The Antique Cat

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I always like to look at old children’s books and juvenile fiction given the opportunity. Pictorama readers know that I enjoy early chapter books that would be called young adult fiction today. (There are the posts devoted to girl detective Judy Bolton, Honey Bunch and of course several devoted to The Camp Fire Girls, Red Cross and Ranch Girls. A smattering of those can be found here, here and here or search the site for books.) And I have written about some of my childhood favorites, including one illustrated by the great Garth Williams called Push Kitty (post here) which reminds me a bit of this volume. Still, it is rare that a true children’s book that I had no prior knowledge of zooms into a place in my heart as this one has. It is great for kids but a winner for the cat lovers too.

The illustrated cover which my copy does not have.

I stumbled across this title while searching for information on another one on Goodreads. The description was appealing and on a whim I purchased a (much) used library copy, sans cover and with a heavily taped spine, (stamped throughout as from the School of the Japanese Martyrs, Leavenworth, Minnesota!) for a nominal amount. With an unexpected trip to my mom in New Jersey and other pressing life matters I didn’t have a chance to read it until last night and it is a gem! I can only say I am sorry I didn’t know it when I was a kid, it would have been a favorite in rotation and my parents would have loved it too.

Solomon in the store window at night entertaining passersby.

The story is a simple one – a skinny stray (all black) cat is taken in by the owner of an antiques shop. It is told from the cat’s point of view and he has some simple adventures – most involve his love of eating fish – and all ends well with him installed as the beloved master and mascot of the establishment. An antique store makes for an interesting setting for cat adventures – while fear of breaking fragile items is mentioned, claw paws and scratching are not. However his nemesis ultimately is an antique doll who receives too much of his mistress’s attention and affection. Fortunately his human loves him above all else and forgives some minor feline transgressions.

Undeniably great cat poses!

The all black protagonist of our story, Solomon (we are not told how he acquired his moniker), looks like my own Blackie and the early drawings of him as a street cat sadly corresponding to our boy recovering (shaved and thin) from his recent stint of illness. (No mention of black cats and bad luck are mentioned and Bradbury gets points for me with this.) Solomon progresses to shining glory although I guess some of his battle scars around the ears and whatnot remain as badges of feline honor.

I easily could have found this book as a child. The copyright in this edition, the first, is 1945. It was published by The John Winston Company of Philadelphia and Toronto and the copyright notes that it was also copyrighted in Great Britain (Dominions and Possessions as well) and in the Philippines. It was written by Bianca Bradbury with drawings credited to Diana Thorne and Connie Moran.

Front papers.

Bradbury was born in New Milford, Connecticut in 1908. A brief online bio outlines that as a young wife she published verse and short pieces in magazines and eventually, after her sons were born her worked morphed into children’s books and ultimately into young adult chapter books. She evidently wrote realistically about the issues of the day for kids in those later books, not balking at difficult subjects. This book and that bio intrigues me enough to look into some of her other books. (One Kitten Too Many may be where I start, but I will look for the longer ones as e-publications perhaps.) She was prolific and wrote 46 books in her 40 year career.

Solomon thinking back on his stray cat compatriots!

Meanwhile, Diana Thorne gets top illustrator billing here and she deserves it. Her cat illustrations are perfect. It seems she is best known for her illustrations of dogs (these seem to be well known and collected), but she certainly lived amongst cats as the poses are spot on for us cat lovers. Her illustrations are pitch perfect and absolutely put the story over. While her illustrations and drawings are widely available on the internet, there is little biographical information about her. It seems, oddly, that she was either born in Odessa, Ukraine, or as she was later to claim, on a ranch in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in 1895 (d. 1965) – her love and knowledge of animals would argue some time on a ranch I think. Her work is collected in numerous museums in the United States and Great Britain including the Smithsonian.

Something “fishy” about this doll…

The other illustrator credited, Connie Moran, seems to have teamed up with Thorne on a number of similar illustrated children’s books. I can only assume that Thorne was only interested in the animals and left the humans (and in this case some antique furniture) to Moran. She is from Chicago, born in 1898 and dies in 1964 so she and Thorne are contemporaries. Her illustrations are, for me, more commonplace and would be forgettable without the Thorne cats among them.

Solomon loves his dish of fish.

