Book Art

There were no robo-calls from the governor warning us to stay off the roads, the local TV news station did not break into my Judge Judy viewing time with dire forecasts of dangerous weather, and the cats did  not haul in extra firewood or stock up on macaroni and cheese in case our power was knocked out. So when I woke up on Saturday morning and discovered that had been blanketed with five inches of snow on the ground, I was totally unprepared. This had snuck up on me.

The huge holly bush in front of Steve’s cubby took the brunt of the storm. Steve stayed dry and cozy.

We called a Snow Day at the used book store because we didn’t feel like shoveling our cars out in 20-degree weather and I spent the day drinking tea and toasting a loaf of ciabatta. Not the whole loaf all at once. Every two hours I cut a ladylike slice and slathered various toppings onto it, from plain salty butter to spicy hummus, with peanut butter and melted cheese and butter-and-marmalade in between. I could eat nothing but toast for the rest of my life.

Saturday turned out to be a warm and sunny day so most of the snow had melted by Sunday afternoon, and that’s when came dire robo-warnings from the governor, the TV news casters losing their minds in panic forecasts, and the cats hauling in extra firewood and looking up Top Cat’s best recipe for macaroni and cheese. We were going to get it again, and this time it was going to be BIG, the BIG blizzard such as we, so far, have not suffered through here on the north shore of Long Island.

I went to the grocery store to stock up on essentials, and the Food Emporium was packed with lots of other people similarly preparing for disaster. This is when I thought to myself, “At times like this, I must remember to wear my wedding rings.” This thought came to me as I was standing on line at the checkout counter and the lady in front of me, no Spring Chicken herself, with a cart full of milk, bread, meat, green vegetables, fruit, etc., turned to look at me and said, “Ma’am, you can go before me.”

WTF?? She called me Ma’am! And she had to be, at least, within shouting range of 60!  WHO DOES THAT?? As if  I were some object of pity. . .

. . . And as far as I could reckon, the only difference between she and I was that she had a cart full of “family” food while  I was standing there holding 10 cans of cat food and a bag of Cheetos, and no wedding ring. As if I were a single cat lady who was going to die alone and whose body would not be found until the neighbors realized it had been weeks since anyone had seen me out in my front yard yelling at the kids to stay off my grass. I was slightly mortified, but I took her up on her offer. I hate waiting in line at the grocery store on a good day, and this was not a good day.

Ad, by the way, I actually was “single” for a few days last week when Top Cat went to San Fransisco. I only eat Cheetos when he’s not around and I am missing him like crazy. He bought me some cute socks while he was on the Left Coast.

So, at 4 o’clock in the afternoon on Sunday March 3, the cats and I set the Champagne-O-Meter out in the back yard and settled in for a snowy Sunday night:

First, it rained:

At dusk the flakes began to fall:

By dawn, the world was transformed and I was seriously considering putting left-over Cheetos on my toast for breakfast:

Call me a Romantic, but seeing a bottle of Champagne that looks like this (below) makes me fall in love (with alcohol):

For those of you who are not dipsomaniacs, there is a less boozy way to gauge the snow fall, something I call the Hutch-O-Meter.

Here’s the old rabbit hutch in my backyard on Sunday afternoon:

Here’s the old rabbit hutch in my backyard on Monday morning:

That’s enough about the weather and how easy it is to get on my Shit List (see: DO NOT EVER CALL ME MA’AM).

Not to blow my own horn, but I have been very busy, and very effective, raising money this past year for my local library. Between the stellar earnings from the book store that I co-manage, and the money I have coaxed out of various corporate and private sponsors for this miniature golf event I cooked up, I have raised $17,800 for the library through my volunteer time and effort.

To publicize the mini golf event to be held on April 6, I  get the display case in the library lobby (the same one that showed off my book art/paper castles in December) for the month of March. I am going to hang a big banner that lists all our corporate sponsors, and I’m going to put in my new Book Art (I call it,  Miniature Miniature Golf) to drum up excitement for the event.

You have not seen the new Book Art in its finished form, so here is the installation (they go together in pairs). NO. 1:

All the bears: Corduroy, Paddington, Pooh, and Baloo.

