Houses of the Holy: Yours, Mine, and Milne’s.

First we were rained out, then we had too many parties to go to, and then it was one thing after another…it was Christmas Eve when we finally  packed up the champagne and the plastic beach glasses to go to our special spot on the north shore of Long Island, by the water’s edge of the Long Island Sound, to celebrate the Winter Solstice. It was cold and windy. We weren’t even sure there would be much of a sun set, it being so cloudy.

But we waited anyway. . .

. . . and at 4:33 PM the Earth and the Sun managed to put on a show of light that felt almost holy, and made us happy to be alive on this marvelous and mysterious planet. Isn’t that what every great sun set does? (That’s the skyline of Manhattan in the way back.)

And then the neighbor’s cat, Dennis, came through the hole in the fence and he didn’t see his shadow, so that means we have 12 more weeks of keeping Dennis warm when he does his mind-meld from the backyard to let us know that he wants to take a Winter’s nap in our house.

Remember back, on November 2, when we set the clocks back to Winter Time and I wrote a check list called Preparation and Dread: Winter is Coming?

Item 8:

Volunteer for a social project. This year, I am starting a new fund-raising event for the library and I hope to raise big bucks but first, I have to change the by-laws so we can have an open bar in the reference section (for just one night! Not for all time!). You can throw all the kids’ events you want, but it’s the grown-ups who have spending money and they won’t come to your dinky library gala if there is no booze.

I still haven’t been able to get the library to lighten up on its tea-total ways, but I have started work on my Winter Sanity Project.

I am organizing the fund raising for a miniature golfing event at our local library, the William Cullen Bryant Library in Roslyn, NY.

We will be setting up an 18-hole miniature golf course INSIDE the library, and bringing in kids and teenagers and adults to play while the library is open, on Saturday April 6, 9 AM – 5 PM.

We have a very generous Title Sponsor in Fidelity Investments — they came through for us like champs. Fidelity is the best. They have been awesome.

And now I am asking businesses in our community for money…you can imagine the endless fun that is. One by one, I am getting Hole Sponsors for the 18 holes but it’s not easy. I am beginning to wonder why the library has not made itself more beloved in the community, because I have seen this mini-golf thing go over huge in other similarly-size towns and in Roslyn it’s mano-a-mano. Without going into details (and I have a lot of details) for now, towns half our size put us to shame when it comes to fund raising for the library. This is a topic I will be happy to bitch about discuss at a later date, but let’s get to happier business for today.

For the month before our mini-golf event, that is, all of March 2019, I will be doing PR to get everyone all fired up to come and play at the Bryant Library. One thing I am doing is making more Book Art, because there’s got to be something in it for me since I don’t play golf and I don’t have kids.

I’m going to make a miniature Miniature Golf course, with our favorite childrens’ book characters as the golfers.

Naturally, I started with this guy:

I made his tree out of plain white bond paper, and then I covered it with strips of text from a paperback copy of  The House At Pooh Corner from 1928, by A. A. Milne with original illustrations by E. H. Shephard.

I used the Pooh Bear from Disney because he’s in color, but don’t fear; I also have Shephard’s wonderful original characters on site, too.

I also used this Disney illustration as a reference:

I really wanted to make one of these holes. I can’t think of what to call them — don’t they have a name?

Luckily, I had made my Pooh tree with different sized tubes of paper (which I rolled myself) so, as most of the tree is hollow, it was easy to stab a hole into the fat tree limb:

I used my trusty scalpel to dig out a nice-sized hole:

This is hard to photograph: I stuffed a cup-shaped disk of dark print into the hole. . .

. . . and then I flattened the edges of the disk around the hole. So, yes, there is actually an interior to this hole:

I glued graduated layers of text into several  O-rings and, while the whole thing was still damp with loads of Elmer’s glue, I shaped it to fit the limb, and set aside to dry:

It mounted onto the tree limb like it was custom-made, which of course it was.

You can see that I have put various characters from The House At Pooh Corner up into the tree — there’s Eeyore, Piglet, Christopher Robin, and Rabbit (above). I put the original Pooh in here on four or five leaves, in homage to the great E. H. Shephard drawings that we all love.

