Name That Castle.

Taffy is super excited — and I mean he can hardly contain himself  — about today’s blog post:

Bibs, as usual, can’t figure out what’s going on, but anywhere Taffy goes, Bibs stays close to keep an eye on him:

It’s Friday, so there must be a castle in the works! Excitement galore!!

You can see what made me want to do this one:

See that fat round tower in the center with the two smaller towers popping out of it? I have NO IDEA how to make that, but I have to try. Also, I’ve been wanting to put a castle on a cliff and this one, well, that looks like a cliff to me.

I call my castle-making Book Art, because I use pages from old books as my building material (the Art part of Book Art) and I use books as things that prop up the stuff I build (the Book part of Book Art) but in my opinion these castles would be real, grown-up Book Art if I incorporated more of the Book into the Art. As, like, the book is a structural element of the building or scene, as if the Book were an integral part of the castle.

You now know for a fact that I’m getting fancy-thinking and artistically ambitious when I haul out the subjunctive.

Practically speaking, this means cutting up the book. (Look away, Steve. This is going to get graphic and yes, actual books were harmed.)

So I took a good look at that castle on the cliff and knew that I had just the right book to cut to shreds:

It’s a good thing that books are bound with those blank pages called endpapers inside each coverso that my castle can perch on a clean, non-Nazi platform:

This was my first shot at cutting the guts out of book and I made a mess of it. But every castle-maker needs to practice a new skill, so I wasn’t too hard on myself, and it was only an old Book Club edition of The Goebbels Diaries, which we sold (to me) at the used book store for the bargain price of $1.00. I learned at lot about cutting the guts out of a book:

  1. Most importantly, you have to pick a book that has been aged so that the pages are really soft. You’ll be cutting 4,5,6 pages at a time, so make it easy for yourself.
  2. You can’t just hack away at random pages, as I did (see: photo, above). You have to pick up a set number of pages, over and over, and you have to cut as carefully as if you are cutting out a dress pattern.
  3. This takes time. Don’t hurry, because every hurried cut will show. Resign yourself to spending a half hour doing this incredibly boring thing, except for the end when all your scissoring will have been worth it.
  4. Don’t round the rectangle…don’t cut a circle out of the pages. Keep at least two corners, to retain that “book’ vibe because, otherwise, it looks like a cow pat.

Dear Reader Casey emailed me last week with a question about last week’s castle, about the open-book perch I made from an old copy of the plagiarized work of fiction called Roots:

“As I remember”, Casey wrote me, “Roots had some pretty violent content. How did you find a non-violent page in the middle of the book to leave open?”

Here’s the deal: When I use a middle-of-the-book as the platform for a castle, I can use any book for sale at the used book store regardless of its content because I never leave the original pages hanging out in the open. For last week’s castle, I cut four pages from a similarly-sized book of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and I glued them over the pages from Roots, so that the book appears to be an old tome of German fairy tales instead of a plagiarized American folk tale. The rest of the text that is exposed by the cuts to the corners is impossible to read, so no cover-up is necessary.

However, when I cut into The Goebbels Diaries, I did have to watch out for the odd “Reich” and “Jew”  that popped out, which I cut out (Goebbles uses “Jew” a lot), but then I ditched the whole thing as a practice exercise any way so good riddance, Goebbels.

One more digression: I was sorting a donation that came in last week and came across these two YA novels (Young Adult, ages approx. 12 – 17):

That font on the left side practically screams 1972, doesn’t it? The other one, which shows two girls in a crappy bedroom with a sewing kit, is from 1977. As a rule, we toss any book published before 2000 unless it is historical fiction or a Newbury Prize winner, but I took these books home with me because of their titles. I’m tempted to start a collection of kids’ books with “Die” or “Death” in the title. Because what is life without a bit of whimsy?

I also found this in another pile of donated books:

I don’t know what to do with this letter, but I can’t throw it away.

So, where were we? Oh, right: we left me with scissors in my hand and an undated but probably 1980s era Book Club edition of Vol. I of Shakespeare’s plays. This is how that turned out:

This is its good side:

This is its bad side, as those two towers popping out of the roof of the fat tower were beastly hard to do but I’m pretending that I intended all along for it to look a bit wonky:

I always have the most fun finding bits and pieces to decorate with:

Top Cat asked me what I call this castle,and it had not occurred to me to give the castles names, but of course now that he’s put the idea into my head I am writhing with a castle-naming desire to find the best names in the universe for each construction.

