Book Art

 

I’ve told this story before here on this blog but I’ll tell it again because it’s one of my favorites.

Many years ago now, I met a guy at a party, a low-key party in someone’s backyard, not a punk rock/dancing on the bar kind party that I was partial to back then. . .

. . . and he was telling me how life used to stress him out like crazy, which he illustrated with a story about a cross-country road trip he took, from Seattle to New York City.

From the time he got Puget Sound in the rearview mirror until he crossed the George Washington Bridge five or six days later, he was constantly worried, freaked out, even, because ALL he could think about was, Where am I going to park when I get home to Manhattan ?

By the end of that road trip, he knew he had to make some changes in his life to reduce the monkey chatter in his brain. So he quit drinking and took up meditation. Not in that order. And he’s been much happier ever since.

Since then, whenever I find myself metaphorically fretting about where I’m going to park my car next week, I remember that guy, and I calm down and look up meditation classes in my area. I haven’t gone to one yet, because meditation sounds hard and I’m never far away from a strong V&T, which I call Meditation in a Glass.

I’m telling this story today because I came across something on the inter webs this week, a post about how much happier we would all be if we could just live in the “Now”.

If you want to get on my last nerve, tell me to live in the “Now”.

This is the kind of pseudo-pith that commonly gets accepted as wisdom, when actually the words only sound as if they mean something. Which, sure, they do, but only if you’re a college freshman and you’re smoking pot for the first time.

This “Now” of which we are supposed to venerate lasts, at most, for 12 seconds (that’s a scientific fact). So, are we supposed to live in 12-second intervals? How is that done, exactly? Give me the details of this “Now”-living, second by second, and proof of its superiority to the past and future, or else shut the fuck up.

Now, there are destructive ways of living in the future (see: driving from Seattle to New York, above), and there are terrible ways of living in the past (see: The Republican party, USA), but those are not the only two ways of looking forwards and backwards.

Furthermore, since most of our lives are in the past (every 12 seconds, you generate a new “past”), and most of our finest thoughts and feelings (hope, for one) live in the future, I think it’s far better to train your mind to handle the past and future so that you get the most pleasure and joy from them.

I say, treasure your past, because without it you lose your soul-self (see: Alzheimer’s); and create the beautiful futures that you want to work towards to make real. If you do that, I think the “Now” will take care of itself.

In other news, I installed my Haunted Bookshop at the local library:

It’s centered around a beat-up copy of Christopher Morely’s book by that title (ours was printed in 1923) that we got in as a donation to the used-book store that I manage here on the north shore of Long Island.

 

I sent a press release, of sorts, to the local newspaper about this display:

*****

Roslyn author Christopher Morley wrote The Haunted Bookshop in 1919 and the Bryant Library is offering a very early edition of the book for sale at its Roberta Balfus Bookstore, located in the historic Valentine House next door.

The Haunted Bookshop is part of a collection of over 30 books, each aged 100 years or more, which will go on sale on Tuesday, November 5.

The most notable book in this unusual collection is a book published in 1833 by J. & J. Harper, 82 Cliff Street, New-York, that comes from the personal library of Major General James Barnet Fry, the former Provost Marshal General of the Union Army during the Civil War who saw action at the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861 and at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862 (photo attached, from the Library of Congress, Matthew Brady photographer, c. 1861).

Currently, the books are on display at the Bryant Library as part of an installation called The Haunted Bookshop, on view until midnight, October 31.

*****

(I included some photos of the display, along with a totally fake story that I wrote about the book store that inspired the exhibit.)

*****

The totally fake ghost story of The Haunted Bookshop (the exhibit) is as follows:

Few people know that The Haunted Bookshop, written in 1919 by Roslyn author Christopher Morley, was based on a frightening experience the author had at the Valentine House while visiting it earlier that year.

Mr. Morley refused to discuss the incident in detail, saying only that, “There is something other-worldly, exceedingly inexplicable, in that house.”

He would never set foot inside the place for the remainder of his life.

The Roberta Balfus Book Store is located in the front parlor of the Valentine House, the very room where Mr. Morley’s faith in reason and appearances was shattered.