Tigger is on the tree limb on the right.

I will add a golf club to Pooh — I see him carrying it over his shoulder as he gets directions from Gopher to the first tee.

I found several books in the used book store that had green bindings, so I’m using them as “greens” for the miniature miniature golf game that will be played. I also found books that have green end papers:

I have the next “green” lined up. These end papers will give me a nice space to make Farmer MacGregor’s garden for Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny, and maybe have room left over for some Wind in the Willows.

I’m also working on a castle with a dragon from a YA fantasy series, and a formal garden with topiary for the Cat in the Hat.

The miniature miniature golf corse will go on display on March 1, in the same case where the castles are (see: Dec. 7, Somebody in Leicestershire Likes Me).

People are going to be sick of seeing my book art.

One last panic note: My feral indoor cat, Candy, mama to Lickety and Taffy (this is Candy and Taffy, below):

. . . has been very quiet lately. She’s been sleeping a lot, and today she stopped coming ’round to the buffet for breakfast and lunch. So somehow, I got to get close to her to inspect the situation, and now I know why she’s feeling poorly and I am FREAKED OUT.

She has an in-grown claw that, as far as I can see, has curled around and is piercing her pad, and it is inflamed. I did that running around thing you do when you know your sweet kitty (who can’t stand me, BTW) is hurt, flapping my hands, my heart pounding, trying not to faint, trying to remember the phone number to the vet, then resorting to looking it up in my phone book with shaking hands…

In the 11 years that we have known each other, Candy has never let me touch her. But she’s feeling so bad today that I know I can grab her and stuff her into a carrier, my one and only chance to get her to the vet. She has an appointment for 9 AM tomorrow morning (Friday) and I’m sure she will have to be sedated to get her to submit for a nail clipping so I can’t feed her after 8 PM tonight, no problem since she has stopped eating.

I am feeling terrible. And scared. I will have ONE SHOT at getting this cat in a career and THAT’s IT for the rest of my life.

Fuck it. I’m going to make myself a V&T to calm down***, and I’m publishing this on Thursday afternoon, at 2:40 PM, so I hope you Dear Readers who report a ten hour time lag will get this to pop up on your screen in time for me to let you all know how our Friday morning at the vet went.

Dear Readers, please send Candy some vibes to make her relax and accept help from me.

I will post a follow up tomorrow.

See you here in about 20 hours from now.


*** I didn’t have that V&T. I took a few drops of CBD oil, and it worked a charm.  Later that night, I had a few too many V&Ts, but only after 5 o’clock, and then I fell asleep on the couch in the den during the last minutes of Jeopardy!, like civilized people do.

UPDATE:  It’s 1:08 PM Friday afternoon and Candy is home from the vet’s. She was sedated so the vet could pull out a very in-grown claw — it was the worst that the vat had ever seen. She saved the claw for me, but I don’t want to showy because I don’t want you all to think I’m a bad kitty mom. Candy also had an ear infection, and she got a huge dose on antibiotics for that.

I was terrified absit handling Candy this morning. I looked up videos on YouTube about handling a wild cat and I got excellent its, which I used to great effect. I got Candy in the carrier with only one stab wound from her, but I have to tell you that my hands were shaking for half an hour afterwards. I knew that if I didn’t get her in the career this morning that she would NEVER let me near her for a second try.

But all’s well. I had a second cup of tea to calm down, and now Candy is  home and sleeping off the last of the Happy Gas.

Thank you for your good vibes for our girl.

Have a splendid New Year, Dear Ones.




39 Comments, RSS

  1. Megan

    Love your tree it is very realistic and the tree hollow is an excellent addition. Love the monochrome illustrations. Interesting when you start to look around and you find things you need, good luck with green endpapers and covers of books. As for Candy, the advice I always get shouted at me prior to a vet visit is, ‘don’t get a mental picture, don’t get a mental picture, don’t get a mental picture’ if one of the cats gets wind of a trip in the cat carrier then it is always my fault for getting a mental picture. Vivian, try not to think about getting Candy in the carrier or going to see the vet. My Clive would not let me clip his claws, when he went to the vet for a mani pedi he was back in 30 seconds and I thought that they had been unable to wrangle him. NOT SO. He was a perfect patient and was NO TROUBLE at all. I hope that Candy will be the same in a strange environment and with people who you think you’d better behave for. I wish you luck. I would be much more worried about administering the antibiotics that they may prescribe, that is the worst thing in my opinion, giving a cat medicine. Love the sunset at your Solstice Party. Enjoy the down hill run to summer as I enjoy the downhill run to winter. Yay. Happy New Year to you and yours. Especially Taffy.