My first tactic would be to steal from Paul Klee (1879 – 1940), the Swiss German artist whose highly individual style was influenced by movements in art that included Expressionism, Cubism, and Surrealism. He was the rare fine artist who was never lazy nor inconsiderate enough to call any of his art works “Untitled”.

P.S. If an artist can’t be bothered to give a title to a work of art, then I can’t be bothered to give a crap.

Paul Klee showed up for his viewers and for his art and gave his watercolors and drawings — all abstract compositions, by the way — the most wonderful titles. Here’s a sample:

A Young Lady’s Adventure

Dream City

Twittering Machine

Separation in the Evening

Once Emerging From the Gray of Night

Heroic Strokes of the Bow

Fish Magic

And my very special favorite, on view at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, is this:

This is called: Mural From the Temple of Longing <Thither>.

I have already stolen this title for my first book, When Wanderers Cease to Roam, on page 50-51:

So it would be bad form to steal this same title again.

If stealing from Paul Klee doesn’t lead to a brilliant castle name, my fall-back tactic is to administer a therapeutic dose of vodka and tonic and see what pops up in my head. It takes about a pint of booze to lighten up my persnickety Capricorn habits of mind and free-associate as well as a Swiss-German surrealist.

To tell the truth, my mind is very scattered these days. I have a sick kitty, and that wrecks my concentration. This kitty is the one who as lived in my house for ten years and has never let me touch her, so getting her to the vet is torture. I have pursued her all over the house by setting traps — TRAPS, in my own HOUSE —  in the basement, the living room, the hallway, the dining room…and she evades them all. She was caught (by me) in the same trap ten years ago and she’s smart enough to not fall for that again.

So, as a last resort, Candy has holed up in my bathroom upstairs:

You can see her dermatitis, where she has pulled out most of her fur because of some kind of skin irritation. I gave her a nice fluffy bed to sleep in and a new litter box to poop in, so of course she sleeps in the litter box and poops in the bed.

My vet did offer a Hail Mary in the form of an over-the-counter anti-histamine that can be used to treat skin rashes, and Candy gets half a pill every day, which she devours because I dissolve it in her favorite snack of diced clams in clam juice.

We’ve been at this for a week and I haven’t seen any more tufts of fur wafting in her wake, so maybe the anti-histamine is working.

I don’t know how long this stand off will last but I would like to have my bathroom back because for now, it is off-limits to me because I can’t go near Candy without her totally freaking out.

My brain is out of gear for another reason: I deny, I reject, I veto, and I refuse to accept that August is over and tomorrow it will be September. Nope. Not gonna happen, not on my watch. Every last shred of my intelligence is dedicated to pretending that for once, things will stay just as they are, here in the last fine days of endless Summer.

Please, Universe, please let that happen.

Or, Universe, and don’t act like You don’t hear me, please let October be worth it with a huge-ass report from special counsel Robert Meuller that details, irrefutably, that der Drumpf is the lying, treasonous, fake-billionaire con-artist turd-pile Anti-Christ (for all those shit-eating MAGA evangelicals) that we know he is. I can face Winter knowing that it will be awash in a Blue Wave. Please, Universe, please let that happen.


Until then, Taffy and Bibs will be warming up our seats on the sunset-watching apparatus in the backyard.

Have a great weekend, Dear Readers. May all your Summer wishes come true, and all your cats not sleep in their litter boxes.

P.S. Here’s the books that I will defile for the next castle:

They are Volumes 1 and 2, published in 1971, worth $4.99 on Our used book store price is $1.00 each. But the thing I want to exploit is this:

I’m thinking: Bridge.

See you back here next week.



12 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan August 31, 2018 @ 2:00 am

    Love the castle. Many old buildings have quirks and twists in them it adds to their charm, so I don’t think your castle has a bad side. It’s interesting. Have you ever seen the spire of St Mary and All Saints in Chesterfield England? I can’t wait to hear what you name your castles. Sorry to hear about the sick kitty, surprising that after all this time she won’t let you near her, poor poor think. I hope the antihistamines are working and that she is not itching. Love to Taffy!

  2. Leslie August 31, 2018 @ 5:00 am

    The best news is that Goebbels has been consigned to the ash heap of history, where he definitely belongs. I was concerned about the karma of his evil thoughts polluting your fanciful construction. Good riddance! Paul Klee is the anti-Goebbels. One of my few happy memories from my junior high school years is when the art teacher showed us a reproduction of “Submarine Garden”, by Paul Klee. I am still thinking about it more the 50 years later.

