That’s My Girl.

I didn’t watch der Dumpster give the State of the Union address but I’ve been reading all about it:

Here are some other possible captions:

Rush this into movie production. I don’t even need to know the plot; I just know it stars Julianne Moore and I will see it five times in the theaters.

Sung to the tune of She’s Always a Woman To Me by Billy Joel:

She can kill with a clap, she can wound with her eyes
And she’s far from impressed with your Soviet ties
And she’d quite like to stab you and laugh as you bleed
She’s Madame Speaker and she’s Nancy the Great One to me

If this isn’t sign language for Fuck you, Asshole, it should be.

From Nancy Pelosi’s daughter: oh yes that clap took me back to the teen years. She knows. And she knows that you know. And frankly she’s disappointed that you thought this would work. But here’s a clap.

Remember how, right after the November elections, everyone thought Nancy Pelosi was too centrist and too Old Party Democrat to be an effective anti-Dumpster Speaker of the House? And now, ever since she manhandled der Dumpster into re-opening the federal government, suddenly everyone loves Nancy Pelosi.

Rock on. When I’m 78-years old, I want to be like her: The Head Bitch in Charge.

Back to the real news: I was sorting through old books at the used book store that I co-manage here on the north shore of Long Island and I realized that I have been a real dope all this past year.

I could kick myself for not having thought of this sooner. . .  all the books that I have to throw out (because they are cookbooks, which no one wants to buy anymore; or they are in terrible condition; or they are religious books, which don’t sell; or they are rejected for any number of reasons) all those books often have very nice free-end papers (see above) that are heavy stock and come in colors that are more subtle and interesting than what you can buy in any art supply store.

Jeeze. I could have been collecting some great free-end papers all this time.

This is what I got from one day of hauling out the trash:

Can you imagine how this will impact (yes, I use “impact” as a verb, so sue me) my book art? Because this is a legit way to get color into the stuff I build out of old crap books that no one wants.

Consider this Vivian’s Tip Of The Day For Making Your Life Better: Get the free-end papers before you throw.

Are you familiar with the J R R Tolkien fantasy novel called The Hobbit? All you have to know is that it’s set in a world where little people live in luxury hobbit-holes dug into the sides of hills and mountains, like this:

This is Bag End, the home of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit from the upper classes of hobbits in The Shire, from the Peter Jackson movie trilogy Lord of the Rings (above and below).

Please note that winding uphill walkway that leads to the round front door. I will be cursing it shortly.

Because of course, this is what I decided to build out of books: Bag End.

I started out making a supporting structure in 2 pieces:

The top is just a dome that I made by criss-crossing strips that I cut out of a book that had nice medium-heavy pages. The bottom bit is a platform, of sorts, that I made out of a Triscuit (the delicious baked-wheat cracker snack) box. . . but after pondering how I was going to insert a winding uphill walkway into a box-like platform, I saw that there was no way I could achieve that in this set-up. So I ripped it apart and built another one out of one of those heavier free-end papers (white):

It was NOT EASY to make this supporting platform, because it had to be circular and curve around the dome, and leave me a recess into which I could insert that damn winding uphill walkway.

This (below) is how I stabilized the platform so it cold be free-standing, and also how I cut it down by half an inch because I made it too high:

I started to glue in strips of bond paper to make the platform slope into the dome . . .

. . . but I realized that I would have to complete the facade of the hobbit hole before I could add to the structure to make the slopes. I did not take photos of my construction of the facade because I am a dope and I was rather absorbed in seeing if this would work out — it was iffy — so here’s a photo of how I inserted that damn winding uphill walkway into the platform structure after I had finished making the facade:

Oh yes. This was as persnickety as it looks. This stairway of the winding uphill walkway took what seemed like hours to do, but was probably only 50 minutes. I had to fiddle with it because none of my first ideas worked — but combined with my second and third ideas with a last-minute fourth idea, I got a reasonable facsimile of a staircase.

Then I covered the treads and the risers of the staircase of the winding uphill walkway with text and other bits:

This is when Top Cat wandered in to my work room and looked over my shoulder and said, “Jeeze, honey, I don’t know…”

I understand that it looks terrible, but I’m not looking at this as a work-in-progress. I’m seeing it finished. That’s the only way I can carry on: Hope Against Hope.

I should tell you that I am using the BEST book for cutting out good green bits for grassy hills and such:

It’s the same paperback children’ book that I used for Farmer MacGregor’s vegetable garden. The only problem with this book is that the pages are thick (Top Cat knows paper and he could tell you how many microns thick it is, but he’s not here right now) and it takes a lot of finesse to drape this somewhat stiff paper over a dome. Be warned. But oh! The illustrations are so delicious!

It all came down to this, the last gap in the back of my hobbit hole:

The paper was too stiff to simply lay a strip over that gap to connect those two sloping ends. So I cut out this:

The notches in the form make the paper more bendy, and it also camouflages the “seams” on each side:

For the record, I am always this careful with the backsides of my builds. For instance, remember this?

This is what it looks like on the side that no one will see:

To finish off Bag End, I cut out some neat little details from my source book:

They covered up little gaps in the coverage and add interest, if you know what I mean. Visual interest to those who are examining this hobbit hole with a magnifying glass, which no one will, but I’m a double Capricorn with Virgo tendencies so I’m a little obsessive:


Top Cat saw this and he said, Wow. I’m not sure it’s a WOW wow, but certainly it’s wowier than when he last time he saw it.

The original plan was for this hobbit hole to go in the foreground of this story, with the Wild Things:

But I forgot that Bag End has a tree that grows atop it, so that nixes that. I’m going to have to make a new story, and a new tree, for a stand-alone Bag End:

Did you hear that the East Coast, including us here on the north shore of Long Island, got a fine heat wave this week and temperatures soared to almost 70 degrees? It was life-affirming, and sun, and I couldn’t resist taking this photo —

The light in the forest. Nice.

