September 2018

***Just to let you know: I posted this waaaaay early on Friday morning, and it did not “go live” , that is, appear on your tab/computer screen where it was SUPPOSED TO, and  a lot of you Dear Readers wondered if I had abandoned you here on the Interwebs, and it took a lot of phone calls and a fair amount of cussin’ at film flam internet providers to get this post published on line. I’m sorry for the delay. Thank you all you Dear Readers who wondered if I had died. I hope you will all speak at my funeral, details to follow when the time comes.

But, Hell No,  I refuse to die as long as there is a breath in me to Resist.

Without further ado, here is my Friday post:

The magazine of the Jesuit religious order in the United States has publicly withdrawn its endorsement of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court justice following testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Jesuit-educated Kavanaugh and the woman accusing him of sexually assaulting her decades ago.

“For the good of the country and the future credibility of the Supreme Court in a world that is finally learning to take reports of harassment, assault and abuse seriously, it is time to find a nominee whose confirmation will not repudiate that lesson,” the editors wrote.

Brett Kavanugh, proud alum of the Jesuit high school, Georgetown Perp Prep: Kavanaugh included “Renate Alumnius” as an entry in his high school yearbook page, and two of Kavanaugh’s classmates told the New York Times the mentions of “Renate” were part of the high school football players’ unsubstantiated boasting about their conquests.

The word “Renate” appears at least 14 times in Georgetown Preparatory School’s 1983 yearbook, the newspaper reports, including in the caption of a group photo of nine football players that includes Kavanaugh and Mark Judge.  In the photo caption, the group of student athletes are described as the “Renate Alumni.”

Renate Schroeder Dolphin attended a nearby Catholic girls’ school, and wasn’t aware of the “Renate” yearbook references about herself on the pages of Kavanaugh and his football teammates.

Fun Fact: Reante Dolphin is one of the 65 women who signed a September 14, 2018 letter of support for Kavanaugh after Christine Blasey Ford came forward with her allegation of sexual assault from when they were in high school.

A few days after signing that letter, Ms. Dolphin said in a statement to the Times:  “I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago. I don’t know what ‘Renate Alumnus’ actually means. I can’t begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way. ”

Sept. 28, 2018:

The American Bar Association has urged the Senate Judiciary Committee and the full Senate to slow down on the vote on Brett Kavanaugh for a position on the Supreme Court until the FBI has time to do a full background check on claims of sexual assault made by Christine Blasey Ford and other women.

“We make this request because of the ABA’s respect for the rule of law and due process under law,” the ABA letter to committee leadership said. “Each appointment to our nation’s highest court (as with all others) is simply too important to rush to a vote.”

Look at the faces of all the women sitting behind him. And these are the women who like him…maybe these are the only women in America who like him.
That face you get when you’re Brett Kavanugh and you know your Time’s Up.
But let’s not despair, Dear Readers. In this time of vicious partisan divide, Donald Trump Junior can unite us. Yes! It’s true!!
DJTJ has been mocking Dr. Ford on his Twitter account, and this is the response from a Republican congressman from Illinois:
Yes, congressman, we can all agree that DJTJ. . .
 . . .  is a “dull witted kanker sore who shoots baby hippos out of his daddy’s helicopter because that’s the only way he can get an erection. Do us a favor, put the Twitter aside, go rub a tub of Axe extra hold hair gel on your empty head you chinless son of a circus peanut.”*
*Jimmy Kimmel, Sept. 27, 2018
We can all be united about that, right?
If we don’t laugh, we’ll cry.
And now, to bring down our blood pressure, here’s brothers Lickety and Taffy:
In case you can’t see, Taffy is using Lickety’s head as a chin-rest:
And on these first cool days of Fall, the bros all gather in the grass clippings in the way back:
Have as good a weekend as you can, Dear Readers. Let’s drown our tears in our votes.
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I am getting emails from Dear Readers today (Friday, Sept. 28) wondering if I have suddenly retired from blogging.

It seems that many of you are not getting my most recent blog post, and are instead still stuck on this old one from last week.

