Spread the Insanity, er, I Mean, Love

So I see this tonight over at Domestic Piracy and think to myself, wow, what a brilliant idea. Brilliant in the sense of moderately insane but, you know, irresistable nonetheless.

The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice. For you. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make.
- What I create will be just for you.
- It'll be done in the next 12 months.
- You have no clue what it's going to be.
- I reserve the right to do something unusual.

The catch? You have to put this in your blog as well. Pass on the love!

That's the text as it appears on Ragnar's blog. I'm now going to copy shamelessly from her, because she's a crafty ho.

She proceeds: "I'm clarifying a couple of points. Firstly the item will not necessarily be knit. I'm a crafty ho, you know, it could be...I don't know, made out of chewing gum and Popsicle sticks. I also want to point out the specification that you have to post this on your blog...that means only people who blog are eligible. I'm not running some hand-made gift charity thing here. You gots to reciprocate."

Ditto. So you want something special? Me make for you something special! Get on board now and spread the crazy-handmakey love!

23 Feb. -- Okay, okay, I promise it won't be made out of popsicle sticks. Frankly, there is a 98.3% chance it will be hand-knit, and a 97.8% chance that you will like it. Now are there any takers?


A Man Who Drew Cats

Louis Wain, artist, in the 1890s

Louis Wain (1860-1939) was an artist most well-known for his drawings of cats. He was a regular contributor to the Illustrated London News, where his first cat drawings appeared in 1886, and illustrator of over 100 children's books. Anthropomorphized drawings of animals were so popular in Victorian England that his work appeared in papers, journals, and magazines, as well as on prints, greeting cards, and picture postcards.

Wain was socially awkward, lousy with money, and experienced major tragedy early his life. He had married at 23, but his wife died of cancer three years later. Their black and white cat Peter was a close companion during her illness and subsequent passing, and Wain credited Peter with the beginning of his career.

"The Cat in His Garden"

"Which Do I Love Best?"

Although it has been widely speculated that Wain's eventual stays in mental institutions were due to schizophrenia, recent theory poses that he more likely suffered from Asperger's Syndrome.

"Wallpaper Cat"

Untitled, 1933


KIP: Knitting in Public, and Gratuitous Cat Belly

Knitting in Public

I mentioned that I met someone with whom to knit. We got together again this week, and she'd finished the project she started when last we met. It's a lace soap sack, done up in some lovely Caron's cotton. The color is a nearly edible orange sherbert shade.

Above, the yarn she's about to cast on for a facecloth to coordinate with the soap sack. I kept working on my monster hats. Nothing like going round and round in stockinette. This one uses more of my favorites from Yarn Lust: her BFL held together with her merino-tencel or with KPPPM. Mmm--yummy. Now I have three hats ready for monsterizing, meaning that they still need their ears, eyes, and mouths. I also have two bunny hats that just want some ears.

Now for Something Completely Different

Isis shows off her voluptuous belly, marked, as it is, with a white "V" for Voluptuous. Or for Vendetta. Or Victory. Or something.

A lot of cats don't like to have their bellies rubbed, but Isis and Emma both enjoy it, and Morgan will even roll on her back and let you sneak in a belly rub or two before jumping up and darting away. I always say the belly is my favorite part of the cat. Of course, I like the velvety paws a lot, too. And the nose. But the belly is a very good part of the cat.

Here Isis continues to mug for the camera; as you can see, she's quite the ham. Meanwhile, I can barely get Emma to look at the camera, and Morgan will scarcely stop moving long enough for me to get her picture.

Isis: Don't hate me because I'm beautiful.
Morgan: Actually, I was just thinking that you're a huge ham.
Emphasis on huge. So there, you big ham.


Cats on Tuesday: How to Rule the Interwebs

"If you listen real close, you can hear the interwebs laughing at you"

Ever wonder why the interwebs are overpopulated with cats? Salon took a stab at explaining it with "The Internet is made of kittens." (Thanks to Chris for noticing this article in the first place.) My take-aways: (1) we find cats to be both funny and poignant; (2) we love to anthropomorphize our feline friends; and (3) videos of cats are cheaper to make than porn. Read it for yourself.

