Bring On The Dancing Horses, Wherever They May Roam.

Leading with the cat story: You might recognize Mr. Fluffy (above), a cat I found in my backyard at the end of last Winter who now lives with his wonderful forever family in Washington, D.C. Well, this week I had to go to see my doctor, about getting that brain transplant I’ve always wanted (cross your fingers for a donor who thinks up smutty zombie novels so I can sell a million books and retire to a chateau in France), and as part of the pre-surgery evaluation I had to have my blood pressure taken. I like to impress people with my Zen-like blood pressure, because it’s so much easier than impressing people by actually doing something worthwhile out in the world.

So there I was, having this yearly physical while wearing a skimpy hospital gown in a freezing examination room, facing a horrifying drawing of blood at the end point of this doctor/patient tete-a-tete, and I had to get Zen ASAP. So I conjured up the most relaxing, happy image I have stored in my [current, soon-to-be-excised] brain. I envisioned, in detail, what it’s like to hold the darling Mr. Fluffy; the way he drops his head onto your shoulder, and wraps his floofy tail around your wrist, the way he purrs, and how you never want to let go of that big warm furry hunk of cattitude.

“118 over 80”, the doctor said. “Excellent!”

I love that cat.

Are you as excited as I am about the big holiday coming up this Saturday, October 14???  Me too!!!

October 14, 2017 will be the 951st anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, in which the French nobleman, William, Duke of Normandy, invaded England in 1066 and defeated the last Anglo-Saxon monarch, Harold II, bringing language and a class system and order to the island kingdom, yadda yadda yadda.

Most importantly, this grand event (called The Norman Conquest) produced the world’s most extraordinary work of art: The Bayeux Tapestry. This is the work of art that I made sure to include in my first illustrated travel memoir, When Wanderers Cease to Roam,  because I was not sure if the fates would permit me to publish a second book and I had to get it on record that if the planet is ever on the brink of doom and we have to choose the  one single artifact of our civilization to shoot up in a rocket in the hope that alien life will find it and understand what a fine species we humans used to be, it has to be The Bayeux Tapestry.

See: When Wanderers Cease to Roam, pages 154 and 155, for those of you reading along.

From When Wanderers Cease to Roam, in the chapter called: October is the Coyote Month.

I have loved the Tapestry since I discovered it when I was 10 years old and read about it in the August 1966 issue of The National Geographic. (I still have that copy, now a highly sought-after ephemera valued at $5.00, worth reading if only for the description of the old lace museum that used to house the Tapestry before it was installed in its current glitzy edifice, if you care about those things which most people don’t.)

I have been to Bayeux many times, and brought all my fiances that I didn’t marry and both my husbands to Bayeux to see this Tapestry, because Love Me, Love The Bayeux Tapestry is my No. 1 Rule of Life.

I have been inspired by the Tapestry because it has the impertinence to call itself a tapestry when it’s actually an embroidery  and because of the horses. I’m not a horsey gal, but I like the horses of Bayeux and have sewn my own versions of them many times (see tea bag for size ref):

I can show you ten more pieces like this, with horses running in the opposite direction too, but you get the drift.

And recently, due to the lack of my being able to think up some killer zombie novel with a strong female lead that will sell to Hollywood or HBO, I’ve been keeping myself busy by painting in acrylic, what else, the horses of Hastings (see tea bag for size ref):

Work In Progress. It needs more horses, and a few zombies.

To celebrate the 951st anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, I have bought the perfect present for the most recent husband who went to Bayeux with me:

This is a package of milk chocolate malt balls from England,  Artisan du Chocolate.

Top Cat does not like milk chocolate malt balls even though these are very nice in that they have an extra-thick coating of chocolate. So I will give this package to him empty, and he will love it.

You see, Top Cat is a package designer and printer and he loves good examples of extraordinary design.

This package is made from one single piece of paper. It is scored and folded in a very complicated way to make this geometric sphere made of triangular and square faces which I wish I knew the name of. It is really good packaging. It is the Queen of boxes.

If you were captivated by my un-boxing demonstration in last Wednesday’s blog post, you will find this next picture fascinating:

I have just un-boxed air, which is a first in the annals of un-boxing.

In 2014 there was a woman who made $4.9 MILLION dollars by recording herself un-boxing Disney toys and then uploading the videos to YouTube.

I would never have thought of hitting it rich by un-boxing Disney toys. I really need a new brain.

Here’s your Friday dose of Lickety:

He’s still napping in strange, new places. He hs never gone onto the kitchen table before and right after I snapped this pic, he redecorated by shoving all those books (behind him) onto the floor.

Have a great 951st anniversary of the Battle of Hastings everyone.

21 Comments, RSS

  1. Kirra

    Happy 951st anniversary! Thanks for sharing the photos of the lovely cats and your wonderful versions of the Bayeux Tapestry. I do enjoy your writing about it in When Wanderers Cease to Roam, and it’s on my list of places to visit in France. That packaging is very impressive, even without the chocolates – enjoy Top Cat!

    • Vivian

      You will love Bayeux. Especially in the late afternoon, when all the day trippers from Paris and England have gone and the village is itself again, quiet and haunted by so much history. I wanted to get married in Bayeux but when the time came it couldn’t happen, first because of visa restrictions and secondly because the other kind of wedding I always wanted was in Las Vegas at midnight and Las Vegas and I had the perfect Las Vegas wedding gown (vintage little black cocktail dress).