  3. Kirra August 31, 2018 @ 5:02 am

    This castle is amazing! I don’t think Goebbels deserved to be part of it, good for cutting practise though. I’m pretty excited to see next week’s possible bridge castle too. Your cats look very chilled, except for poor Taffy. Hope she’s better soon! You know you might not get winter for a while, the weather is unpredictable now. I hope you get more sunshine days in September.

  4. Casey August 31, 2018 @ 7:45 am

    Thank you for answering my question! What a great idea, to mask Roots with Grimm’s Fairy Tales. And wow, you really, really don’t like Roots, do you?

    The new castle is divine, of course. I love all the castles. For this one’s name, how about: Whimsy Towers?

    I want to work in your used book store. As soon as I get my transporter working, I’ll be able to beam myself to Long Island every Saturday to pitch in, OK?

    Poor sweet Candy. I hope she feels better soon.

    And wow, you really, really don’t like Drumpf, do you? That only proves that you are a woman of taste and talent. Disgust with Trump is the only sane and humane way to feel about this shit bag president.

  5. Carol August 31, 2018 @ 8:53 am

    You must be channeling a medieval architect. Your castles are amazing! So looking forward to seeing the bridge. Hope Candy is much improved by then and, at least, showing you a bit of gratitude instead of catitude.

  6. jeanie August 31, 2018 @ 9:18 am

    Miss a week and you miss a lot here! Poor Candy. Poor Vivian for not being able to use the bathroom. Glad you have another. I’m lucky I have a visiting vet — wish you did, although she’d probably freak for the vet, too. Lizzie’s been spending a lot of time hiding under a quilt, comforter and sheet during our home rehab issues here at the lake. Our cats and trauma… always makes me sad.

    Love the castle and you found a good purpose for Goebels — cutting him up and covering it with something lovely. The castles all make me smile. I love that you found something new and different to dig into with such glorious intensity. Having the open book bases really ties them all together so well. I’ll have to check through some of my paper stash when I get home, see if I have any books or pamphlets with perfect bits to add to a castle. Although, I don’t think you’ll have any trouble finding things!

  7. Margot August 31, 2018 @ 11:34 am

    Amen to all that! The Blue Tsunami is coming.
    I hope the kitty calms down and stops itching.

  8. Steve August 31, 2018 @ 12:12 pm

    Bibs and Taffy look so comfy! And hopefully poor Candy will be more comfy soon, if her dermatitis cools down.

    I do hate cutting up books, but I can’t complain too much about Goebbels, I must say. Or Imperial Japan, or whatever it’s called. The two YA books you took home are by classic YA authors — I’ve never read either one, but ‘A Day No Pigs Would Die” is particularly famous. It’s interesting that you get rid of anything published before 2000. I sometimes love finding old paperbacks, but I know I’m in the minority, and they really weren’t meant to last forever, were they?

  9. Birdie August 31, 2018 @ 2:05 pm

    You need to teach classes on castle building. Who taught you? I would definitely take a class in this.

    Poor kitty. I have never heard of a cat so feral that it won’t let the owner touch her. I give you the I Love Cats award for your love and patience that hasn’t paid off. You have a good heart.

  10. Mae August 31, 2018 @ 2:52 pm

    Castle Gripsholm by Kurt Tucholsky.
    Castle Rackrent by Maria Edgeworth.
    The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole.
    Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones.
    The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick.
    We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
    I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith.
    Life in a Medieval Castle by Joseph Gies and Frances Gies.

    Thanks for making me think of all the good books with “castle” in the title!

    best… mae at

  11. Judy Roberts Slattery Jennings August 31, 2018 @ 9:28 pm

    …”because, otherwise, it looks like a cowpat.” You make things so interesting, Vivian.

  12. Marilyn September 1, 2018 @ 2:23 pm

    Praying for the blue wave this fall. I can face winter if it happens.
    Love, love your castles and your cats. Poor baby that is sick in your bathroom. I hope she is well soon and let’s you come near for a snuggle.
    I keep wondering if you could cut all those pages with something electric, but not sure what that would be. Just thinking. Cutting 4 or 5 pages at a time would be hard to keep even. Now you have me thinking.
    Happy September 1st!!!

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