You Can’t Spell CASTLE Without CAT.

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


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.

23 Comments, RSS

    • Vivian

      Oh, I like that: “whimsical to the nth degree”. That might be the title of my show, when I round up my castles for display in December. I am stopping at 10 because I think it’s a nice round number, and the exhibit space is limited.

  1. I actually LOVE your fairy castle. It’s really great! I’ve never heard of a lesser celandine, though it looks vaguely familiar. I suppose it’s somewhat unremarkable, hence “lesser.” Is there a greater celandine? Funny how something perfectly at home in Europe can be invasive in the States (like loosestrife). Have a great time in California!

    • Vivian

      Why, thank you Steve. I was afraid that I’d crossed the line with this one…I am not normally a fan of fairies (or unicorns, rainbows, and ballerinas). But maybe one little fairy isn’t going to kill me.

  2. Kirra

    Wow! Your fairy castle is rather spectacular balancing in the air. I like the leaves and butterflies as printed extras. Lucky Dickens was on hand to cover up Hitler

    Good to hear you’ve cooled down a bit, no air con in that heat/humidity combo is not nice, thank you public library. I like that the French interview their politicians in depth about their pets.

    All the best for the final castle!

    • Vivian

      I think it’s fantastic that men are going public with their love of cats. Remember when being a cat-person was the worst thing to be? When having a cat was un-manly? Not anymore. Thanks to the internet, cats are cool.

  3. Megan

    Another perfect blog post, cats and very cute castles in miniature. I think you’ve outdone yourself, that castle is very cute and I’m impressed with the engineering. How clever to find that article on the cat loving pollie it brings a smile to my face, there is hope after all. Good luck with Cindy at least she is improving and the weather can’t be helping. Fingers crossed you have a good outcome.

  4. Donna

    Vivian, I look forward to reading your posts each week. Thanks for your insights, opinions and humor. You are doing your part to keep us all sane during these difficult times.

  5. Patricia

    I quite like your castle of the Lesser Celandine Fairy even if you find it a bit treacle-ish. I think it’s the very best kind of twee … but since I just came from watching “Christopher Robin”, twee is my cup of tea (or in this case, hot chocolate with whip on top).

    I get that about not actually hanging about in the library you work so hard to support. I’m on the volunteer library committee in my building and get all my own books from Seattle Public library or their sales or the best deal, the mystery book exchange at Phinney center. I finally checked out my first book here just last week (found it when hard at work moving nearly every damn book in our library… fortunately it’s a small library). I also volunteer at the giant Friends of the library book sale and at the Phinney center … and therefore get free books I eventually donate back to them. Instead of creatively whipping them up into Castles exploding from books.

    You waste time in the most creative ways. Pooh would definitely approve.

    • Vivian

      that means the world to me, to think that Pooh and I might be like-minded. I would love to play Poohsticks with him, and then sit down for a cup of tea and lots of hunny.

  6. It’s been awhile since I paid a visit to Vivian land. So glad I did! Love the castle! I’m sure people will not only throw oodles of money your way to support the library, but create more demand for castles. Who doesn’t need our own little dream castle?

    The devastation in Orient and New Bern is so heart-breaking. Such a beautiful place. We were impressed by the strength of community and place making when we visited New Bern and Orient two-years ago. Hopefully they’ll be able to rise together to put their community back together. Though having personally lost a home to a flood, I know it takes YEARS to recover. Holding all those folks along the North Carolina coast in our prayers.

    Hope you had a fun weekend away in California.

    • Vivian

      Felicia! It’s been a long time!

      Lat year Top Cat and I went to New Bern and I was instantly smitten with the place. It’s heartbreaking to see those pictures of it under water. I want to go back and revisit it soon.

  7. Now that castle is a balancing act. How did you weight down the side so it didn’t topple too much. Or is is just REALLY good glue? Bravo. I think it’s my favorite. The Lesser Celandine Fairy with the Mostest. Actually, that name worried me when I first saw “Lesser Celandine…”– I wondered what she did to be downgrade to lesser but apparently, nothing. Whew. Another crisis avoided. Hate to see a fairy’s self esteem go down the toilet because someone called her Lesser. With or without cause.

    Is that my Taffy? Oh, looking divinely luxurious — and hot!

    Glad to hear Yannick is a nice guy and Candy is at least sleeping on a bit more of a comfy space. I wish you had my visiting vet. And wishes to your people in NC. Brutal storm. At least I haven’t seen paper towels being thrown. Will it ever stop?

    Happy travels!

    • Vivian

      Yep, that’s Mr. Taffy, lazing on the last of the Summer days.

      Even if I had a visiting vet, it would still be impossible to get hands on Candy. She just does not like people. But she does appear to be on the mend, and I hope cooler weather will make her even more comfortable.

  8. Becky

    I have been catching up on all the castle building. Each one is so unique… much patience….so much talent. These will knock people’s socks off at the December show.
    Seeing a guy with a little poofy dog brings a smile to me in addition to a guy enamored with a cat. I hope that Candy is doing better with each passing day. We also have a vet who is just starting to make home visits, but if she is that skittish a visiting vet would probably freak her out. As always Taffy just makes you smile
    Safe travels to you. Have a great trip

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