NO. 2 . All the bunnies — Velveteen Rabbit, Thumper, Peter Rabbit, Benjamin Bunny, and The White Rabbit — with the crew from The Wind in the Willows:

The next pair I call Here Be Dragons:

That’s the big green dragon from the Inheritance series of YA novels; that’s the kid and his dog from Dragons Love Tacos; there’s Arthur the Aardvark, and the two girls from the cover of Where The Sidewalk Ends (looking forlornly at their golf ball, which has fallen into the cave below).

And beasts and ogres:

I’m so happy that there is a new How To Tame Your Dragon movie out this year!

The final twosome begins with Bilbo Baggins sitting outside his hobbit hole:

And this is the grand finale to the Miniature Miniature Golf saga, a scene of anarchy with cats:

You can’t see The Giving Tree very clearly, so here’s what is going down on that side of the scene:

It’s a golf club. The Giving Tree is giving a golf club.

And there’s Alice, holding a flag with the time and date of the library’s mini golf event:

I hope that these little scenes would encourage people to linger at the display case, burn the play date into their minds, and entice them to come back to the library and pay $5.00 per person to play golf.

Miniature Miniature Golf will be on view at the Bryant Library from March 10 to April 7.

I’m publishing this blog post on Thursday afternoon and it’s been so frigid this week that all the snow has now frozen into a solid land iceberg. On Sunday the weather will be in the 50s and it will be rainy — San Fransisco weather — and I hope all the snow and ice will be washed away.

I have found some interesting things in the donation bags at the used book store this week, and I plan to do a whole blog post about them next week, but here’s one little tidbit to tide you over:

Before there was an Air Force, there was an Army Air Forces, and this is a diploma from the huge facility on Miami Beach, Florida at the beginning of the war. Clark Gable trained here. The Army was in desperate need of administrative officers and they took men as old as 45. During the way, 30,000 men were graduated from Miami Beach. The graduates performed ground duties that would free up the guys who flew the planes from any responsibilities that might keep them from flying bombing missions.

Lucky for us, one of our volunteers knows the guy who dropped off the donation that contained this diploma, so we have notified him to come get this  artifact.  I found the diploma between the pages of a big heavy coffee table book called The Age of Suleyman The Magnificent, 416 pages published by Harry Abrams.

I have been wondering about the filing system in use, in which a WWII Army Air Force diploma from 1942 is filed into a book about the longest-reigning sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1987.

I dislike Ottoman art, so at first I put this book in the “Kill” file; but then I had a second thought and retrieved it. I put a $2 price on it and maybe it will find it’s perfect reader, some day, out there.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. It can’t stay mean and cold forever, so let’s just grit our teeth and get through the next three weeks.

XXOO

 

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Sweet Dennis was gathered to the ancestors on Monday, Feb. 25, on an unseasonably mild day. He was buried in a corner of my neighbor’s garden where, in Summer, there will be a rose bush in bloom. Here are some of my remembrances of him during the 11 seasons that we were lucky to have him in our lives:

Yes, there is a kitty in this photo.

The old rabbit hutch in our backyard was Dennis’s first favorite place.

Summer was when Dennis was his most scenic:

 

Dennis with Taffy, his mortal frenemy.

And this is how Dennis coped with the heat waves of Summer ’17 and ’18:

We will miss his sweet face and bright smile.

Thank you, Dear Readers, for all your dear wishes for Dennis and the people he leaves behind. It will take a long while before I stop looking out for him at every breakfast, or looking twice at Taffy trying to figure out if it’s him or that other handsome darling ginger cat from next door.

In times of sorrow, thank goodness for books and tea. A friend sent me a link to a video of Amy Sedaris’s book collection, for obvious reasons:

Screen shot.

You might recall that I have a very small collection of color-coded book covers, mostly just for “decoration” in the two  small built-in bookshelves I have in our living room , but Amy Sedaris goes over the top with hers. When it’s done on a big scale like this, it’s very fetching, don’t you think?

Amy Sedaris says that when she wants to find a book, she has to look it up on line to see what color the jacket is so she’ll know where to find it on her bookshelf. That sounds easier than the system that I currently have in place, which is ad hoc hit-or-miss, Where Did I Put That Book I Just Had In My Hands?

