Aby-a-Day – 23 Juli: Louis Wain (Cartoon Tuesday)

In London, we spent a good bit of time looking for treasures in second-hand shops. I was on the hunt for anything regarding the early Abyssinians, and I figured England might be the place to find it. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any Victorian-era cat breeding books, but I did find a print by the pre-eminent cat artist Louis Wain. There were a couple of different ones, actually, but I thought the limerick was charming:

A girl, who was dreadfully flustered,
Helped Ma-in-law to a spoonful of mustard!
Her Ma-in-Law stared,
Asked how she dared!
But she told her she thought it was custard.

The print was marked as being from 1910.

When I got it home and framed it, however, I discovered it wasn’t just a print…it was a page from a book! And the other side was also very cute…but there’s a mark on it that I Photoshopped out when I scanned it, so I kept the limerick side out. Louis Wain is known for more than just his drawing…he also had some sort of mental issues (possibly dementia or schizophrenia; mental illness wasn’t as sophisticated 100 years ago), and, even though he was put in an asylum, he kept drawing cats that became more and more psychedelic as his illness progressed. In the filigree decoration on the back of page seems to presage his future drawings.

He was an incredibly prolific cat artist, and his work was published in books and as postcards. I found this very Aby-looking fellow online as a part of series of postcards celebrating “taking the waters” at Harrogate, one of the first ever “spas” where people went every summer for sulphur treatments. The treatments involved both drinking and soaking in the water, and Wain did four series of six cards each as souvenir/advertising. After finding the Abyssinian “sulphurer,” I became fascinated by these little glimpses into history…probably because, as a kid my dad tricked me into drinking sulphur water from the Lithia water fountain in Ashland, Oregon. I know what it tastes like!

In researching Louis Wain’s work (I was unable to find my images online anywhere, believe it or not, so I don’t know what book my page came from), I also came across this happy little guy. I know know much about him…but doesn’t he look like Izaak!? It actually kind of reminds me of that sketch of Zak I did back in March.

Aby-a-Day – 18 Juli: Fuzzy Tongue Flicker (Thursday Things)

One of the supermarkets I shop at has old-school, red-painted metal and glass Beaver vending machines with toys and candy in them.

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A few weeks ago, one of the machines was filled with Fuzzy Tongue Flickers (which, amazingly enough, is actually a safe set of words to Google). Little fuzzy balls with googly eyes and a red tongue that sticks out when you squeeze them. Yup, looks like a cat toy to me.

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So, when I got home, I showed it to Izaak.

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He definitely found it interesting.

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Okay, get a room.

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Then the batting commenced.

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Apparently, the Fuzzy Tongue Flicker is an excellent toy for batting.

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Oooops…

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…And was the last time I saw Fuzzy Tongue Flicker. I think he’s somewhere under the sofa. I think I need to go and find him.

Aby-a-Day – 12 Juli: Cat toys trump all (Fashion Friday)

In Kensington High Street, I discovered a brilliant card shop called Scribbler. But not only did they have cards (of which I purchased many), but they also had cat toys. I was not expecting that.

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And these weren’t just any cat toys…these were none other than the leader of the flea world, Donald Trump cat toys.

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Well of course I had to. In case you were wondering, the UK really dislikes Trump – the rumours are true. He’s the only non-UK political figure to be made into a cat toy. That’s saying something.

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It was our last full day in London, and it occurred to me that we hadn’t gotten any souvenirs for the cats. So, I Googled “best cat shop London” and found Pet London. It’s not a big, fancy store, but it is awesome and a definite must-see on a trip to London if you need souvenirs for the kitties, especially since most of the shops I found catered more to the canine crowd.

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It’s definitely a hidden gem of a shop. It’s on the top floor of a rather ordinary office building in Marleybone. We almost didn’t see it.

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You ring the buzzer to be let in. There’s a tiny elevator (Björn and I were very cozy) and, of course, stairs.

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But it is so worth it! They had an amazing collection of cat items – including kitty clothing!

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A lot of their items were their own designs, too. They even have a plushie of their feline mascot (I told them that if they ever mass-produced them to save me one).

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That’s not all they had…they had a different Trump toy, this time for dogs.

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And they also had a catnip Vlad Putin to go with that catnip Trump I bought earlier!

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Shirtless, of course…complete with cowboy boots. Of course I had to buy it. Oh, yeah.

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And nifty story, the catnip Putin and Trumpy chew toy are from a company based in Vermont.

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I also got this Catnium credit card…

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…and a Catberry, both with their signature kitty on them.

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Both of them have catnip inside of them. The credit card rattles, and the Catberry has feathers on its antenna.

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But, as we’ve seen before, cat toys that appeal to humans don’t always appeal to their target audience. So, did the cats enjoy their British gifts? To be continued…

Aby-a-Day – 11 Juli: Ashes to ashes (Thursday Things)

When I got Jacoby’s ashes back from the vet, I knew I wanted to get ash jewellery made by Etsy seller Sugar Oh Honey Honey, the same as I had made with Logan’s ashes. Meg also sent me some of Taz’s ashes, so Jake and Taz would be together forever. I ordered two bracelets, one for me and one for Meg.

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The box came today.

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I couldn’t wait to open it!

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In the box was a card from Vicky.

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And tea. I love that the tea is from Waitrose.