Speaking of forests. . . it’s cloudy again, but still mild for Winter, and Taffy has often been missing in action. He has started to do day-long Walk Abouts, and you know how you always fret when your indoor/outdoor cats don’t show up for breakfast. So I had to go find Taffy the other day, and I had to trek through the small woods that separates my backyard from the neighbor’s. In Summer, this woods is so thick that I never even see their house, but in Winter it’s shockingly bare and Taffy doesn’t come when called so I had to venture out where the Wild Things are. Can you see Taffy in this photo (below)?:

He let me pick him up and carry him home. He’s a sweet cat. He’s a terrible brat, yes, but he’s sweet.

On warm days, Steve comes out of his heating-padded nest by the front stoop and sits on his favorite place on our front porch wall:

Dare I say it? We can’t wait for Spring. Which hits here in mid-May.

But wait, there’s more.

We got this in with a nice donation last week:

It was published in 1998. Remember how cute William was when he had all that blond hair? I don’t understand how he’s bald already, since his father has decent hair, and 97-year-old father’s father has respectable hair, and his mother’s father had plenty of hair, and his mother’s brother and nephew have loads of hair. How did he got the bald gene??

I have section in the used book store for British History, and a subsection of Royal Bios. I am surprised that we don’t sell out of our royal bios, because we have some good ones from Alfred the Great to, now, William. This People Magazine bio is available for $1.00.

And here’s the best picture from Prince William’s bio:

Even cat-people can love this. (That looks like his cousin, Lady Gabriella Windsor, behind him.)

Hounds, princes, hobbits, tips for better living. . . now you see why I only blog once a week. (Top Cat still says my posts are too long. Excuuuuse me for being so fascinating.)

Have a great weekend, Dear Ones. Truth is marching on.




14 Comments, RSS

  1. Tell Top Cat they are only too long to people who don’t really get into the step-by-step process of watching someone create something out of basically not much! And something quite incredible. I never would have guessed the Hobbit Hole would come out so beautifully from the start, which tells me your vision is quite remarkable!

    Love our Taffy in the leaves (Yup — I found him in the photo but I really had to look!). Our warm-up was too brief and we’re back in the ice-age here in the Great Lakes belt but it did remind me that things DO actually melt.

    All I can say is Keep It Up, Nancy! (And check out Randy Rainbow’s version of the Cell Block Tango from Chicago. Pretty darned inspired!)

  2. Leslie

    Dear Vivian, OMG! The wild rumpus is backlit! Your little Bag End is charming. It puts me in mind of Mrs. Tiggle Wiggle. Have you come across “The Borrowers”? They are tiny ((English) people who live in the walls of proper homes, and creatively borrow what they need to furnish their homes and provision their larders.
    I’m so glad you’ve taken to end papers. Yes, I know the printed word is typically black and white, but ART suggests a color counterpoint at least. Plus end papers are so sturdy as a building material. I am checking for beautiful end papers in my library, not to destroy a treasured book, but just curiosity. So far I have found two that have archaic maps. My favorites are the hardcover Number One Ladies Detective Agency series.
    Spring is coming. I did see Taffy enjoying the woods, waiting for some littler critter to venture out. Here in Florida, caterpillars are munching. It’s time to plant in Zone 9.

  3. Adrienne

    My son has been losing his hair since he was 19. His father and grandfather were in their 40’s and 50’s when they started to lose theirs.
    Love Bag End and Where the Wild Things Are. Miss the watercolors….

  4. You triggered my curiosity and I looked up baldness and genetics. Naturally I found an article that showed how the old belief — that it was inherited from a man’s mother (X-chromosome) — is now out of fashion with the science people. In other words, like everything that was once easy, now it’s complicated. Even for kings and queens who live in castles that could never be as wonderful as the ones you construct.

    best… mae at

  5. Kirra

    The person who took that photo is very good, no words needed but I love your additions. Your hobbit Bag End is impressive and it totally changes with the green book illustrations over the top. Though the level of difficulty makes me feel nervous just trying to think of one solution, let alone four!

    Good to see Taffy and Steve enjoying the sunshine, I’m sure you will too! I’m having a fabulous time in the Lisbon sunshine this week as a break from snowy Salzburg. It’s amazing.

    You posts are never too long! (Don’t listen to Top Cat on this one).

  6. Becky

    I enjoy your posts…..never too long. Always amazes me how you put together the book sculptures, and who doesn’t love a good kitty picture and story.
    I LOVE Miss Nancy!! It took a woman! Those men are all whimps.

  7. Prince William is STILL cute. Don’t talk down that baldness, now! (In all seriousness, I think there are men on Princess Di’s side who are pretty bald. I always assumed it came from there.)

    Your hobbit hole is FANTASTIC! I love that you put so much effort into every little detail. It really does make a huge difference, as you know. And using the endpapers is a great idea! The more that gets re-used, the better, right?!

  8. Casey

    Oh, I want to live in that hobbit hole. I want to curl up next to Taffy in a pile of leaves. I want to be Nancy Pelosi’s best friend, or maybe I can be her handbag carrier when she needs to free her self to kick ass. You bring out the hedonist in me.

    William is still cute and see?? Even the hounds want to get kissy-face with him.

    NO, this blog is never too long. The best information takes time to read, and absorb, and grok.

    Thanks for the grokking .

  9. Thea

    WOW! Excuuuuse you for being so fascinating, as you truly are. Thanks for working it for our delight.

    (Betty MacDonald wrote all about Mrs. Piggle Wiggle. She also wrote The Egg and I.)

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