Rumor has it that there is a hidden dimension somewhere in this room, a “thin place” where time is diminished and reality is as sheer as tattered lace.

            A warning:  Stay far away from this thin place when its portal opens, once a century.

There is no way out when this fragile rift between worlds collapses in upon itself, without warning.

*****

A reporter from the local newspaper contacted me, and she came to interview me and look at the store and our old books for a feature that is scheduled to go to print in their October 11 paper. If it is online sooner, I’ll link to it. She took a lot of photos of the installation but none of me, which is disappointing because I was have an unusually good hair day.

Here’s some close-ups of the creepiness:

 

 

 

Last Sunday, September 29, was the start of the Jewish New Year so Top Cat and I combined our Fall Solstice outing with a New Year’s Eve chance to make some goals for the future.

Hello, Mr. Husky. Would you like a pizza-flavored Combo? No? Is blocking our view good enough for you?

We usually do not see another soul on this stretch of Long Island Sound, but on this evening there was an interesting photo shoot going on down on the beach.

 

 

 

They left before the sun had gone down  completely so we regained our exclusive use of the view. There’s a new graffiti on the porch where we sit:

And then it was suddenly Wednesday, and it was sunny and we got record-breaking 92 degrees, and then it was Thursday and it was 58 and rainy. I already forget how hot 92 degrees is, and I’m only OK about the 58 degrees because Fall jackets are my favorite kind of clothes.

P.S. to Dear Reader Sandra about last week’s photos of Jake Owen’s turquoise suit: Not only would I change may fashion sense for him, but I would also change my eye color and shoe size and left-handedness for him. . . if I were 30 years younger and had a shot.

Rickety handling the change in weather well:

Lickety at 92 degrees.

 

Lickety at 58 degrees.

Have a great weekend, everyone. Stay warm, or cool, depending, you know, on the situation.

The “Now” is terrible, but our bright and righteous hopes for the future will get us through, hour by hour, day by day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last June, for Pride Month, country singer Jake Owen googled gayest songs of all time, and he got . . . Cher. Specifically, he got her classic hit song from 1999 Believe.

He recorded a country version of Believe, writing on his website: “I believe #loveislove. Some of my closest friends and coworkers are part of the #lgbt community and I couldn’t be more happy for the progress they have made.”

 Watch: Jake Owen Marks Pride Month With Cover of Cher’s ‘Believe’

This is where me, a couple glasses of pinot grigio, and a few minutes of unsupervised activity come into play. I liked what I heard of Jake Owen’s cover so, one night shortly after cocktail hour, I went to my computer and I googled jake owen tour and bought a ticket to see him in concert Atlantic City in September.

P.S. : I am not a country music fan.

And then September rolled around, and Top Cat and I go to Atlantic City, and while he heads to the poker room at The Borgata,  I take my seat #16 in Row E at Ovation Hall in the Ocean Casino Resort. I have low expectations.

P.S.: Even though this took place in New Jersey, there are plenty of cowboy hats and boots in this Saturday night crowd. I am not a fan of country music fashions.

And then Jake Owen walks on stage. First of all, I thought Jake Owen looked like this:

Typical country singer. I don’t like the hair.

In fact, Jake Owens looks like this:

He is, in fact, gorgeous.

LOVE the hair. The turquoise suit with sequins is, I’m pretty sure, ironic.

And there I am, in the fifth row from the stage, dead center, and he is Right. There.

He does Believe half way through the two-hour show, and then he does a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Atlantic City,  and they are the only two songs that I know.

I must say, it was a delightful concert and at the end, after he’d done a few encores including a cover of Snoop Dogg’s absolutely filthy hit from 1998, Gin and Juice (Jake Owens said that it was his favorite song in high school. P. S.: I was 42 in 1998), the young couple next to me asked, “Did you like the show?”

I said, “Oh, yes! I think he’s fantastic!”

The guy, who looked as if he was born in 1998, asked me, “So, are you a Jake Owens fan?”

I said, “Not at all — I didn’t know any of his music until tonight.”

He and his girlfriend looked puzzled, and she asked me, “Then why did you get a ticket to the show?”

