What Would Taffy Do?

Look at this poor pathetic lonesome kitty (Dennis, from next door) huddling in the hutch in the backyard in the pouring rain:

Have no fear, five minutes later he was hanging with his frenemy, Taffy:

If you can read Cat Body language, you’ll know that Taffy is kind of being a jerk.

I also have bird action going on in my backyard. Every morning before dawn (sun rise today was 7:19 AM) I fill the bird feeder that hangs at the picture window in our den. Then, because only tiny birds can perch on the bird feeder, I pour a pile of bird seed onto the small cafe table that is on our den patio for the bigger birds. I also pour some dry cat food out because the Blue Jays and the squirrels love it:

Shortly after I do my pour, here comes Taffy, kind of being a jerk again:

I couldn’t get a picture of the Cardinals and Blue Jays that swoop in for the buffet, but here’s the next shift of big birds, the doves:

By noon, this is what the table looks like:

Today I’m going to answer Dear Reader Casey’s request for close up info about the garden I made last week:

This is Farmer MacGregor’s garden, famous for being the garden that Peter Rabbit raided , when he was being naughty, in the Beatrix Potter classic, The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

To make the particulars of this garden, I am cutting up another, lesser, children’ classic:

The used book store that I manage for charity had TWO copies of this book, a 50-page paperback picture book. One is in good condition and we priced it at $1.00; the other was a bit beat-up, so we priced it at 50 cents.

As a professional fake garden artist, I can tell you that this is the BEST BOOK EVER for making paper gardens. It has illustrations such as this:

Which, if you look carefully, you will see how I cut up the leaves to make the first two rows of cabbage for Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

See those next tow rows? I think of them as lettuces in the Romaine family, and I cut up an illustration of raging water to make them:

I am not tempted to read this book, so I’m guessing that it’s about little tiny people who live in trees, and then there’s raging water. I don’t know why. But there’s a lot of delightfully useful woodland illustrations, and I cut out a line of trees in the background of one illustration to make the hedge that surrounds Farmer MacGregor’s garden:

I used up both books to make this side of the hedge, so for the front of the hedge I had to cut up this illustration:

And that’s the part that borders Farmer MacGregor’s gate. . .

. . . the gate that Peter scurries under to give mean old Farmer MacGregor the slip:

And here’s Peter Rabbit and his cousin, Benjamin Bunny, playing miniature miniature golf:

I haven’t found the right size bead, yet, to make the ball but I had to show you these two golfing buddies as a work-in-progress because OH MY GOD are they not insanely cute????

But what, there’s more: I also went back to my original Pooh Bear tree and added some golfing details to my favorite bear, plus some other golfers that I think Pooh would like to tee off with:

If you can think of another bear from Storyland, I would love the make this a foursome.

So, when I’m not concocting golf clubs for classic characters in childrens’ literature I’m still pounding the pavement, knocking on doors, barging into offices, begging for money for our local library. I really hate it. It’s cold, I have to wear real clothes, and nobody is thrilled to see me.

Now, we have a nice list of wonderful sponsors so far — they are heroes and I love them. But still…I wish I was selling Girl Scout Cookies, not expensive miniature golf sponsorships. I’m also going through a slew of donations this month at the used book store that I co-manage for the benefit of the library is closed for re-stocking.

I am guessing that a lot of people make a New Year’s resolution to de-clutter and good for them. they are sticking to their guns and clearing out the bookshelves and we have been lucky to get a TON of nice books, plus the usual percentage of filthy crap stuff that I have to box up and have carted out to the landfill and get grubby over.

And I do all this for FREE.

So when I found out at the last board meeting of the Friends of the local library that the president of the Friends had OK’d rather large holiday  GIFTS to some of the library administrators, I hit the roof.

These administrators are getting paid thanks to local tax payers like me. They also get, thanks to the local tax payers, full pensions. They and all their dependents, thanks to local tax payers, get very nice medical and DENTAL benefits. And, honestly, being a librarian in a small village is one of the easiest damn jobs in the world. And yet, they get GIFTS to “thank them” for going “above and beyond” for the Friends??? As it was explained to me, this means that the staff spends a few hours a year making photo copies and filling in tax forms for the Freieds and lets us take a room in their annex to sell used books.

Right: For letting me work like a stevedore FOR FREE so I can turn over all the money I get from working at the used book store and begging for donations from the business community, I should be grateful for the minuscule amount of work the staff does during their working day??

I was shouting at the president that I’m sure that when someone gives a charitable donation to the Friends of the Library that they do not want that donation spent on Amazon gift Certificates for the damn library staff. In fact, the IRS doesn’t like that either and I was PISSED off enough to go read all about what a 501 (c) (3) can and cannot spend its tax-free charitable donation on and I’m ready to go to the mattresses for to make sure we do not spend any more damn money for damn GIFTs for the damn library staff.

So I ask you, Dear Readers, am I being righteous or am I just being kind of a jerk?