    • Vivian

      I am too much of a softie when it comes to my cats. Vets and vet techs handle sooooo may cats that they have an assurance and an objectivity that I cannot muster when it comes to dealing with my crew. I am in such fear of them holding a grudge against me that when I have to handle them, I wimp out. But that’s hilarious about not getting a mental picture about a procedure, lest your cat read your mind and get wind of what’s about to happen. I am sure that my cats can read my mind, and they know how easy it is to psyche me out.

  2. Casey

    Sending good thoughts to you and Candy. She’s in good hands, I’m sure.

    LOVE the Pooh tree. What a difference from the castles. I like that it’s lumpy and gnarly. Is the hole called a Bolt Hole? Or have I been reading too many English novels?

    Winter sun sets are special, and they go so well with ice cold champagne. thanks for the beautiful photo.

  3. Maureen L Riley

    it’s Friday morning and i’m hoping the visit to the vet went without a hitch! fingers crossed <3

    loved the sunset, indeed a glorious one. and of course, what popped into my head was this old saw: red at night, sailor's delight

    as for Pooh, i’m delighted you selected him for the first tee. i just finished watching the latest iteration of that story, Disney’s Christopher Robin. it’s an absolute delight and reminded me why i love Pooh and all his friends so much. i’m loving what you are doing with the illustrations of the characters, and that tree is beyond spectacular. i can’t wait to see what comes next. good luck with such a huge undertaking.

    and as for libraries, i hold a special place in my heart for them, so i hope your fundraising goes well.

    as for the holes in trees, i googled it and found they are commonly referred to as “tree holes” and “tree hollows” … i vote for “hollow”, it conjures up all kinds of wonderful mental images, wouldn’t you agree?


    • Vivian

      I want to see Christopher Robin. I’ve read that being the real Christopher Robin was no picnic, poor boy. Do you remember the ’90s TV show, Northern Exposure? Remember the DJ, Chris in the Morning? His full name was Christopher Robin. It was a nice touch.

  4. Betsy Akins

    Love your book art! It is so clever and imaginative. You are putting it together so thoughtfully and the miniature golf course idea is brilliant. This gives me ideas too. Thanks for showing us. (Your cat stories and descriptions are so funny!)

    • Vivian

      Thank you, Betsy. It’s hard to get over the gag reflex of cutting into a hard bound book, but the more I do, the easier it gets. I think this might be my new obsession.

  5. Kirra

    Good Vibes Candy!! I hope you have a successful trip to the vet and are pain free soon. All the best to you too Vivian, all sounds very stressful.

    Your champagne sunset looks wonderful. We had some proper French champagne for breakfast/brunch on Christmas day and it was delicious. I am still waiting to do a champagne-o-meter here in Salzburg, I didn’t have anything the first time it snowed and then forgot to put it out the night before the last time and then now the snow has gone. But I have a bottle in the cupboard waiting.

    Your mini golf sculpture is truly amazing! I can’t wait to see the rest. If your locals don’t appreciate this unique art and get fired up for the mini golf INSIDE the library then I’m not sure what’s wrong with them. I hope it’s not too tricky to get sponsors for all the 18 holes.

    • Vivian

      Oh! A Champagne-O-Meter in Salzburg would beat any Champagne-O-Meter I’d have in my backyard, by a mile. Oh yes, please take photos!

      I’m beginning to think it might be impossible to get sponsors for all 18 holes. I’m handicapped in that I have to ask people for money without the benefit of an open bar.