(When you are buying tickets for a party of one, it’s rather easy to get a good seat. There was one single place left in this primo row.)

To answer her question, I lied through my teeth and said, “I like to try new things.”

We all know that I never like to try new things. I like routine and no surprises and staying nice and cozy well within my comfort zone. But in this case I am very glad that I went to  a country music concert by myself on the last Saturday night of Summer 2019.  Hoo boy, I love country music. As long as it’s by Jake Owens.

Happily, because Top Cat and I are Booming through our sixties, we were home from Atlantic City by Sunday afternoon so we could sit in our backyard and sip wine on the Final Summer Evening, with a few of our favorite drinking buddies:

As I was taking this photo I noticed something on the grass by Taffy’s back foot!

The final Found Treasure of the Summer of 2019!

We did not expect that Lickety would make it all the way through the Summer of 2019 but lo, he’s still here, and we make sure he gets loved every single day.

And then it was Monday and we woke up to Fall, although it was 90 degrees here on the north shore of Long Island and so, so far, Fall has been non-traumatic.

Friday, September 28 is when I install my Haunted Bookshop at the Bryant Library, the first Halloween decoration of the season here on the north shore of Long Island, and today I am going to give you a preview of a few pieces:

 

I cut out a shadow box on the cover, on the left, but it does not photograph well. I tried to tell a story in the shadowbox, about fleeing a haunted grave site with a mysterious staircase…the other side is just a collage of weirdness. I wanted to leave the title, Tales of Edgar Allen Poe, visible but if I have time, I’m going to knife it up some more.

To tell the truth, “scary” is not what I like to do. I prefer “enigmatic“.

I like it when something looks as if it is about something, but that something is mis-translated, or coming in at an unknown frequency, or seems to shimmer between meaning something and meaning nothing. (Joseph Cornell’s boxes and Richard Diebenkorn’s abstract paintings do that for me.).

And then I got me some Mod Podge and I Mod Podged a Book Club edition of The Gulag Archipelago (1974, 704 pages):

Having Mod Podged the outer pages, the book was solid enough for me to excavate its guts to make a shadow box:

Building from the back of the shadow box, I started to add layers:

There are seven layers in this shadow box college, not counting the butterflies, which are on four layers of their own:

I wonder if there will be butterflies 50 years from now. If miracles happen, and the climate catastrophe is only half as bad as it is now inevitable, and butterflies and polar bears still co-exisit on our planet, we will have the first President of the World to thank:

Greta Thunberg is my hero. In 50 years, I hope she is in charge of everything, and I hope that the word “trump” will have become the common generic term for “what a loaf of crap” in every language on the planet.

As in, “Damn, I just stepped into some trump and ruined my new shoes.”

As in, “Something stinks in here — who forgot to take out the trump?’

As in, “I was so drunk last night that I trumped my pants.”

 

By now you are probably thinking to yourself, Yadda Yadda Yadda this is all about you, Vivian, but what has The Stromness Rock been up to?

Well, of all things, I almost crossed paths with The Stromness Rock because of all places, The Rock has been to New Jersey!

Dear Reader Carol took The Rock to see famous author Alice Hoffman at the Tom’s River branch of the Ocean County Library:

The Rock even got to ask Ms. Hoffman a question about its favorite book, The Marriage of Opposites!

The Rock was temporarily installed at this statue at the Ocean County Library:

The Rock knows a great PhotoOp when it sees it.

This is the one and only Jersey Shore (Long Beach Island):

If you know your Frankie Valli, you know Barnegat Beach. Here’s the Barnegat lighthouse:

If you can’t spot The Rock, scroll below.

Dedicated to lighthouse keepers everywhere:

And on to the Delaware River, where floats the world’s oldest and only in-tact square-rigged sailing vessel, the 1904 Moshulu. Having sailed around the world, the Moshulu is now a restaurant anchored at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia:

Sunset cruise with the Philadelphia skyline:

I do love a skyline.

But, saving the best for last:

Presenting Benjamin Bunny, in person.

Can’t you hear The Rock’s purr?