I wonder what our resident kind-of-a-jerk Taffy would do:

Well, that’s not helpful.

About der Drumpf’s argument for having the taxpayers pony up $5 billion for a southern wall, all I want is for the Democrats to roll the tape where the TrumpDumpster promises, over and over, that he’ll build a wall and Mexico will pay for it. And then, I want the Democrats to look into the camera and yell:


Have a great weekend, Dear Readers.



17 Comments, RSS

  1. Does it have to be a bear?
    What came to mind was the Frances books, by Russell Hoban, illus. Garth Williams, but Frances and her family are badgers–though I had to look that up because I guess I always thought of them as sort of bears.
    I think Frances would love mini-golf, and would make up a little song about it too.

    There’s Little Bear, illus by Maurice Sendak–but I never read those books.

    And that’s all I can come up with!

    Was it really an AMAZON gift card the librarians got? If so, wouldn’t it be more fitting to support independent local bookstores?
    But I understand that’s not your beef.

    Also, I’d say if gift cards are to given at all, the board should give them to UNPAID volunteers (such as your good self) before or as well as paid staff.

    I don’t know about cat body language–how is Taffy being a jerk to Dennis?

    LOVE the garden!!! All the details!

    As for de-cluttering, I’m hoping my thrift store gets a windfall of books because –did you see?–de-clutter guru Marie Kondo says BOOKS ARE CLUTTER.

    • Vivian

      I love Garth Williams. Frances would make a good addition to the Wind in the Willows crew, being as they have a badger too and I recently watched a Nature program on PBS the showed real live badgers and they are CUUUUUUUUTE. and I’m all about CUUUUUUTE.

  2. Adrienne

    Lots of bears come to mind (Baloo, Yogi, Fozzie) but for your purposes I suggest you check out the Little Bear books. I seem to remember that Maurice Sendak won a Caldecott medal for one of them.
    It’s fun to see your garden and castles, but I really miss your watercolor. I’m a painter myself – that’s how I found you. Hope to see more of it.
    I can empathize with your volunteer situation. Something very similar happened to me.

    • Vivian

      YES!! Baloo! I love Baloo! I want Baloo…and now I know what I’ll be doing for the next few hours: tracking down a Baloo image that will work on a golf course.

      thank you so much, Adrienne.

  3. Megan

    Do you have Rupert the Bear? Maybe he can play golf. I think Taffy and Dennis are super cute, I don’t think that Taffy is being a jerk at all, my two cats tolerated each other… well actually I think they really liked each other but didn’t let on as they would wait for each other to go on adventures together, one would walk across the garden and the other would pass a few second later, they also cohabited the lounge together but never touching! I totally agree with you about the librarians getting a Christmas present, I guess I’ve never got one before maybe I am jealous. I worked for a government funded broadcaster so they didn’t throw money around willy nilly. Stick to your guns, without your principals what are you? I, and my coworkers worked on a grumpy exterior to stop people trying to take advantage of us… ha ha. Love the good work the birds do in keeping the table nice and clean.

  4. catlover

    It is too bad that the Library Friends used donation money for expensive gifts for the librarians, however I work part time in my local library and I can assure you that librarians are right in there (like teachers, which I once was as well) as hardworking and dedicated professionals who are on task at all times. So, please don’t disparage the workers – just get mad and change the policy for the Friends board.
    Also Taffy is not a jerk – all cats are all about themselves. But you knew that…

  5. Leslie

    Little Bear sprung to mind at once. He is well-mannered and sensitive. I think he would get along well with the others. Little Bear’s father wears a lovely three piece suit. Little Bear’s mother and grandparents are also well dressed (high Edwardian) as well. They would be so proud! You can’t go wrong with Maurice Sendak. What about Max, from”Where the Wild Things Are?” He’s not a bear, but his mother did call him “wild thing” and send him to bed without any supper.
    Re gifts: I think it would be appropriate for the library to somehow honor their volunteers. I’m guessing that the volunteer(s) are not directing their volunteer efforts to provide generous gift cards for the librarians. After all, the librarians have access to the library, why Amazon gift cards? How about a gift supporting one of the lovely businesses of Roslyn or a neighboring village? Just a few thoughts….

  6. Kirra

    I still like Taffy! Denis is the next door cat, so he’s being accommodated into the house. Interesting to see how you made that Peter Rabbit garden out of the picture book. I like the additions to Pooh’s golfing party.

    That sounds ridiculous about the friends of the library buying amazon vouchers for people that work at a library! You can’t ask people to volunteer and then spend the money they raise on presents for the paid employees. You could have written them a Christmas card and all written thank you message in it from the friends group and it would have been a more meaningful present.

  7. Casey

    Oh Thank You for showing those details of Peter Rabbit’s garden!! I want to shrink down to their size so I could play miniature miniature golf with all my favorite bunnies and bears. Your work is beautiful. I am most grateful, thank you.

    About the giving of charitable money for gifts for public employees. It’s strange that the librarians accepted them in the first place. It’s unseemly, if anything.

