The Scratching Post!, or a Great Big Blog Post for the Cats In Our Lives

Well, we're down a porch baby.  Three feral kittens are still making a home on our front porch, but the little tortoiseshell decided she liked us too much to stay outside.  Of course, I couldn't let her roam the house yet, exposing my old girls, Katie and Jenny, to whatever outside kitty germs she might have.  So we wrapped her in an old receiving blanket yesterday, and Big Sis held her as I drove to the Cat Hospital.  Mabel has a foul stench - I mean, she stinks to high heaven - and I noticed she hadn't been eating with her brothers and sister lately.  Sure enough, besides the expected case of roundworm and fleas, Miss Mabel has a nasty protozoan infection.  It's highly contagious to other cats, so she is being quarantined in one of my grandma's bathrooms, while she undergoes three weeks of drug treatments.  The good news is that she was still purring during and after the vet visit, and she took her first dose of medicine like a champ!

We'll go visit her every day, while we wait for her to get well.  Meanwhile, I think I'm going to call a local trap and release cat program regarding the other three.  They aren't as friendly as Mabel, and I just don't know what to do.  All because we tried to help our late neighbor's cat - and he doesn't even come to our house anymore!

We get to delay introducing a kitten to Katie and Jenny.  Poor old things.  They will be 15 and 14 this year, and I don't think either one is going to take too kindly to a new kitty.  In fact, I didn't want another pet yet.  My idea was to allow our kitty girls to live out the rest of their lives being pampered and adored.  Then when they died, I wanted to get a dog.  But we aren't really adopting Mabel - Mabel adopted us.  She needed help, and she was smart enough to figure out we could help her.  Let's hope she doesn't change her mind once she meets the boss ladies of the house.

Mr. B and Katie in 2001, soon after we started dating.  She was his baby.
Me with Jenny, 2001.  We adopted her in October of that year.

So to celebrate our new addition - even if she cannot live with us yet - I thought I'd celebrate the felines today!  Sorry, dog people.  (The joke?  Although my mom and her sister come dangerously close to real-life Crazy Cat Ladydom - they'll admit it, too - I'm more of a dog person myself.  I just haven't had one of my own in a long time.)

Top Row: Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag.  Coward-McCann, 1928; current edition published by Puffin, 2006.   I Don't Want a Cool Cat by Emma Dodd. Little, Brown, 2010.   Kitten's First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes. HarperCollins, 2004.   Bad Kitty by Nick Bruel. Roaring Brook Press, 2005.  
Second Row: Skippyjon Jones by Judy Schachner. Dutton Juvenile, 2003.  The Grannyman by Judy Schachner. Puffin, 2003.
Third Row:  The Shy Little Kitten (Little Golden Book) by Cathleen Schurr, illustrated by Gustaf Tenggren. Simon & Schuster, 1946; current edition published by Golden Books, 1999.  Hello Kitty Friendship Doodles by Sanrio. Running Press Books, 2011.  Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Eric Litwin, illustrated by James Dean. HarperCollins, 2010.  Three Little Kittens by Paul Galdone. Houghton Mifflin, 1986; new edition, 2011.
Bottom Row:  Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009.  (See Wikipedia for other editions.)  There Are No Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz. Candlewick, 2010.   Splat the Cat by Rob Scotton.  HarperCollins, 2008.  There Are Cats in this Book by Viviane Schwarz. Candlewick, 2008.

Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg, but these are some of my favorite characters and stories involving cats in book form.  And it's by no means a complete list of my own favorites:  I left out this out-of-print gem and managed to leave off The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back!  Sacrilege!  Sleep deprivation!

And yes, I included one Hello Kitty activity book title in my list.  Because Hello Kitty is tops as far as fictional felines, is she not?  I mean, I know Heathcliff and Garfield may have inspired TV shows, books, and novelty telephones, but you can do an entire kitchen in Hello Kitty!  (And if you like Hello Kitty, check out Musti, a little Flemish cartoon cat created in 1969.  Musti cartoons dubbed in English were on Pinwheelback in the '80s.) Little Sis used to love watching Hello Kitty's Furrytale Theater on Netflix.  She has one DVD to tide her over, but she doesn't watch it as often now.  She used to do a hilarious Catnip impersonation, too.

My husband made sure she discovered the 1984 Heathcliff series on Netflix.  I can't hear the theme song without picturing my childhood babysitter's basement and her squishy brown sofa.