See how I did that? I arranged for us to end today’s meeting of the minds with a photo of Carol’s Benjamin Bunny (those pink ears!) so we can dwell, for a moment or two, out of this world and inside this heart-warming/mind-soothing image of purity and loveliness.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. The truth will set us free, no matter whatever trump the Republicans will throw at us.

XXOO

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The good news is that I have kidnapped my dear old Lickety and he no longer spends his days and nights sleeping in the driveway:

The even better news is that he has allowed me to put a heating pad under his blankie. . .

. . . so now we can all go about our business with happy hearts knowing that Lickety is warm and cozy in his favorite spot in the doorway of the dining room (near the kitchen, where he can keep tabs on all the action) and is not snoozing on the driveway asphalt. And we can put the car back where it belongs.

Speaking of good ideas, I was hunting through the inter webs a few weeks ago, looking at pictures of “scarey trees”. I found two that I liked, this one:

And this one:

What I liked even better was the idea of combining the two, making the bottom of the scarey tree into a scowling tree house, with the top having those cool towers with the illuminated windows.

So that’s what I did. I started with the fun bit, the scowling tree-face:

This (above) is just the scaffolding of the tree trunk and the roots and the front-door steps. I made a sturdy tube for the base of the tree and I cut out the eye-sockets. Within this tube, I inserted a smaller black tube, to give the eye-sockets their hollow and sinister emptiness.

Over this scaffolding (which I construct from old books that have nice study pages but are not attractive) I then glue strips of fine-print text from The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare (which has almost tissue-thin pages):

I made a front door from a book that had unusually large type, as a contrast to the fine print of the Shakespeare:

I made a roof for my scowling-eyed tree trunk and then I began to put up the scaffolding for the upper bits of the tree:

It seemed to me that the contrast of large type against the fine print was not enough to make the front door stand out, so I covered it with cross-hatching from an illustration I found in an very ugly children’s book from the ’70s:

Those towers with the illuminated windows were the most fun to make:

I collect children’s books for their illustrations, the drearier the better, so I can feel guilt-free about cutting them up. And once in a while one one of those old books will have just what I need; in this case, two large lattice windows and one small window:

This is a book that we got in as a donation to the used books store that I manage for the local library:

It’s a young adult novel called Friday’s Child by Jane Lambert. 1947. It was in execrable condition:

It’s far too scuzzy to put into the inventory of my book store, but it’s exactly right for my ghoulish bonsai:

I’ll be installing this bonsai at The Haunted Bookshop exhibit at the library on September 28. This, and several other ghoulish bonsai, will be displayed with the books that I have been culling from donations for the past year — the shabbiest and creepiest books that aren’t good for anything except for frightening little children with:

Last week I had finally achieved the impossible dream. I had cleared the used book store of all the crap, inside and out, and we had zero rubbish sitting in our Donations Corner. I had finally gotten ahead of the backlog of trash that this community dumps on our doorstep.

So I went back to my volunteer job of being a bookseller yesterday, and found, on my doorstep, seven boxes and three shopping bags of books, deposited during the past week, at night, in stealth. When I saw it, I uttered something much worse than the usual “Oh, shit.” I have to remember that the words Fuck fuck fuckitty fuck look about as good on a woman my age as a bikini.

Which reminds me, now is time for a short Florida digression.

I was on Florida’s Gulf coast last week to attend the First Annual Meeting of the North Fort Myers Judge Judy Fan Club. Meaning, I was visiting my mother and we both call it a day when Judge Judy comes on at 4, whereupon we mix a pitcher of martinis (we go old school: Beefeater’s gin) and watch Middle America go to hell, one hand basket/dog bite/eviction/unpaid loan small claims court case at a time.

Of course, Florida has been waaaaay ahead of the curve when it comes to the ever-lowering of the stupidity bar in America. Remember the hanging chads of 2000? In 2012 the comptroller for Miami-Dade got 30 months in prison for stealing more than $200,000 of the city’s mont after falling for an Nigerian internet scam. And last year, a 24-year old finished a job interview at Kohl’s department store in Central Florida and then walked into the shoe section and shoplifted two  pairs of sneakers. That’s almost as dumb as the guy from Ocala who, in 2013, submitted a job application at a gas station and then robbed it.