  6. That Pooh tree is amazing! The whole mini-golf book-art idea is fabulous and I’m SO looking forward to the rest — 18 greens! What a fun challenge — will they all be from children’s books?

    Please post the Candy update soon — I hope you got her into the carrier and got her relief from the nail. Poor kitty!

    • Vivian

      Hoo boy, there is not way I can do 18 holes of miniature miniature golf! I don’t have the brainpower to sustain such an epic presentation. I’m hoping to get away with 9 holes, on six “greens”. I have to take shelf space into consideration, and lucky for me, the display case isn’t big enough for 18 holes. But one thing is for sure: one of the “greens” will have topiary.

  7. Margot Boyer

    Oh, I hope you got Candy. I’m sure you did by now, and that she’s being treated. Maybe this will deepen your bond: my semi-feral kitty got used to me touching her when she was recovering from surgery in a small, warm bathroom. We look forward to the update.

    • Vivian

      Yep, Candy was got and the vet pulled the claw out of her paw.

      I took your advise and when Candy came home, while she was sitting quietly in her carrier, before I set her free, I reached in and stroked her. She let out something that was both a growl and a wail, and the sound was so freaky that I ceased all attempts to connect with her and she took off out of the carrier as if it was on fire.

  8. Patricia

    Administering medicine to a cat who won’t be touched. Woo boy! A clever vet came up with a topical Rx I could rub on Shredder’s (name well deserved) alternate ears since I refused to set myself up for my own trip to the people E.R. by trying to shove a pill down her throat. Injections administered by pros (not you)? And likely now Candy is wearing a cone to keep her from licking her sore paw.

    Whatever happens, it’s going to change your relationship with her. Best wishes on 1. Candy and the vet 2. Candy and her follow-up meds 3.Your mini miniature golf course 4. raising $$$ for your library.

    • Vivian

      I took the last three weeks off from heavy duty fund-raising, but i’m gearing up for a new round of rejections. Yeeeesh. Begging for money STINKS.

  9. Leslie

    Just checking back for a kitty health update. I hope all is well. I like your tree, and hope you will follow up with more. I have just ordered “The Overstory” – and look forward to reading about the inner lives of trees. I am going to brazenly suggest that your trees (if you are planning to make more of them) have differently shaped leaves. I was initially shocked (incredulous!) to see the Disney Pooh cavorting on your blog, but you made it right. If color is the issue, why not paint?
    I wish you and Top Cat a year of joy, beautiful one-of-a-kind sunsets, and every other wonderful thing you wish for…including justice for ALL!

    • Vivian

      YES. Knot hole is what I call them. I couldn’t remember because I was thinking too hard about it, but yes, knot hole sounds right. It’s probably not accurate, but that’s what I’ve been calling them for about 50 years. thanks!

    • Vivian

      Don’t we all deserve a V&T? If it’s not sick cats, it’s just getting through one more day, and for that, yes, we all deserve a V&T.

  10. Candy, Candy. I hope you wore kevlar gloves. And protection. Poor thing — bad enough not to like being touched but then in pain. So glad the vet could take care of it and also work on the ear issue. You ARE a good cat mom — how else would you ever have known, given her lack of cuddle and paw time? Hope your wound heals quickly and that Candy perhaps realizes you are her friend after all.

    Well, I love to bits the Pooh book art and can’t wait to see my boy Peter Rabbit in book art form. What a wonderful idea, both the art pieces and the fundraiser itself. The mini-golf sounds really fun and very creative. And good luck with the library and alcohol. Just one night! I suppose you could hold it off site but that sort of defeats the purpose of a) getting people in there to see what you have and b) a free venue. Good luck with that. I’ve been on the ask side too many times and hate it.

    And finally, the sunset was glorious — so glad you held out for it. Worth all the cold, the weather, everything. Happy New Year!

    • Vivian

      I love Peter Rabbit, but his cousin, Benjamin Bunny, is a real hoot. I know that they will enjoy playing miniature miniature golf with the Wind in the Willows guys.