I am trying to fix it. And by “trying to fix it”, I mean I am pouring myself a big stinking vodka tonic and wishing that life wasn’t so hard. It’s been a tough week.

In fact, the title of this week’s blog post is: Jesus, What a Week.

Spoiler Alert: This week’s blog is also tagged “I Want to Punch Brett Kavanaugh in his Pie Hole.

Please keep trying. I hope to figure out how to get us back to regularly scheduled programming real soon.

XXOO

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So I was in California last week, the cute little town of Calabasas, to be exact. I went to the Calabasas Film Festival. I saw Colette.

I did not like it. If you go, I will tell you that it is a very pretty film to look at, but turn your ears off. The dialogue is excruciating. It’s 65% expository (that is, the characters narrate their inner lives so that watching the movie feels like watching a term paper, and a high school term paper at that) and as the movie is mostly about Colette’s sex life and not her life as an artist, there was a lot of chatter about sex and very little chit chat about writing good sentences. I was bored.

I have zero curiosity about what people do in the privacy of their bedroom or the hayloft or the 6th arrondissement in Paris. I do not know why people make movies, or want to watch movies, about something as mundane as sexual awakenings.

Oh. Wait. Yes I do.

This is a real book, and the name of the woman character that you see on the cover is Vivian Swift. For reals.

Sex sells. To people who have no imagination. . . or so I’m guessing. But I’m a Capricorn. The most interesting part of Colette for me was when her husband, a writer and editor, reads Colette’s first attempt at fiction and tells her that it is full of beautiful descriptions but won’t sell because it has no plot. I like this scene because I am starting my writing workshops here on the north shore of Long Island next week and I am gearing up to help people know who they are as writers, and being able to pinpoint writing blind spots is a crucial part of being a good workshop leader.

The thing about travel is that you never know where your next cup of tea is coming from. The first night of the Calabasas Film Festival, for example, I had two glasses of white wine and a big box of Junior Mints for dinner because I could not partake of the official menu of fishy stuff and avocado stuff, because I don’t like the taste of anything with a fin and the idea of eating green mush is revolting. So I scavenged what I could at the movie theater and ended up dining on my favorite forms of sugar.

Now that I’m back here on the East Coast, it’s taken me four full days to get back into the swing of things (because I made the mistake of catching up with the news and it’s been a tremendously big shit storm out there, tremendously big and wet, from the standpoint of the verbal diarrhea spewing from der Drumpf’s pie hole).

So I did not attempt to build a 10th castle this week. But I did go to the used book store to sort the recent donations so, just for you, here is the Most Boring Book of the Week straight from the Bryant Library Used Book Store:

When people talk to me about donating books I always make sure to tell them that we do not accept college text books. I think the title of this book explains why. Even if we price this at 50 cents nobody is going to buy this thing.

And worse yet, college text books are hideous both on the outside and on the inside:

I feel sorry for the student who had to read this book for her Spanish Literature class but why should she inflict her pain on us?

I looked up this book, which is a small (6 inches by 9 inches, 108 pages) book that is still for sale to liberal arts majors in America. It costs $47.50. Yes. this little book costs almost fifty dollars. (My books are twice as long and cost half as much.)

So that’s why the person who donated this book. She couldn’t bear to just throw away  $47.50. It’s a lot to spend on a book that you will only read once in your life. But hey. Nobody asked her to waste her life by highlighting the progress of textual culture, in all its forms, in no way lessened the importance granted in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries to two other mediums of knowledge, memory, and persuasion: that is, the image and the oral discourse.

In other words, book publishing did not make painting and talking obsolete.

Like, duh.

Cat news: While I was away, Candy moved out of my shower, finally. She now inhabits the upstairs hallway. Yay. I get my bathroom back, but I now have litter boxes and a napping cat that I have to step over every time I to-and-fro.

My 18-year old cat, Coco, is looking really bad so I am taking her to the vet this afternoon.

Next week I will have a castle to show you, one that I hope will be a show stopper.