Last year, a Broward County woman in line at a Dollar General store pulled a knife on the customer in line behind her when that customer complained that she had farted too loudly. In Florida, you will be physically assaulted if you eat all of Kerry Knudsen’s Cheeze Its after he specifically told you not to, according to St. Augustine police.

And Florida is the land of the Capri pant.

I went to Florida expecting to rendez-vous with the 24-hour Walmart Superstore on Cleveland Avenue (Route 41). I’ve never been to a Walmart at 2AM and I’m having new experiences, and as there is not much to do in North Fort Myers ever, and as I knew I would be  sleeping poorly in a strange hotel room and would likely be wide awake at 2AM, I planned to capitalize on my insomnia by making an outing to the Walmart on Route 41.

But as 2AM rolled around, I thought about going out in the middle of the night in a town that I didn’t know all that well, alone, in Florida (where anything can go wrong and usually does); so I stayed in bed, reading a book called Reading the OED. Author Ammon Shea read every 21,730 pages of the Oxford English Dictionary and lived to tell the tale.

And that’s how I now know the word mataeotechny, (noun); an unprofitable or useless science or skill (see: making bonsai for ghouls as detailed earlier in this blog post).

So, I am sorry for not having photos of Walmart’s ungodly hours for you this week. But here’s some random People of Walmart pix:

 

 

Back to my woes as a used book store manager here on the North Shore of Long Island.

Much of the book donations that came in behind my back was the usual crap:

Including this, below, which made me think. . .

. . . Wait. Christian Ethics? There’s such a thing??

Because, you know. . .

If I had not seen it with my own eyes I would not have believed that there could be a book about such a thing as that, or this:

Yes: Christian Ethics and a catalogue of animal-headed covered dishes is what it takes to get me to compose a sentence fragment in the future conditional subjunctive tense, they are both that weird.

From now on, I will not say that I live on the shore of the Long Island Sound. Nope. From now on, I live on:

We got a bag full of these kinds of books, in pristine condition:

I’m keeping them. Our store has been lacking a Romance section and by gawd, now we have one.

And then there are the books that make working in the filth, sadness, and boredom of a used book store all worthwhile:

Published in 1953, this book seems to have once been the property of a boy with an unusual last name (from the 8th century German for Roger) who grew up to be a professor of music at MIT, just recently retired.

If I were a nice person, would I track this fella down and ask if he wants his book back? Am I being too Florida for wanting to keep it for myself?

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

Truth will out, and impeachments will happen.

All in good time, Dear Readers, all in good time.

XXOO

 

 

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I don’t much care for red wine. I especially don’t like the Saint-Emilion reds that Top Cat prefers, which are so dry that they are the liquid equivalent to Death Valley.

Top Cat, inspecting the vineyards at You Know Where.

Last week, a very persuasive wine merchant coaxed T.C. into buying something new — a Bordeaux from Saint Estephe, a whole other microclimate about 50 miles away from Saint-Emilion.

So last Friday, our date night, Top Cat opened his new bottle and drank a glass, and decided it was too whiny and not for him. So he left the bottle on the kitchen counter and opened one of his reliably arid Saint-Emilion reds.

Well. Who among us can let whiny wine go to waste?

Not moi.

So I took a sip and found that it was OK; an acceptably mid-bodied red that only needed some ice cubes to make it potable.

I like chilled white wine, even in the California desert.

So I loaded a glass with ice cubes and poured the Saint Estephe. I put a thoughtful look on my face as I pondered the beverage. It was still a bit too dusty for me. I pondered some more. And I knew what I could do to doctor this wine to 50% perfection.

I added a shot of ginger ale. And it was good. So that’s how I drank that Saint Estephe Bordeaux, over ice and mixed with ginger ale.

And that is why I am going to wine hell.

So September is upon us. I start my days in the dark now.

I’ve begun a list of things I have to do to prepare me and the cats for Winter. First thing, I have to mend the fleece cover to Steve’s outdoor heating pad for his nest by the front stoop.

I have started to move my Summer clothes to the back of the closet. I’ve dug up my notes for that book that I haven’t written yet, for my Winter project. I weigh myself.  I mope.