More thoughts on why we love lolcats. Hint: it has to do with pathos and the tragedy of the human condition. And number (2), above. [And likely numbers (1) and (3) as well.]

Control-a-Cat (not to be confused with Confuse-a-Cat)

I saw this first at moderncat; it's available from ThinkGeek and Perpetual Kid, where the Control-a-Cat Remote is described like this:

Operating Instructions:

* Point remote at subject
* Push any button on the remote
* Hope for the best

No batteries required... powered by positive thinking! 8 out of 10 owners said their cats ignored it.

Morgan is ready for her close-up, Mr. DeMille.


'Tis the Day of Saint Valentine (or is it?)

"Won't I be the lucky dog if I get the Valentine I want?"

Happy Valentine's Day! ...Or, is it Lupercalia, an ancient "Roman pastoral festival, observed on February 13 through February 15 to avert evil spirits and purify the city, releasing health and fertility"?

Canis lupus

It seems as these various holidays roll around I set about looking for an illustration or two to set the mood, and discover, in the process, a blog or a website that I am surprised I haven't previously come across. Coilhouse, a self-proclaimed "love letter to alternative culture, written in an era when alternative culture no longer exists," is one such example. This category gave me an intriguing sampling of material, from a post about an online historical anatomies exhibition at NIH...

...to an elegant spine-inspired type...

...to this:
And that doesn't even include the face corsets or the 1504 iron hand prosthesis with articulated fingers.

So have a Happy Saint Valentine's/Lupercalia/Face Corset/Foot Fetish Day!

Dear Valentine: "Betcha Boots" We'd Make a Dandy "Pair"


Gobble Gobble: Finders Not Keepers

To Mr. O'Kitten's amusement, I joined the Turkey Fund last week (read on, and all will be explained) and found $1.11 in seven days. (With my mother-in-law as a founding member, how could I resist?) My walk to and from work turns out to be quite profitable, populated as it is with parking meters, bus stops, and pay phones.

And now from today's NY Daily News, it turns out that good deeds do not always go unpunished...I mean, unrecognized. I only wish my Grandma were around so I could send her the clipping--she would have appreciated the Turkey Fund on every level.

"Finders not keepers in Turkey Fund"

BY Leigh Remizowski, NY Daily News

Tuesday, February 10th 2009, 10:24 AM

WHEN CAROL Clarke started taking 2-mile walks for exercise near her Glendale home 10 years ago, she found there was an unexpected side benefit.

There was money to be made - if she kept her eyes peeled.

After years of casually picking up loose change, Clarke, 59, and her exercise partner, Magdalene Sweeney, 101, realized their found loot could be the seed for a lucrative charity.

With $40 in coins she had already picked up off the streets, Clarke started the Turkey Fund in 1999. The charity is supported by friends and family who donate money found in their day-to-day lives. Most members are parishioners of Saint Pancras Church in Glendale.

"The bigger picture is that we're helping people," said Clarke, the club's "Head Turkey."

The fund got its name because Clarke and Sweeney donated their initial spoils to a homeless shelter for a turkey dinner. Now, each October, members pool their findings and donate to various charities.

Most of the money nowadays goes to St. Margaret's parish in Flushing. They have also donated to Hurricane Katrina victims.

Members have collected $2,097 since 1999, averaging about $200 a year. The club has 28 members today. Each has a membership card and a film canister for storing coins.

Over the years, the fund has established rules that, if broken, can lead to probation or expulsion from the club.

"The rules evolved because of peoples' complaints," Clarke said.

The most controversy has been over which member receives credit for a find. The rules clearly state that kicking, punching, biting, shoving or cursing are allowed - only if the person being fought for the money is not a fellow member. One rule states that the person who bends over to pick up the money gets the credit, rather than the one who spots the dough.