Until next Friday, Dear Readers, have a great weekend. There’s a new, more evil hurricane of Republican bullshit heading our way and we all need to keep calm and flip congress in November.

 

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It was so very hot here on the north shore of Long Island last week that we all, humans and super-cats alike, had to conserve our energy lest we budge an inch and over-heat ourselves:

So, looking to keep myself as cat-like and cool as possible, whenI saw these itty bitty books for sale at the Friends of the Bryant Library used book store I knew that I had found the perfect hot weather challenge (just the right size for minimal exertion):

The books are all titled Flower Fairies, in yellow, lilac, green, and pink.

Miniature books are irresistible, don’t you think? I’ve never done this before, but I found a figure that I wanted to keep intact so I used my scalpel to extract the Lesser Celandine fairy:

And then I set to making some plant-like objects by cutting shapes out of cardboard and wrapping them in strips of text:

For the record, the Lesser Celandine is a real flower. It is native to Europe, Asia, and Northern Africa and it abounds in the US as a wildflower, probably escaped from someone’s exotic garden. It is considered an invasive in New York State! To me, it is a very ordinary flower, nothing to get excited about, and it looks like this:

Illustration: Duna-Ipoly Nemzeti Park Igazgatosag, Hungary, at Dinpi.hu

 

OK, I cheated. I printed out this botanical illustration in black and white so I could use the leaves.

I discovered that it’s tricky to glue a leaf onto a stem (because, gravity) so I had to make this little booster to hold the leaf in place while the glue dried:

I got two more leaves in place so I could settle the fairy’s castle into place:

As you can see (above), the fairy’s castle is round. To make this castle I’m cutting up an old Horizon magazine from 1959, specifically a harmless article about the city of Vienna… or so I thought until I was making one of the elements that goes atop that crenellated roof:

Danger lurks in every word… you can’t have Hitler appearing on a fairy castle! So I had to cover up this obscenity:

And then it was hot and I was too fiddly to take more photos so let’s skip ahead a few steps and without further ado, here is the Castle of the Lesser Celandine Fairy:

Click onto photo to enlarge.

It’s very cloudy and misty here today on the north shore of Long Island as we are currently soaking up the remnants of Tropical storm Gordon that hit the Gulf of Mexico a week ago, and it’s so dark in the house that I can’t get a good photo so I had to take the castle outside to the den patio (on a dinner plate).

Yeah, I cheated and printed out some butterflies for extraneous embellishment.

Now, fairy castles are not my thing. I am only making any of these castles for a show in December, when I will display my book art at the Bryant Library to show off the many uses of the used books for sale at the Friends of the Bryant Library used book store, and cause a stampede that will see customers throwing money at us to buy out the inventory so we can raise thousands of dollars for the good work of the Friends of the Bryant Library.

I wanted to do this miniature castle for variety, to make the show like a box of chocolates. The flavor of this one is treacle.

But getting back to the heat wave we experienced last week here on the north shore of Long Island, let me tell you that it was brutal. I live in a 100-year old house that does not have air conditioning, and three days of 90-plus degree heat with 80 per cent humidity was almost more than I could bear.

One thing I did to beat the heat was hang out at the Bryant Library. Because I work at the Friends of the Bryant Library used book store a few days a week, I actually don’t spend much time at the library itself. But I took advantage of the taxpayer-funded air conditioning at the library and settled down one afternoon in the Periodicals section and caught up with the news from France by reading the latest Paris Match magazine.

And that’s how I learned that the leader of the French Green Party is a very nice guy who loves his cat:

Seriously. The article was all about how Yannick Jadot, an ecologist as well as a politician, loves his cat, Minouche (approximately “Kitty” in French). M. Jabot told stores about how Minouche likes to have her belly rubbed only by him, even though it was his kids who brought the cat home seven years ago (when Yannick says he got a instant crush on Minouche). Minouche walks all over his computer keyboard, sits with him every evening, and his kids complain that when he comes home from a business trip he runs to say Hi to the cat before he talks to them.

In other words, the usual Cat Person stuff.

That guy has my vote.