In Used Book Store news, we got this the other day:

This was a new way for someone to do a drive-by used book donation — they dumped it by the library’s book return.  It was a plastic carrier bag full of paperback books in Arabic and, no judgment here, there is no way that we could sell Arabic-language books at our little charity used book store, so I asked the librarian if they needed this load for their foreign language collection — and the librarian said Yes. That’s the first time the library has taken unwanted books off my hands. So, yay for the Arabic language readers in Roslyn, Long Island!

We also got this in another donation last week:

We do not normally accept dictionaries because they do not sell, but this month a collage artist let me know that she would take any and all dictionaries that we get (the older the better). This Funk & Wagnall’s was from 1973 — not exactly “old” because that’s the year that I graduated from high school — but I put a $3 price tag on it and the artist loved it.

The collage artist is not interested in children’s dictionaries, so I knew that I would have to scrap this one that came in last week, too, because nobody buys children’s dictionaries:

But first, I checked out the end papers because that’s what I do before I get rid of books these days, and wow — this dictionary had lovely vermillion-colored end papers, plus a dazzling little something extra:

I love that tiny four-leaf clover. Then I flipped to the back cover and got this:

The clover flowers are still knotted, still in tact as a sweet little necklace and now I don’t know what to do. I can’t rip out the end papers, I can’t throw out some child’s gathered miracles…so the book is sitting in Top Cat’s den, on top of a pile of other rescued books that are not worth selling at the used book store, but also aren’t deserving of being thrown out.

That pile of books includes a battered 1922 copy of The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morely. If it were a 1919 copy, it might be worth $300, but it’s just a 1922 edition and Christopher Morley, a Long Island writer whose house used to be about half a block from mine (until 2010, when it was torn down and a really nice mansion was put in its place) is unreadable. I find his prose to be extremely annoying, and this 1922 book isn’t worth a dollar, but still. . . it’s survived this long, I hate to toss it. So Top Cat’s den is the new Limbo for old books and Top Cat is thrilled.

If you remember from last week, I had made a tree for the Cheshire Cat from Alice in Wonderland:

I introduced you all to this original sketch from Sir Tenniel, which mashed up the Cat with a certain Tea Party:

So, in celebration of March being the Tea Time Month. . .

. . . I am going to make a paper tea cup to go with my paper Cheshire Cat tree!

And the crowd goes wild!

Page 39, When Wanderers Cease to Roam.

While the tea cup seems as if it is one of those designs that seems so natural and so very handily form-fitting-function that is must have appeared plena canite, the tea cup as we know it is actually a culturally-specific adaptation to 19th-century Western tea drinking.

The handle to the tea cup is the most recent aperture to have evolved in the five thousand year-old history of tea. It’s a very hi-tech addition to the classic design that originated in China about 2,500 years before Jesus (who preferred wine over tea) was making with the loaves and fishes.

I made the tea cup’s bowl and saucer in one afternoon, and it was so mundane that I didn’t even bother to photograph the process (sorry). But then it came time to add the handle to the tea bowl and I knew I was in for it BIG TIME. I pondered the engineering and came up with an audacious plan.

This is the tea cup that I used as my model:

Wedgwood, style “Derwent” scalloped, 1964 – 68, now discontinued.

I am left handed so I never use a tea cup in this orientation (as shown above), but when I had to draw it I could only do it in its right-handed mode. I drew the handle, then I flipped it and traced its reverse image there on the paper beneath the cup so I wold have two exact copies of the handle I wanted to make:

Let’s call this handle shape, the “Q”.

I am going to try to re-make the handle as a form (in other words, I am not going to wrap it, as I would the trunk of a tree; or roll it and bend it as I would a tree branch). That strip of paper with the notches cut out of it, called the strap, is what I am going to glue between the two mirror-image “Q”s. I have to be very precise when I fold up the notched edges, so I use a small ruler like so:

This is the strap ready to be glued into place:

I lay down a line of elmer’s glue and let it set for a minute or two, to be less runny and more “tacky”:

Then I lay down the strap onto the glue, using the fat end of my scalpel to tap it in place (because my big fat fingers won’t fit in this teeny space):

I let the glue dry, and then I trimmed the “Q”(mostly) and now I’m ready for the other “Q” to be glued on top:

So now I have a hollow handle, and to my great relief, if fits against the Alice in Wonderland tea bowl I made earlier:

Then I take text from my $1 copy of Alice in Wonderland and glue it onto one of the”Q”s, and I insert an inner strap to make the handle not hollow:

That’s the tea bowl and saucer in the background.

