful, which I am, for however long it takes to catch a cat.
You need the same kind of patience to build a castle, as I am going to show you today.
You can see the obvious appeal of this little castle illustration that I found in a children’s book from 1924:
Those towers were a fun challenge to make:
And pointy roofs!
I must have spent an hour trying to get those side towers, because their roofs would not work until I figured out that they had to be faceted, and not smooth as in the illustration:
Beware the people who draw castles, for they are not limited by real life and real physics, so they tend to illustrate impossible constructions.
When the castle was complete, I put it on a small platform in the middle of its book-base:
Then I tried to come up with a way that the pages of the book could shape the hill on which the castle perches:
But I could not come up with anything that worked. So I pulled the castle away from its base, and I decided to cut into the book itself:
I didn’t feel bad about destroying this book. I chose the book because it came into our used book store in deplorable condition — the binding was shot (I had to glue it back in place) and the dust jacket was gone, and it was stained and shabby…which made it worthless as a collectible, but valuable to me as a perch for a castle.
It’s not a book that I would have liked much anyway, even if it had been in perfect condition. The book is a first edition, 1976 copy of Roots, which is a book I don’t like because I don’t like plagiarists and I don’t like liars. In 1978 Alex Haley lost in court in a suit brought by Harold Courlander, an author from Bethesda, Md., who contended there were substantial similarities between Roots and his own earlier novel, The African. The settlement was kept secret, but rumored to be several hundred thousand dollars.
Alex Haley also claimed that the story of Roots came from his maternal grandmother’s recollections of an ancestor’s journey from Gambia in West Africa to slavery in America, but when it was proved by the Times of London that hHaley had fictionalized much of the tale, Haley issued a mealy-mouthed statement that his book was truthful as “a symbolic history of a people.”
So I felt just fine cutting up this book:
Last week at the used book store, we got an old copy of The Goebbels Diaries. It’s a collection of the writings of Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda. I’m going to feel A-OK cutting up the words of a Nazi.
As for the cat catching, we caught the mama cat and two of her babies within 15 minutes. I took them home with me, and they were picked up the next morning by volunteers from a near-by rescue.
It took three more days to catch the last kitten, who was the runt of the litter. We assumed it was a “she” because tiny as she was, she was able to survive on her own for those days so she was obviously was the smartest of them all. Oh! I can’t tell you how heartbreaking it was to watch her, day after day, come around looking for food and family, this teeny little thing alone in the world.
By the time we caught her she had become famous in the neighborhood, so she was immediately adopted by the daughter-in-law of one of the home owners in the area. She was taken to a vet, who confirmed she was a she, and she now lives with two other cats who treat her like their own babies and a very accepting Labrador Retriever.
She also as a new name. She’s called Velvet.
As if that weren’t enough to celebrate, the world was also gifted with the simultaneous conviction of Paul Manafort and the guilty plea of Michael Cohen.
It’s been a great week for America and four black cats.
Have a fabulous weekend, everyone. May all your quests have happy endings.