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:
The old rabbit hutch in our backyard was Dennis’s first favorite place.
Summer was when Dennis was his most scenic:
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:
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!
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:
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:
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:
Of course I’m using the name of the chapter as decoration on the outer strap:
And this is the wonder of engineering that is the paper handle for my paper tea cup:
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:
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).