Of course I’m using the name of the chapter as decoration on the outer strap:

I pay attention to detail.

And this is the wonder of engineering that is the paper handle for my paper tea cup:

It fits!

The bowl was almost perfectly circular until the glue dried, then it got wonky.

Because of how I want to use this tea cup and saucer, I am not adding the foot that is in the Wedgwood prototype but some day, I would like to make a footed paper tea cup, yes I would.

I am very proud of this tea cup. You can actually pick it up by its handle — it works, and it’s sturdy.

I can’t show you, yet, how I’m going to use this tea cup with the Cheshire Cat tree, because I am photographing all my book art pieces for posterity and I can only do that in my dining room when it’s overcast ousted. It’s been sunny the past few days — cold, with random snow flurries that don’t stick around, but sunny — but I can show you some of the book art that I’ve succeeded getting pictures of so far:

Top Cat got me some large sheets of beautiful dark black suede-like paper, and I made little set with several sheets of this paper taped into the recesses of the window seat that is built into the north wall of our dining room.

Here’s Farmer McGregor’s vegetable garden and the Wind in the Willows scene that you read about back in January:

When I was in Florida two weeks ago I raided some thrift shops and found The Velveteen Rabbit, and Thumper to add to Beatrix Potter’s Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny. The White Hare came with Alice:

I used Inga Moore’s illustrations for Mole, Rat, Frog, and Badger from Wind in the Willows:

Dear Reader Francesca sent me a wonderful copy of WITW with the the wonderful illustrations by Ernest Shepard, but I could not make them work for this project, in which all the characters have to be playing golf. The nest time you’re looking through a children’s picture book, see if you can find characters that are striking poses into which you can insert a golf club.

It’s not easy.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. It’s Michael Cohen Testimony Before the House Oversight Committee Day + 2, a great day to be alive in America (for the first time since Nov. 9, 2011).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If you haven’t read about our dear sweet half-cat Dennis (Top Cat and I shared him with our neighbors) you can catch up with the him in the post that follows today’s usual blather about terribly important things such as weather, other cats, champagne, books, and stuff you can make out of books. We love Dennis to infinity and beyond.

Let’s start today’s drivel with Taffy on Wednesday morning, when that little brain of his, which is attuned to all the vibrations of this wondrous cosmos, detected an exciting snow storm barreling towards us here on the north shore of Long Island and celebrated with a roll in his favorite patch of dirt:

That’s Taffy’s mortal enemy, Bibs, watching him, thinking, How is it possible that this idiot is the boss of me?

A few hours later, here’s Taffy surveying the same spot:

And then his little brain sparks joy and he dances upon the flakes. It’s SNOWING!!

Meanwhile, on the front stoop, here’s Steve emerging from his super-cozy heated cubby to let me know that he’d like something along the lines of a nice turkey pâté, please:

And now, Dear Readers, due to a severe lack of snow here on the north shore of Long Island in the months of December and January, here is your very first Winter of 2019 Champagne-O-Meter!!

12:30 PM:

1:30-ish PM:

A little after 2:30 PM:

3:31 PM:

4:40PM:

Just before 5:30 PM:

6:45 PM:

It was an underwhelming blizzard, but the next morning, the Champagne-O-Meter was perfection:

There is nothing better than a bottle of bubbly that has been cooling deep in Nature’s ice bucket for ten hours. I wish I drank champagne for breakfast but I’m not that much of a degenerate, yet, so the Champagne-O-Meter been moved to the fridge, counting the hours until 5 o’clock.

So let us move on, from cats and champagne, to cats and books and stuff that you can make out of books.

I know you know what’s happening here:

And I know you know that I’m going to be making this tree and this cat out of paper and the books that I slaughter in the name of art.