And the rules aren't taken lightly. New member Pat Amato, 70, left Clarke a phone message asking whether she could accept three dimes that her husband found in the snow.

In the end, the money was deemed acceptable for donation.

Members don't get any credit for money found in a church and they must donate any money they find - coins or bills.

As long as members follow the rules, just about anything goes.

"One member stuck her hand in a public toilet bowl for three quarters," Clarke said. "That was above and beyond the call of duty."

Member Arthur Krumm, 60, said capitalizing on others' carelessness pays off. Once, he found $2.86 in a CoinStar machine at the grocery store.

He and other members have seen a decline in loose change since the advent of the MetroCard, especially at bus stops.

But members still have their methods. Sometimes Krumm deliberately parks at the back of parking lots so he can scan more ground for change.

"People walk right past pennies," Krumm said. "But I pick them up."


House-Panther Enrichment

The other evening I was watching Animal Planet with my three house panthers, and we became intrigued by a program about big zoo cats. There was a great deal of talk among the zoo experts about the importance of keeping the large felines intellectually stimulated by means of what they referred to as "enrichment." This took many forms, including bowling balls, hay, and other toys rolled in rhino urine (apparently a favourite scent); battable, shredable cardboard boxes and tubes; and tasty meat popsicle treats. It appeared that the key to enrichment was variety.

I took a quick look at our own house panthers' few toys and decided it was time for a little enrichment. I ordered a Kitty Toy Gift Pack (a real bargain, I might add), from etsy's tigerfeather and it arrived today. Then enrichment was had by all.

Kitty Feather Teaser and Threadless (yep, threadless!) Catnip Pillow (Emma's favourite).

Threadless Catnip Mouse (the blue thing in Morgan's paw) and pink Catnip Puff.



Emma couldn't get enough of the Catnip Pillow.

I can't...

...get enough...

...of this thing... *maul maul maul*

Isis plus feathers.

And then everyone needed a nice, long nap.




My sobriety date is 3 February 1996, so today is my 13th sober anniversary. Huzzah!

As on my last anniversary, it is snowing, but that's good. I like snow.

Happy Snow Day, everyone!


Speaking of waking from hibernation, it's Groundhog Day here in the U.S. of A. -- a holiday so absurd that an Australian friend to whom we described the occasion was convinced we were having a huge joke at his expense.

But oh no, my friends, Groundhog Day is indeed a real cause for celebration (or at least media attention) and no small number of men in towns across our fair land dress up in tuxedos to hold up some hefty groundhogs to the light of day and, the story goes, predict the remaining number of weeks of winter weather.

Yes, it's a strange nation.

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone!

Silent Poetry Reading in Honor of St. Brigid

Previous post. And for 2009, a favorite poem by Li-Young Lee.

This Room and Everything in It

Lie still now
while I prepare for my future,
certain hard days ahead,
when I'll need what I know so clearly this moment.

I am making use
of the one thing I learned
of all the things my father tried to teach me:
the art of memory.

I am letting this room
and everything in it
stand for my ideas about love
and its difficulties.

I'll let your love-cries,
those spacious notes
of a moment ago,
stand for distance.

Your scent,
that scent
of spice and a wound,
I'll let stand for mystery.

Your sunken belly
is the daily cup
of milk I drank
as a boy before morning prayer.

The sun on the face
of the wall
is God, the face
I can't see, my soul,

and so on, each thing
standing for a separate idea,
and those ideas forming the constellation
of my greater idea.
And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I'll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it:
My body is estrangement.
This desire, perfection.
Your closed eyes my extinction.
Now I've forgotten my
idea. The book
on the windowsill, riffled by wind . . .
the even-numbered pages are
the past, the odd-
numbered pages, the future.
The sun is
God, your body is milk . . .

useless, useless . . .
your cries are song, my body's not me . . .
no good . . . my idea
has evaporated . . . your hair is time, your thighs are song . . .
it had something to do
with death . . . it had something
to do with love.

--Li-Young Lee, from The City in Which I Love You (1990)