  11. Marg-o

    I was going to add “knot hole” but your brilliant readers beat me to it. I love the Pooh knot hole. Maybe, and I hate to edit a genius artist like you, you could put a balloon up in the branches near the knot hole? In homage to Pooh’s story, of course, but also, in homage to that orange balloon you wrote about in the blizzard in your brilliant book When Wanderers Cease to Roam. (I know that book almost by heart.)

    Yay! Candy is home and recuperating and both of you got through the traumatic experience in one piece. Yes, Karen is right, you deserve that V&T NOW.

  12. Hey, there you are! Thanks for your hilarious/interesting comments on my blog!
    (Your Blogger sign-in doesn’t lead to a blog, as you know, but I found the link on Steve’s “Shadows & Light” blogroll).

    I spent a couple happy hours reading backward—scanning especially for mentions of the used bookstore. When you complained that you spend much of your time throwing out other people’s junk, which they donate so they don’t have to, I was so happy. I’m not alone! (Also, rescuing iced-in tiny things from parking lots.)
    Paying for garbage removal is one of the biggest expenses at the thrift store where I’m Book Lady.

    Do you need any more illustrated children’s books to cut up for your wonderful mini–miniature golf art?
    We have several.
    Let’s see… (I’m at home, so this in in my mind’s eye.)
    There’s a nice old Wind in the Willows, for instance, that no one wants, even for 49 cents–illus. by Ernest Shepherd. (That would pair nicely with your Pooh.)

    Three volumes of The Golden Book Encyclopedia (nice illustrations but the paper isn’t very bendable, come to think of it–might not wrap well); a couple 1960s volumes of Companion Library classics–two books in one–you flip the book and the 2nd story is upside down. (Nice endpapers too.)

    I could send you photos if you want–these are all on the verge of being recycled, so they’d be free to you and it’d be cheap to media mail them to you.

    Speaking of children’s books, did you ever read that copy of Alberic the Wise?
    I have that very one–it was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I took Alberic’s words to heart:
    “It is better to look for what you may never find than to find what you don’t really want.”

    NOT a complete guide to life, turns out, but saying no has served me well.

    Anyway… Happy New Year!

    • P.S. Darn! I can’t believe it—that copy of _Wind in the Willows_, which has been rattling around the bookshelves for a couple months, sold over the weekend!!!

    • Vivian

      Hi Fresca! I used to have the Golden Book encyclopedia when I was a kid…or maybe I just had a few volumes of it (knowing that my parents would never spring for something so lavish as a complete set). I love your stories of thrift shop book managing, because I’m new to it and I have, as I have with everything, a love/hate relationship with the store, the books, and the customers.

      Thank you for you offer of your WITW. wish I could find an E. Shepherd version of Wind in the Willows. I suspect that a the illustrations would not be terribly useful but I’d rather go with originals than any of the numerous other editions. I’m meeting three book donors this week and one lady tells me she has 12 boxes of books so you never know if tire’s an E. Sheperd awaiting my un-boxing. Fingers crossed. the wining Mega millions ticket was sold five miles from y house here on the north shore of Long Island so the karma looks good.

      • Fresca

        OMG!!! A paperback copy of the 1961 Shepherd illus. edition just came in this Saturday morning!!! Do you want it? I’d love to mail it to you at the library)or wherever is best) as a gift. Let me know.
        It’s in clean good condition.

  13. I love the tree! I never had a problem with the Disney Pooh, but I know a lot of people do. (And yeah, I can see the superior charm of Shepard’s art.) I’m glad Candy is home and (hopefully) on the mend! And yes, knothole was my answer too.

    • Vivian

      Steve, trust your judgement about knot holes, even about its being one word instead of 2. I thought that the guy who voiced Winnie the Pooh for Disney was perfect: Sterling Halloway. I think he did the snake in The Jungle Book, too. He was great.

  14. Oh my! Poor Candy! I hope she is getting better now. I can understand the one try at the carrier and my cat isn’t feral. He hates it.
    The celebrating at the waters edge looks very special.
    I am in LOVE with your Pooh tree. It is so wonderful.
    Happy New Year!

    • Vivian

      The show looks like its something that is exactly up my alley, but I missed the deadline and it seems that the MFA was the last stop for the show. Well, I can always go to the V&A, and I need a good reason to get back to London.

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