Temperatures have cooled off since last week and Candy is still hunkered down in my bathroom:

This photo represents progress in that she is no longer sleeping in her litter box and has allowed me to make her life more comfortable with nice soft bedding, and the anti-histamine that I give her once a day seems to have helped make her rash less bothersome. But she still refuses to budge from my bathroom so I may have to do something drastic (knock out pills?) to get her to a vet so we can cure her once and for all and I can stop using my husband’s bathroom because happily married people should not share bathrooms.

Hurricane Florence is heading towards one of my favorite places on Earth, the town of Oriental, North Carolina. Our friends told us that they took a long last look at their beloved coastal town and evacuated to Raleigh, not knowing if they would ever see their house again. This storm is huge and slow-moving, and the forecast is dire. Let’s hope for a thousand small miracles, and that everyone is prepared to get through this.

I am heading out to California for the weekend, while Top Cat stays home and rides herd on the herd.

Have a great weekend, everyone, and I’ll see you back here next Friday with my final castle.

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Taffy is literally beside himself with excitement about this week’s blog post:

Ha ha. For the record, those are two separate cats. You know that’s Taffy on our patio chair with his back to you, and that’s our neighbor’s cat, Dennis, giving you the hairy eyeball. And they are both simply livid with excitement about today’s blog post!!!

Thanks to Dear Reader Alex, who alerted me to the existence of this book, I have a great new [to me] resource for  my latest obsession:

This (below) is not the prettiest castle in the book, but it’s got that certain something that makes me want to build it. Namely,  it’s got that twisty, winding path that climbs up a rocky cliff:

Twisty, winding path. I want to do that.

First, I made some sketches to figure out how I could make those rocky shapes and castle bits:

Speaking of rocks. On my kitchen table, where I tend to dump my various tote bags, I have two rocks: a Himalayan Rock Salt lamp and a smaller rock that I keep around because it looks like a potato:

You’ll notice that Lickety has the whole kitchen table to himself but he chooses to wedge himself in a hard place between a rock and another rock in order to nap on top of my lumpy black tote bag:

Same nap, different day — and yes, Lickety is using my potato-rock as a pillow:

*Sigh* Other people have gifted and talented cats. Mine just have good looks.

But back to the rocky cliff and the twisty, winding path:

All I did was cut out a path on light-weight cardboard using a pattern (there, in white bond [typing] paper) and then I glued little “pillars” of graduated heights underneath it:

Then I glued the pillars onto a sturdy base, and let the heights of the pillars do the dirty work of raising the height of the pathway:

Dear Reader Birdie asked me, last week, Who taught you to make castles? Nobody did, Birdie — I just sat down and figured it out myself, which is about 75% of the fun of this whole process: figuring how to make it possible. It took me a long, hard think to work out how to make this path, and I got a great deal of satisfaction in making it in real life just to prove that my thinking was right. When it works out it’s a real thrill.

So now I have my underlying structure. Now is when I cut out the book pages to cover up the path:

And then I enclose the entire path and pillars in more book pages, to make what I call the Form for the Twisty Winding Path. It looks simple, but thinking about and making this structure took all day:

Here’s the other thing that I accomplished on my first day of Building Castle No. 8:

As I work on these castles, I keep losing my two most important tools — my circle-making thingy (called a template, in green) and my big bluey ruler with the right-angle edge — they get lost under the pile of mess that this castle-making hobby produces in mucho quantities. So I simply hammered a nail into the front edge of my work table, where I hang these two tools and will never lose them again.

I can’t tell you how happy this makes me, to have my tools so handy.

OK, having made the Form for the Twisty, Winding Path, I was pretty much gratified that I had conquered the hardest part of this particular castle. But I still had to go make the rest of the castle to justify the twisty, winding path. This next photo isn’t very explicative, but it serves to show you how I built the rest of the castle around that weird, centerpiece  Form I made for the twisty, winding path:

After three days, I was almost finished with this castle with the twisty, winding path and its bridge to another book (as theorized in last week’s blog post) but it was very ugly:

The bridge goes off at a gruesome angle due to my not thinking out the consequences of where I situated the castle on its book-base.