And for the record, I loved Garfield as a kiddo.  I remember Here Comes Garfield! airing for the first time when I was in kindergarten.  I loved the Christmas special and the Garfield and Friends TV series.  The comic strip?  Meh.  I think this is much funnier. And what about cats in the movies?  I admit, my favorite kitties in the movies are by Disney.  One of my favorite movies ever is The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964).

And for Hayley Mills fans, there is That Darn Cat! (1965).

When I was little, I enjoyed Saturday afternoon showings of The Cat from Outer Space (1978).

But of course, the most purr-fect kitty flick Disney put out starred a kitty named Duchess, her three darling kittens, and Abraham deLacey Giuseppe Casey Thomas O'Malley the Alley Cat.  (Yup, that was from memory.  I'm a geek, you know.)  The Aristocats (1970), by the way, recently became available on Netflix streaming.  Gotta love Scatman Crothers and Phil Harris.   (Oh, and go listen to this!)

Had enough yet?  Hey, I'm done for the week with this post, and I haven't had a chance to read anything new to tell you about.  How about some cartoons?  You can find some of my favorites here, and here, and here. And I love to sing this song to my daughters.  And while they know the song better through Laurie Berkner, here's a fun blast-from-the-past rendition of "The Cat Came Back."

Oh, so much cat goodness!  The cat's meow!  The cat's pajamas!  Like, this paper plate Halloween craft is one of my favorite cat crafts for kids ever.  And Kit Kat Clocks!  Oh my goodness, they are a post unto themselves.  Mine doesn't work anymore, unfortunately, but I still love them.  And check out this post on Apartment Therapy - whoa!  I could keep going, because more and more cat stuff I love keeps popping into my head.  It's terrible.  And I'm writing this very, very late.  I think I'm a little loopy.  This could have been several posts, but it's the end of the week, and I got nothin' left.

Merry Weekend!  Happy Reading!  Meow! (Meow, meow, meow, meow.  Meow, meow, meow, meow...) And please, chime in with your own feline favorites?  Hate cats?  Tell us why!

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Downtime (Or Here's a Bunch of Silly Pictures I Took With My Phone)

Little Sis drew this picture of the sun reading a book.  Even great big balls of gas read in our house!

I decided to empty some pictures off of my phone.  Instagram is a little addictive.  Anyhoo, here is a collage of some of the random things I photographed just this month with my not-so-smart little smart phone.  I start a new play next week, so I'll be working on memorizing lines soon.  And Big Sis starts selling Girl Scout Cookies at the beginning of February, so we will be pretty busy!  I feel I need to document all our downtime while we have it, I guess.

Top Row: 1. Katie, surrounded by books; 2. Book garland (inspired by this) for an upcoming baby shower; 3. The girls are loving The Brady Bunch on Me-TV; 4. Is it bad that I eat stove-popped popcorn every freakin' night?; 5. Little Sis and her giant guitar.  Second Row: 1. Music for Reading (I love this album cover); 2. I wore my Green Bay shirt two Saturdays in a row.  Alas, the good luck only worked the first Saturday; 3. Little Sis's foot and the Pinkalicious Teeny Tiny Pinky Library; 4. Big Sis will start selling Girl Scout Cookies again on February 2nd!; 5. my coffee socks.  Third Row: 1. Do Unto Otters (I read it to Big Sis's class yesterday); 2. Pirate Daddy; 3. Pirate Olivia and some Littlest Pet Shop stowaways; 4. Little Sis up to something; 5. Big Sis looking sweet.  Fourth Row: 1. Playing Just Dance 4; 2. I poached an egg!!!!; 3. a walrus made in pre-K; 4. Froggy and Lamby had a tea party; 5. pirate buddies!.  Bottom Row: 1. Saying goodbye to a gingerbread house; 2. pretty books; 3. my beloved saddle shoes; 4. Little Sis makes Ivy & Bean look CRAZY!!!; 5. Oddfellow's Orphanage.

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Ivy + Bean Paper Doll Play Set

We love Ivy & Bean.  Did you know that?  I mentioned it here...  and here...   I have a Pinterest board, too.  If you still haven't read any Ivy & Bean, well, they are two neighbor girls who thought they didn't like each other, but become best friends anyway.  Bean hates to read.  She's loud, tomboyish, and energetic.  Ivy is a reader, a dreamer, and she tends to let her imagination run wild.  Put them together, and all kinds of shenanigans ensue!  We read all nine books aloud together this summer and into the fall, and they had us in stitches.  Now Big Sis is excited, because some of her friends are starting to read the series.  And Little Sis has explained the characters to her four-year-old best friend, so that they can pretend to be Ivy & Bean on play dates.  Big Sis received a lot of Ivy & Bean goodies for her birthday, including the Ivy & Bean Paper Doll Play Set. 