To begin, I chopped a derder that I got when I used up the last of my paper towels:

Yes!! Did you know that that cardboard tube inside a roll or TP or paper towels is called a derder?

Now you know.

Then I inserted a taller, slimmer roll of bond paper inside:

This tree is going to be tall and top-heavy, so I need the double-stegnth of the two rolls, one inside the other, to make the tapered trunk. But I had to figure out how to make the inside roll stay in place and I have to confess, this is the part of making stuff out of paper that I LOVE.

I LOVE McGuyvering solutions to really stupid problems. So I came up with this:

BTW, that’s my diamond-grading tweezers. You need the needle-like tips to grasp a loose diamond and, it turns out, it’s also really good for grasping tiny bits of paper.

You see how the O-Ring slips over the inside roll, down to meet the top of the derder?

Now I have to stabilize the two rolls:

This is how I make the tree trunk into a taper:

DONE:

(With the taper. We have a long, long ways to go until we done with the tree.)

While you wait for the taper to dry (it’s loaded with Elmer’s glue), you can make some various size rolls and flat sticks that you will use for tree branches:

When the taper is dry, you take your scalpel and hack a hole into the side of the tree trunk:

Insert one of your small paper rolls:

This is OK if you want your tree branch to shoot straight out of the tree trunk. But if you want to make a bendy tree branch, you have to cut a little nick into the side of the paper roll like this:

Now you can fold the roll to make a bendy tree branch. You have to slather it with Elmer’s glue and sit holding it while it dries. and this is boring, but you can pass the time rehearsing in your head the scathing comments or bitchslaps you would give to any of the bullshit Kardashians if you would meet them in a dark alley or on a talk show:

Or you can use the time to compose sonnets. It’s up to you:

I don’t have any use for this page that I ripped out of little book that I cut up, except for the green bits in this illustration:

I am cutting out leaves (what a diamond grader would call a “Marquise cut”: ):

The Marquise Cut is a low-class cut in that it is shallow (a bad thing for a diamond to be) and is for people who want a lot of bling for the buck. It’s a showy cut, and is reserved for getting the most out of an inferior stone. I see a Marquise Cut (you pronounce the “S”) and I think, Tacky. It’s the diamond equivalent of riding a motorized scooter around a Walmart parking lot drinking wine out of a Pringle’s can, except that I definitely want to be best friends with that lady.

A good round cut is a very fine cut, but an Emerald Cut is divine.

I glue these leaves on one at a time, using my diamond-grading tweezers to place them onto the branches:

It is a very delicate and thoughtful and time-consuming operation that might drive some people crazy, but I find it extremely calming and mentally absorbing. I LOVE doing this.

This is what the tree looks like from behind:

Then I had to leave town and go . . .

. . . to FLORIDA! I had to visit my favorite Florida kitties, Sammy. . .

. . . and Mabel, wo had never seen a Winter coat before so she had to test drive it for kitty compatibility:

I left sunny warm FLORIDA on a Delta flight that for some reason tracked us as if we were flying out of West Africa to JFK:

Sorry for the red herring. But if I ever go back to Africa, which I probably never will, it would not be back to my old stomping grounds of the west; it would be to South or East Africa to see gorillas and to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

My theory is that the same computer glitch that had us flying out of the Gulf of Guinea also booked the plane with only 18 passengers:

There were 106 empty seats on this plane! It was the single greatest plane ride I have ever taken! No fights for the overhead luggage racks, no shoving for arm rests, and everybody got double free bevvies and snacks, and de-planing was a joy. A joy, I tell you.

And then I came home and finished the tree. . .

. . . except for the cat:

I did, I did vandalize a hard copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to get this cat, and then I put him in the tree whence he grins, and I saw that I ad made the tree too damn big. Bummer. Buuuuuuuummer.

P.S., I don’t mind that the tree looks very lumpy and home-made — that’s my esthetic — but in future I do want to concentrate on making more tree-like trees.

Well wouldn’t you know it — the used book store comes to the rescue!!

We got a donation that included this catalogue of all the best art and object sales in Christie’s showrooms for the year 1987 (and this is a shot of my work space because making book art is very messy). . .