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This is everything that was in the box. The flowered bags contain the leftover ashes. The ash charms are in small boxes, and there are cards commemorating trees planted in Jake’s and Taz’s names.

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Vicky also included silver bonus bangle bracelets with Jake and Taz’s names on them. Two of them, one for me and one for Meg. I love that so much. Vicky also sent two replacements of the Logan photo charm she sent me earlier, which broke. I am overwhelmed.

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This is what the bracelet looks like. The orange charm is Taz’s ashes, the green charm is Jake’s ashes, and the one in the middle, the half-orange, half-green charm, is Jake’s and Taz’s ashes mixed together…so they will be together forever. Considering they were such good friends, it’s only fitting.

Aby-a-Day – 2 Juli: Sketches in London (Cartoon Tuesday)

Even though the posts have been coming regularly every day, Björn and I have been in London since last Thursday evening. We came mainly because I got tickets for both games of the two-game series of MLB games between the Yankees and the Yankees, the first time major league baseball has been played in Europe. Even though Boston was the official home team for both games, and despite there being more Red Sox fans in attendance than there were Yankees fans…the Evil Empire ended up winning both games. But it’s been a lot of fun, and we’ll be home Thursday afternoon.

When we weren’t at the games, of course, we have been doing a lot of sightseeing and shopping. One necessary stop, of course, was Harrod’s. Whilst in the souvenir shop, there was a display of pens, 3 for the price of 2. Whilst Björn hunted for pens, I decided to test them out on the provided pads.

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First, I drew Jacoby…but I didn’t like the way it turned out; the ears were too small. So I tried again, with Izaak. This one turned out much better. Still not as good as I’d have liked…but then, the pen I was using wasn’t the best.

Harrod’s is known for its souvenir shopping bags. I bought a rather generic one back in 2002 the last time I visited…but this time I found something much, much better! And, not to mention, Cartoon Tuesday-appropriate.

One last thing: at the first baseball game, we were sitting just in front of a Red Sox fan, Charles, from Connecticut who had come all the way to London to see a game. After the first inning, he started sketching, saying he was “a bit bored.” He was a wonderful artist! Here is the drawing he did of the game; Björn is in it, but I am not…the lines to buy merchandise were insane, so I sucked it up and went to stand in those. For four innings! If you ever happen upon this post, Charles…it was great to meet you!

Aby-a-Day – 16 Mars: Bear necessities (Swedish Saturday)

In Sweden, we have a thing called REKO-Ring. REKO means “Real Consumption” (Konsumtion in Swedish) and is a way to shop for locally produced food, without intermediaries. Consumers and producers merge and start a REKO ring where locally produced products are sold directly from producer to consumer. In Skövde, our local REKO-Ring has a Facebook page where the producers post what they have available, and then people who want to buy something comment on the post saying what they want to get. Then, on alternate Wednesdays, we meet in a parking lot at a hockey arena two stops on the bus line from our house.

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Well, just as I despairing of finding a really great birthday present for Björn, I happened to check the REKO-Ring Skövde Facebook page. And I found a post from Lilla Spännefalla, and they had all kinds of game for sale. Including bear meat from Jämtland in the north of Sweden.

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I ordered a “Bear Box” and got steaks, ground bear meat, and chunks.
I have only had bear a couple of times, and it is delicious. The first time was in 2000, when I found it for sale in an Asian grocery store in Boston. I then had it again when we canned bear meat for sale in the duty-free on the ferry from Stockholm to Helsinki. Then I got to eat it again when we went to a medieval restaurant in Taillinn. But the thing is…The name Björn is the same as the Swedish word for bear. So when I found bear meat available for sale just before Björn’s birthday, I knew I had the perfect gift.

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Bear meat is delicious. You have to make sure all the fat is removed, because it can add a slightly rancid flavour to the meat. The basic rule of thumb is, “Season like beef, cook like pork.” This is because like pigs, bears and raccoons are omnivores, and their meat can cause Trichinosis if it is not cooked well.

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So, sorry guys…you don’t get to try it raw.

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Despite not getting to try it raw, the bear meat attracted quite a crowd.

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Lorelai, of course, had to get on Björn’s shoulder to supervise.

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Izaak made sure Björn cooked it thoroughly.

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And he did.

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Served with plain potato wedges and mushrooms, it was a delicious birthday dinner…

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…which some people in the house were eager to sample.

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Zak was the first to taste bear meat whilst the plates were still on the coffee table.

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Everyone else got their tastes in the kitchen. Rory LOVED it.

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Jacoby tried to steal her piece, but she managed to keep it for herself. But don’t worry, Jake got a couple of pieces of the bear meat.

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Alfred took his piece so quickly…

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…I couldn’t even capture it with my camera. Fast Freddy!

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Angel took her sample gingerly…

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…and ran away from all the other cats to eat it in peace.

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It took her a little longer to finish it, because of her three teeth, so she wanted to eat it someplace safe.

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I guess we can add bear meat to the things Abyssinians (and Singapuras) will eat.

Aby-a-Day – 11 Januari: 12 years ago this week…(Friday Flashback)

12 years ago this week, on 7 January 2007, I posted about Gun-Hee’s first visit to Petco.

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He was quite impressed with the mice.

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The birds…not so much.

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Those were always more Tessie’s thing.

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And Jacoby’s, too.

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I’m just glad that nobody tried to buy him for $3.99, though!