This is Day 41 of my diet to lose the eight pounds that I gained in 2018 and 2019. And today, at Day 41, I am eight pounds lighter and it feels right, and my jeans fit again and I’m pleased, but not happy. Because September.

Lickety is still hanging in there, which is a huge joy. Lickety and his support crew have taken to dozing in the driveway (see above), so we have to park the car on the street, because Lickety > 3,497 pound automobile.

I am typing this on Friday morning, and the skies are darkening an hour after sunrise because Hurricane Dorian is on his way to the Isle of Long, and  is going to pelt us with rain this afternoon.

I’ve made the usual disaster preparations and am as ready as Alabama to ride this storm out.

I’m excited to have a new Abigail Thomas memoir to read while I get hammered listen to the pitter patter of the September rain. I’ve read the first bits of What Comes Next and How To Like It so I know that this installment of her on-going autobiographical chronicle includes interludes that describe her art-making, which seems to be mooshing toxic oil-based house paint around on glass, which I am not particularly interested in, but she’s such a fluid and beguiling writer that I will forgive this conceit. But that explains why there are two smooshes of paint dabs on the cover.

If you want to see more of her art, click here.

As another writer who makes art, I have been busy this past month making figments of imagination from a haunted book shop for my October installation at our local library. I showed you already one of the first items I made, one of five botanically-inspired structures that I call Bonsai for Ghouls:

This was not the finished piece. I wanted it to make it ooze out of the book more, as if it were growing from the book, not on the book:

In future blog posts you will see more of The Making of Bonsai for Ghouls, a how-to and a what-the-hell-for for those of you who enjoy that kind of thing.

But for today I have a special treat for you!

The Stromness Rock . . .

. . . is on a coast-to-coast tour of America and today, thanks to Dear Reader Gali, the Rock is off to a stupendous start!

Here’s the Rock admiring the reflection of Mt. Monroe (in the Northern Presidential Range) in the great state of New Hampshire:

I did not know that New Hampshire looked an awful lot like the highlands of Scotland, but here’s the rest of the Presidential Range to prove it (from left to right: Mt. Clay, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Madison):

Cog railway on the way to Mt. Washington, NH:

Lucky Rock,  here at the Lakes of the Clouds Hut near Mt. Washington:

And then the Rock kayaked on the Charles River and got its picture taken with the skyline of Boston (MA):

The FreedomTrail is a 2.5 mile walk though downtown Boston that passes 16 locations, from Boston Common to Bunker Hill, that were significant in the creation of the United States:

A night out on the town:

Tanks, Gali, for getting a Boston taxi AND the Old State House in one beautiful twilight shot!:

The Rock then went to Battle’Green in Lexington, MA, where the first shot of the Revolutionary War was fired, on April 4, 1775 — The Shot Heard “Round The World:

This is so cool:

Paying respects to the Minutemen, an elite sub-group of the Lexington Militia, depicted in this statue unveiled in 1900 on the 125th anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord:

And at the First Parish church in Lexington:

The First Parish in Lexington was founded in 1682 when the 30 families then living in Cambridge Farms (the area now known as Lexington) petitioned the Great and General Court of Massachusetts to be allowed to establish their own parish.  The church now has a Unitarian Universalsim mission.

This church is so liberal (and that’s a great thing!) that I’m pretty sure that if that dog wanted to hold a bar mitzvah there, the congregation would be all for it.

The Rock is now on its way to New Jersey, (thanks, Carol!) and I won’t make a joke about its getting big hair and a tan down the shore. Thence to Jeanie, Angel, Susie, Alexandra, and Marilyn.

Now that we have Texas on the itinerary (thank you, Rachel), I can send out the second half of The Stromness Rock Welcome Kits to Thea, Leslie, and Maryanne. I wish I could send you all a Thank You bottle of pinot grigio, but there’s a storm coming’ and I am in dire need of all my provisions.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Hunker down, wherever you are, and hold tight. Only 502 more days of this shit:

If we couldn’t laugh, we’d cry.

Well, we’ll still cry, but in between sobbing we might crack a smile or two.

 

 

 

 

 

See you next week.

XXOO

 

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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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