    Ah, Taffy. he’s a bit of a bad boy, and that’s why we love him.

  8. Rachel

    Vivian, I am 120% behind you concerning the Amazon gift cards for paid staff. The last year I taught school, the teachers were expected to pay for the food, drink, and paper goods for the parent-teacher night!!
    This made me so angry that I went to local businesses for donations. The only think I lacked was napkins, so I purchased some and put it on my classroom expenses(science and art supplies)list….maybe a total of $4-5. When I turned in my expense list for reimbursement, the principal called me in and told me that the teachers had to pay for the napkins. He made close to $90,000.+ a year and drove a Cadillac SUV!!! That was also the year that I spent $500.-600. out of my own pocket for supplies because we were given so few……file folders, tape, copy paper, staples, markers, etc. I hope you are able to find tax laws that forbid this kind of thing.
    I enjoy watching you watercolor, build castles, and scenes from books. I dabble a bit, and am taking a watercolor class this winter. 16 weeks…lst 8 are techniques; last 8 are application. And, I teach a card making class. Oh, to be retired and having fun….just thankful to have lived long enough to indulge.

  9. I’ve never been drawn to bad boys, but I’ll make an exception for Taffy. I love him so. Can you explain what jerky thing he’s doing in the top picture? Is it taking the top spot? To me he just looks adorable at all times so it’s hard to tell where he’s being jerky.

    Now this is going to sound horrible, but I was a public librarian and frankly I could have used a gift certificate just for putting up with our “Library Friends” group. I worked in an affluent area with a large population of retired management types who ran our Friends group with Robert’s Rules of Order and a tendency to snap orders at us even though they weren’t our employers. Of course it was good of them to donate their time and to run book sales, but it was hard to keep that in mind the rest of the year when they got in our space and never hesitated to treat us like their personal servants no matter what else we might be doing (like, you know, literally helping patrons or checking out books).

    That said–thank you for fundraising for your library. It’s thankless work. And largely I agree with you that library workers should just get a good base salary that reflects sometimes trying work conditions (in that same affluent library people often berated me so horribly over their 50-cent fines that I had to go in back and cry–even though I will do almost anything to never cry at a job) and advanced degrees–and then skip the gift certificates. Particularly to Amazon, for crying out loud. Like Bezos needs any more of your or anyone’s money.

  10. Becky

    I absolutely love the garden that you created. Are you family with the book Bear Wants More? I don’t know the author but the book is darling. I repeat myself when I say you are so creative and have much more patience than I would ever have.
    The abuse of monies occurs in more places than the WH. It is always upsetting when you discover it.
    The drumpf news makes me weary….not giving up …..but how much more crap needs to come out before the republicans stand up and do their job.
    For myself I am going lose myself in Hamilton this weekend?

  11. Marg-o

    Sigh. I want to be a bunny in your garden.

    I think your Friends are guilty of the same thing as El Cheeto, who used his “charity” (foundation, philanthropy, whatever) for self-dealing. I agree with you that employees should not be taking charity donations as gifts.

  12. TheOtherBev

    Happy Birthday, Vivian. You deserve a great day for all the creativity and humor and cats that you share here, week after week.

  13. OK — I let this page be open too long without refreshing and I’m not sure the comment took. So fortunately, having done this more than once, I copied before I sent:

    Can’t believe it’s almost time for another post from you and while I DID see this last Friday, I hadn’t come back to comment! SO, first, I notice in the comments Happy Birthday wishes are due! Big ones coming your way!

    Second, I love me my Taffy pix. And as long as Taffy isn’t spitting and fighting I think the Dennis relationship is admirable. No jerk behavior here, although the table climbing is pushing the envelope!

    Bears — everyone picked my options! I think you’re good to go.

    Gift cards? Well, I don’t know about the librarians getting one. Seems like they have a pretty good deal. But any non-profit that does things for volunteers should do something to honor them. A gift card would be great, Or a party. Or something. Because folks like you (and I’ve done it too) work bloody hard to support valuable institutions and they deserve praise, credit and when possible a thank you gift of some sort. You are not out of line in thinking this. (Much like the people who are getting big bonuses while they lay off employees or shut down the government and don’t pay them at all — but I digress… (And what’s wrong with providing a gift certificate to a local business versus Amazon. I love ’em to pieces but the locals really need support.

    Finally, LOVED seeing the close-ups of the gardens and your new golfers. I thought you painted those cabbages and lettuces so extra fun to see where you pulled them from. These are unbelievably cool. You should be in the NYTimes for this one (and the castles, too). New York Author (yeah, I know — dime a dozen) Supports Long Island Library with Creative Castles and Golfing Scenes. OK, needs a better headline but…

  14. ann

    I love the rabbits with the golf clubs.

    Taffy is just as bad my two darlings, Fee and Rocky.

    I have a problem with the gift cards.

    It is so hard to raise money. They should give it try and see how difficult it is.

    Happy Birthday! and thank you for all you do.

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