. . . and I’m sure that we don’t have buyers for this book so perchance I opened it to check out the end papers to see if I should salvage them and OH MY GOD:

The universe must love me. I must be, like, one of its darlings. Don’t you always feel that way, when you take the time to count your blessings (and then use them as proof that you are indeed one way above-average and anointed being, or is that just me?).

Thank you, Great Spirit, for this 1987 record-breaking sale of original illustrations by Sir John Tenniel:

This Cheshire Cat is the right size, and it’s printed on nice heavy-card stock:

Here’s my new cat in the tree:

And that brings us to the end of this week’s installment of VivianWorld.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Count your blessings, Dear Readers, however small, because we are all beloved equally by a benevolent and beguiling universe.

XXOO

 

 

 

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I didn’t watch der Dumpster give the State of the Union address but I’ve been reading all about it:

Here are some other possible captions:

Rush this into movie production. I don’t even need to know the plot; I just know it stars Julianne Moore and I will see it five times in the theaters.

Sung to the tune of She’s Always a Woman To Me by Billy Joel:

She can kill with a clap, she can wound with her eyes
And she’s far from impressed with your Soviet ties
And she’d quite like to stab you and laugh as you bleed
She’s Madame Speaker and she’s Nancy the Great One to me

If this isn’t sign language for Fuck you, Asshole, it should be.

From Nancy Pelosi’s daughter: oh yes that clap took me back to the teen years. She knows. And she knows that you know. And frankly she’s disappointed that you thought this would work. But here’s a clap.

Remember how, right after the November elections, everyone thought Nancy Pelosi was too centrist and too Old Party Democrat to be an effective anti-Dumpster Speaker of the House? And now, ever since she manhandled der Dumpster into re-opening the federal government, suddenly everyone loves Nancy Pelosi.

Rock on. When I’m 78-years old, I want to be like her: The Head Bitch in Charge.

Back to the real news: I was sorting through old books at the used book store that I co-manage here on the north shore of Long Island and I realized that I have been a real dope all this past year.

I could kick myself for not having thought of this sooner. . .  all the books that I have to throw out (because they are cookbooks, which no one wants to buy anymore; or they are in terrible condition; or they are religious books, which don’t sell; or they are rejected for any number of reasons) all those books often have very nice free-end papers (see above) that are heavy stock and come in colors that are more subtle and interesting than what you can buy in any art supply store.

Jeeze. I could have been collecting some great free-end papers all this time.

This is what I got from one day of hauling out the trash:

Can you imagine how this will impact (yes, I use “impact” as a verb, so sue me) my book art? Because this is a legit way to get color into the stuff I build out of old crap books that no one wants.

Consider this Vivian’s Tip Of The Day For Making Your Life Better: Get the free-end papers before you throw.

Are you familiar with the J R R Tolkien fantasy novel called The Hobbit? All you have to know is that it’s set in a world where little people live in luxury hobbit-holes dug into the sides of hills and mountains, like this:

This is Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit from the upper classes of hobbits in The Shire, from the Peter Jackson movie trilogy Lord of the Rings (above and below).

Please note that winding uphill walkway that leads to the round front door. I will be cursing it shortly.

Because of course, this is what I decided to build out of books: Bag End.

I started out making a supporting structure in 2 pieces:

The top is just a dome that I made by criss-crossing strips that I cut out of a book that had nice medium-heavy pages. The bottom bit is a platform, of sorts, that I made out of a Triscuit (the delicious baked-wheat cracker snack) box. . . but after pondering how I was going to insert a winding uphill walkway into a box-like platform, I saw that there was no way I could achieve that in this set-up. So I ripped it apart and built another one out of one of those heavier free-end papers (white):

It was NOT EASY to make this supporting platform, because it had to be circular and curve around the dome, and leave me a recess into which I could insert that damn winding uphill walkway.

This (below) is how I stabilized the platform so it cold be free-standing, and also how I cut it down by half an inch because I made it too high:

I started to glue in strips of bond paper to make the platform slope into the dome . . .