  2. Casey

    So I take it that you were on the side of the French in 1066? I saw your hat on Lickety’s table, a give away as to where your loyalties lie. About the books that started out on the top of the table but ended up on the floor, maybe Lickety had to check whether the gravity was still working.

    Are you becoming a fine artist? is this your new direction? I like the horses of Hastings painting because I like the colors and the sense of flight.

    I will celebrate Battle of Hastings Day by rereading WWCTR and shoving things off my kitchen table.

    • Vivian

      That’s a New Orleans Saint’s hat on the table. WHO DAT.

      Thank you for saying nice things about the painted horses. I have time on my hands so I thought I’d try to paint something different. I think I still prefer watercolor.

  3. Your horses are wonderful. The box extremely fascinating. Oh I wish I didn’t get behind on reading your book, but I think I am in August. Now I must get caught up. And where did I put the scratchy, kitty thing the cat is laying on, I use to have one just like that.

    • Vivian

      It’s more than OK to read the October chapter in August, or the August chapter in January. You can also read it back to front — sometimes you want to go back in time, some times you want to remember a heat wave in the middle of Winter.

  4. I love your stitched horses and your painted horses (and, of course, the horses of the Bayeux Tapestry. They remind me of the zebras on the wallpaper that used to hang in Gino’s in the Upper East Side, which closed when the rent went from $8K to $30K. But, when I googled the wallpaper pattern, I saw that the zebras are much more (awkwardly) upright and that the aforementioned horses all appear to be fluidly in motion. They are less paunchy than “cave art” horses…more like a horse Marc Chagall might have created in stained glass or a contemporary Native American artist might have painted. What I am trying to say is that your horses seem familiar and graceful. I really, really like them. But then, I was a horsey gal (until one day I realized I was the only one in the family riding…and feeding…and mucking out after the little herd of herbivores).

    • Vivian

      Aren’t zebras AWESOME?? Proves that once in a while Nature gets giddy with her own self.I wanted to see that wallpaper so I googled “Ginos manhattan zebra wallpaper” and lo, there it is on the inter webs. Fantastic. But I see what you mean: those zebras are prancing, while the Hastings horses are running and leaping. Thank you for saying nice things about them!

  5. We have an amazing coffee table book in the library of the entire Bayeux Tapestry — you’ve probably seen it, or one like it. You might even OWN it. Anyway, it’s amazing. I’ve never seen the tapestry itself. I’ve also never been to Hastings, which I keep thinking I will visit someday, though from what I hear it’s a rather hardscrabble coastal town these days.

    Love your embroidered horses! And yes, that is an intriguing box — though the whole concept of “unboxing” videos I SO do not get.

    • Vivian

      I have a complete Bayeux Tapestry that I bought in Bayeux about 30 years ago, and several big art history books on the work as well. Scholarship on the origin of the Tapestry has changed greatly since 1966, since it’s now thought that the sewing was done in England, not France. And no one ever believed that Queen Matilda worked on it, but now it’s thought that it was sewn by men, with a subtle anti-French message coded into several scenes. Well, it gives Tapestry junkies something to chatter about, any way.

      Hastings and Battle are close to each other, and they are worth seeing only if you are a Tapestry “completist”. Bayeux is 100% charming, though, and so close to many other historic sights on the Normandy coast. And because they get so many British visitors there, Bayeux know how to make a great cup of tea for when you use want to sit and contemplate the past one thousand years.

  6. Becky

    After reading your post I had to go back to The October chapter inWhen Wanderers Cease to Roam and read again about the coyote month. I enjoyed the section on the Bayeux Tapestry. Isn’t it amazing how something can touch your soul in that way. I also loved the informative pages on the quinces, The gorgeous fall paintings and “meet my France”. Coyote summer expresses exactly how fall seems to me these days.
    Loved the kitty pictures. Maybe Lickety had already read those books and was bored with them. My kitty story to share ….a local cafe here has 2 resident cats that stroll in and out among the patrons. The one in particular, could be Mr Fluffy’s twin…only it’s a girl, has found my lap to be to her liking as I eat. When it is time to leave I really hate to disturb her.

    • Vivian

      Thank you Becky for that nice October review! I love the idea of Coyote Summer, which is also what we’ve been enjoying here on Long Island. No sweater weather yet!

    • Vivian

      No need to worry, dear Felicia. Just the annual check up, and I got the All Clear to maintain all my bad habits (includes cheese enchiladas and vodka cocktails as long as the liver looks OK and the cholesterol stays low).

  7. Hooray for the Battle of Hasting! – and cats
    William. the Conquerer’s son – William Rufus – was shot in the New (sic) Forest by Sir Walter Tyrell.
    Sir Walter was then exiled 20 miles from London to build a house that was later lived in by a friend of mine.
    Thus I am a direct heir to history – or something.
    See my little children’s book Jane and the Essex Serpent.

  8. I sure need to catch up with you. Please send Zen cat. Sometimes Lizzie is a Zen cat and I try to conjure her up in my mind but her leftover alley cat is what sometimes comes through.

    Love the tapestry post and references/photos and all. And for motivating me to revisit “Wanderers” which is the perfect book for right now. I have never seen the tapestry “in person” and more than once I’ve wished our trip had allowed that extra time. It’s magnificent when seeing photos or reading about it; in person would be inspiring. And I really love your blue acrylic horses. I hope we see these again.

    GREAT box. I have a box thing and thing for interesting folds. I can’t begin to figure out how the designer came up with that!

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