Now we have a second set of dolls, courtesy of Chronicle Books!  I entered a contest on their blog to win a different book.  Well, Stephanie at Chronicle was awesome enough to throw in two more gifts for the girls, and one of those gifts was the doll set!  No fighting over what scene they want to enact!  (Which may or may not be from the books - Little Sis likes to make up her own Ivy & Bean stories.)  Now they each have a set of dolls to dress and pose.

This picture did not turn out well.  I wouldn't have included
it, except Bean's expression seems to reflect the one on
my face when I saw the photo quality.
The dolls are not actually paper.  Do you remember Colorforms?  (If you don't, I have a Pinterest board!)  I was a Colorform freak as a child, and these are the same concept - vinyl clings.  There are two dolls, with standees.  The folding background is Ivy's bedroom on one side and Bean's backyard on the other.  Then there are sheets of clothes, costume pieces, props, and silliness!

(The girls' sets are already a little mixed up.  That's the reason for the duplicate pages.  Oops.)

Ivy's room is my favorite.  Look at the division lines on her floor!  Just like in the books!

Ivy & Bean Paper Doll Play Set
Based on the books by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sophie Blackall.
Chronicle Books, 2011.

For more Ivy & Bean-related goodness, check out the following websites:

Annie Barrows
Sophie Blackall
Ivy & Bean at Chronicle Books
Ivy & Bean on Facebook

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Sunshine in January

I find myself craving yellow lately.  No snow meets a dull brown winter.

I'm taking in the yellows in my house.

Let the sunshine in.

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Obsessive Nostalgia Disorder Monday: Serendipity Books

I think I was in the first grade.  That sounds about right.  My beautiful godparents, Bob and Eileen, gave me a sweet little paperback book called Little Mouse on the Prairie.  The story was about a little mouse named Tweezle-Dee, who would only work, work, work, while the other little prairie mice would only play, play, play.  Of course, winter arrives and only the industrious Tweezle-Dee has anything stored for the harsh season.  But the other mice have something to share with her, too:  the importance of play.  And the art!  The art was so beautiful.  Look at this little mouse:

Little Mouse on the Prairie by Stephen Cosgrove, illustrated by Robin James.
Price Stern Sloan, 1978.  (2000 reprint)

My family became big-time Serendipity book collectors.  We had stacks of these books.  Each one featured gorgeous illustrations and a neat little moral.

Time passed, my godparents died, and we grew older.  At some point, we moved.  And some of the books have been located, but most have not.  And it's true, some of them probably fell apart, as we had a tendency to read them over and over again.

When I started working at a bookstore in 2000, I tried to order and replace several of my beloved Serendipity books.  There were reprints.  I was able to replace Little Mouse on the Prairie and Dragolin.  

But my collection has become so tiny.  I know I have more than this even now - Big Sis asked me, "Where's the book about the big red guy?"  She meant The Wheedle on the Needle.  I don't know where that one has disappeared to.  Sigh.  (Although, it appears there is a 35th anniversary hardcover available new!)

Both Stephen Cosgrove, the author of the Serendipity books, and the illustrator, Robin James, have websites.  Robin James has an EStore for collectors.  There are quite a few titles available through used book sites, such as Better World Books, as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Dragolin.  Price Stern Sloan, 1984.  (1995 reprint)

Leo the Lop, Tail Three.  Price Stern Sloan, 1986.

Tee-Tee.  Price Stern Sloan, 1983.

Grampa-Lop.  Price Stern Sloan, 1981.

The moral was always stated in verse on the last page.
Pish-Posh.  Price Stern Sloan, 1986.

By the way, my favorite was Grampa-Lop, followed by the first Leo the Lop.  When I was nine, my sister and I both got French lop bunnies, Pierre (mine) and Nicole (my sister's).  They grew to be gigantic creatures that chewed through their hutch and made their grand escape into our suburban neighborhood four years later.  Au revoir.

While researching the books a bit, I discovered that the first book, Serendipity, was made into a Japanese anime in 1983!  Serendipity the Pink Dragon was dubbed into English and released on home video in 1989.  I haven't watched it yet, but someone has put it on YouTube.  Just when I begin to regret living in the internet age, I find lost childhood treasures I never even knew existed.  Thanks, internet.

Or as my husband just said:

"It was serendipitous that you found that."

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