. . . but I realized that I would have to complete the facade of the hobbit hole before I could add to the structure to make the slopes. I did not take photos of my construction of the facade because I am a dope and I was rather absorbed in seeing if this would work out — it was iffy — so here’s a photo of how I inserted that damn winding uphill walkway into the platform structure after I had finished making the facade:

Oh yes. This was as persnickety as it looks. This stairway of the winding uphill walkway took what seemed like hours to do, but was probably only 50 minutes. I had to fiddle with it because none of my first ideas worked — but combined with my second and third ideas with a last-minute fourth idea, I got a reasonable facsimile of a staircase.

Then I covered the treads and the risers of the staircase of the winding uphill walkway with text and other bits:

This is when Top Cat wandered in to my work room and looked over my shoulder and said, “Jeeze, honey, I don’t know…”

I understand that it looks terrible, but I’m not looking at this as a work-in-progress. I’m seeing it finished. That’s the only way I can carry on: Hope Against Hope.

I should tell you that I am using the BEST book for cutting out good green bits for grassy hills and such:

It’s the same paperback children’ book that I used for Farmer MacGregor’s vegetable garden. The only problem with this book is that the pages are thick (Top Cat knows paper and he could tell you how many microns thick it is, but he’s not here right now) and it takes a lot of finesse to drape this somewhat stiff paper over a dome. Be warned. But oh! The illustrations are so delicious!

It all came down to this, the last gap in the back of my hobbit hole:

The paper was too stiff to simply lay a strip over that gap to connect those two sloping ends. So I cut out this:

The notches in the form make the paper more bendy, and it also camouflages the “seams” on each side:

For the record, I am always this careful with the backsides of my builds. For instance, remember this?

This is what it looks like on the side that no one will see:

To finish off Bag End, I cut out some neat little details from my source book:

They covered up little gaps in the coverage and add interest, if you know what I mean. Visual interest to those who are examining this hobbit hole with a magnifying glass, which no one will, but I’m a double Capricorn with Virgo tendencies so I’m a little obsessive:

DONE:

Top Cat saw this and he said, Wow. I’m not sure it’s a WOW wow, but certainly it’s wowier than when he last time he saw it.

The original plan was for this hobbit hole to go in the foreground of this story, with the Wild Things:

But I forgot that Bag End has a tree that grows atop it, so that nixes that. I’m going to have to make a new story, and a new tree, for a stand-alone Bag End:

Did you hear that the East Coast, including us here on the north shore of Long Island, got a fine heat wave this week and temperatures soared to almost 70 degrees? It was life-affirming, and sun, and I couldn’t resist taking this photo —

The light in the forest. Nice.

Speaking of forests. . . it’s cloudy again, but still mild for Winter, and Taffy has often been missing in action. He has started to do day-long Walk Abouts, and you know how you always fret when your indoor/outdoor cats don’t show up for breakfast. So I had to go find Taffy the other day, and I had to trek through the small woods that separates my backyard from the neighbor’s. In Summer, this woods is so thick that I never even see their house, but in Winter it’s shockingly bare and Taffy doesn’t come when called so I had to venture out where the Wild Things are. Can you see Taffy in this photo (below)?:

He let me pick him up and carry him home. He’s a sweet cat. He’s a terrible brat, yes, but he’s sweet.

On warm days, Steve comes out of his heating-padded nest by the front stoop and sits on his favorite place on our front porch wall:

Dare I say it? We can’t wait for Spring. Which hits here in mid-May.

But wait, there’s more.

We got this in with a nice donation last week:

It was published in 1998. Remember how cute William was when he had all that blond hair? I don’t understand how he’s bald already, since his father has decent hair, and 97-year-old father’s father has respectable hair, and his mother’s father had plenty of hair, and his mother’s brother and nephew have loads of hair. How did he got the bald gene??

I have section in the used book store for British History, and a subsection of Royal Bios. I am surprised that we don’t sell out of our royal bios, because we have some good ones from Alfred the Great to, now, William. This People Magazine bio is available for $1.00.

And here’s the best picture from Prince William’s bio:

Even cat-people can love this. (That looks like his cousin, Lady Gabriella Windsor, behind him.)

Hounds, princes, hobbits, tips for better living. . . now you see why I only blog once a week. (Top Cat still says my posts are too long. Excuuuuse me for being so fascinating.)

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Truth is marching on.

 

 

 

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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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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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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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