It does not make me happy to make an ugly castle. Although I made a darling little half-moon bridge (dedicated to Dear Reader Carol, who was very much looking forward to a cute bridge) with a cool-looking tower for the twisty, winding path, things fell apart when I assembled it all together. As an appendage, it was very awkward and ugly. I was very sad.

I actually had a bad night’s sleep over this. So  had no choice but to wake up the next morning and cut off the cute little half-moon bridge:

I couldn’t leave that twisty, winding path hanging out there as a dead-end. So here’s what I did to resolve my Ugly Castle Problem: I made another twisty, winding path that jigged to the right, where it terminated at a cute little tower glued into the corner of the book:

It doesn’t photograph well, but here’s maybe a better look at it:

No? Not better? Maybe this will show how I made a less ugly twisty, winding path for this castle:

Yeah, that’s probably the last time I carve into a book like that. It took forever. . . like, ten hours over two days . . .  and I really have to find a more joyous way to spend my ever-dwindling allotment of the time I have left in which I live and breathe and could be drinking martinis instead. Sitting in my dining room with two different kinds of scissors, hacking through 800 pages of Japan’s Imperial Conspiracy is not my idea of fun. I mean, I might get hit by a car tomorrow, and this is how I spent my last day on Earth??

Dear Reader Marilyn asked me, last week, whether I could find some kind of electric tool to use instead of using up my mortality by hand-cutting with scissors. I looked into that, Marilyn, by researching the work of book artists who carve deeply into their books. The most famous book-carver is a guy called Guy Laramee, you should google him, and he uses — wait for it — a sandblaster.

Other book-carvers use scalpels or exacto-knives. I think their carving looks too rough, for my purposes, and it looks equally as boring as using scissors. I think I’ll just limit my carving time by making less ambitious landscapes, or by learning how to scissor while loaded.

Castle Naming: Dear Reader Casey suggested Whimsy Towers for last week’s castle. I like it. Way back, a book reviewer wrote that the writing and illustrations in my first two books “are charming and whimsical, but can come very close to twee.” I was not insulted, and I did a whole blog post about it — in short, twee is a Britishism for appallingly cute. I work on the edge of twee. No brag, just fact.

And I am the first to tell you that these castles are all about twee, so Whimsy Towers is a perfect name. Because, by the way, people who like my work frequently call me whimsical, which is a surprise to me since in real life I am short-tempered, foul-mouthed, and opinionated. I eat whimsical for breakfast, as a sprinkle topping on the bloody beating hearts that I have ripped out of the chests of my enemies. But I make castles!

Thanks to Dear Reader Mae’s Comment last week, I now have a whole list of literary castles to inspire me to name my other castles with something that hints of mystery, portent, and whimsy. I hope to be free-associating soon, with a glass of ice cold inspiration if you know what I mean.

Or maybe I’ll just be celebrating a most excellent news cycle!

The Resistance has had a good week. Between Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear, and that Anonymously agitating (but, in its own way, hilarious) New York Times op-ed about the moles working inside the White House, we have der Drumpf  lit up like something hideous that lights up a frothing, unhinged shade of orange when things are getting too close to the truth in Crazytown (I suck at similes).

Let’s have fun and watch as der Drumpf goes even more insane trying to tamp down this opening of the floodgates leak. Now that it’s a matter of national security, let’s watch as he threatens to bomb the New York times, sue Woodward for libel, declare a Code Red because YOU NEED ME ON THAT WALL, that’s where I had them, they laughed at me and made jokes, but I’ll prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, with geometric logic, that I KNOW WHO TOOK THE MISSING STRAWBERRIES.

Oh, this is going to be so good.

So let’s sit back and watch this unravel.

And to Dear Reader Margot, who hopes for a Blue Tsunami, I’m saying that this public meltdown will prove to be the cause of the mutiny that produces a Purple Tidal Wave in November.

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones.

Here’s the most recent precious Blue Jay feather that I have found in the Summer of ’18.

OK. Maybe I am a little bit whimsical.

 

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