The Antique Cat is much shorter than May Sarton’s The Fur Person, (you can find that post here), but reminds me of it in tone and the way it is told from the cat’s perspective. It is a very worthy entry into cat related literature and certainly deserves a place in the Pam’s Pictorama library.

Blackie this morning. Hopefully on the road to recovery.

A (Felix) Cat Book

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I’ve actually been in possession of this slim volume for a few years since purchasing it on eBay. I think it went to the shelf and somehow never made its Pictorama debut. But I was emailing about all things Felix with a fellow Felix-o-file and dug it out to show him. I have not seen it around much, but some digging shows that you can currently acquire a copy if you are willing to pay up. My copy is inscribed twice. The first is in a childish pencil scrawl which, oddly, reads, Elizabeth Butler, 1021 Craggmont. The other, in a neat pen, To Martha, from Mabel Crowe. Neither is dated.

Titlepage, Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

It is a somewhat odd book. To start with, across the front it announces that it was Published by Harper & Brothers – Established 1817. A quick check and Harper & Brothers, which started life as J. & J. Harper publishing in 1817 (brother Jay and John at the helm) until more brothers from the clan joined and the name changed in 1833 to recognize them. Then it changed again in 1962 and became Harper & Row, before later finding its 21st century moniker, Harper Collins. However, while new printing methods made them a leading publisher of books and textbooks, the influence of the famed Harper’s Magazine could evidently be felt through their publishing empire and its influence is felt in this volume.

Felix himself travels under an American passport and Harpers a US publisher, however the author is British essayist, E. V. Lucas, giving this something of the feel of a British product like one of their comics annuals. While this Felix volume was published in 1927 there is an earlier, 1902, version which has different and more traditional cat illustrations by someone named H. Officer Smith and in fact published in Britain. The illustrations have a whiff of Louis Wain to them.

The earlier version of the book with illustrations by H. Officer Smith. Not in Pictorama collection.

Lucas was a lifelong Punch author whose prodigious output of essays, commentary, verse, plays and was legendary in his day. His biography is sprinkled with references to hobnobbing with friends Barrie, A.A. Milne, Arthur Conan Doyle and the likes of his day, playing cricket and billiards. He has written the copy in simple verse with a sly eye to the beloved tricks, maneuvering and manipulation of cats.

Our volume (ostensibly illustrated by Pat Sullivan who signed each illustration, however we’ll assume it is of course Otto Messmer ready at the dip pen) is a slim one at about 30 pages, writing on each left side and illustration on the right. Felix takes on the role of a sort of every cat persona rather than doing a star turn as his famous film self here – although he seems to have some of the Felix wiliness and trouble-making charm as played out in the pictures.

The drawings show Felix in fine fetter and I can only imagine that for a pro like Messmer it didn’t take him long. However his skill shows in making every line count for maximum entertainment and raises it to the level of a Pictorama worthy Felix investment.

Ed. Note: After this was posted @judd_kid and @tomatitojose sent word that they think it was drawn by Dana Parker who drew many of the Felix theater posters and advertising art! Fact for the day!

Tooting My Horn

Pam’s Pictorama Post: It is a first day of vacation Felix party post today! This splendid item came in the door just as I was leaving for Denver on a business trip so I hardly had time to even look it over. As it happens I had lost a more or less identical one in an auction on eBay a few days before I saw this one – the first one went for a whole lot more so maybe I was the only one bidding who saw this version.

I wish I knew more about this horn. I have seen perhaps one or two others over time but they are not very common. He’s made of a sort of cardboard-y paper mâché-esque stuff and the end you toot is a light wood of some sort. A few years ago I wrote about a black cat Halloween horn I found, it too had a wooden end. (That post can be found here and it has a funny few seconds of Cookie reacting to the sound of my blowing it!) The sound of this item is remarkably similar, although that horn was somehow more substantial in design.

Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Because the poof of air comes out Felix’s mouth he looks like he is frowning or yelling – an angry Felix? I don’t know why the string is there – it is on all the few I have seen. His ears, a light cardboard paper are bent and are a clear weak spot in the design and admirable really that they have lasted all this time.

I can only say that I would have liked ringing, let’s say, 1926 in with this fellow, but instead I blow it in tribute to the first day of a much needed vacation here at Deitch Studio.

Meanwhile, for those of you who have been following the saga over the past week or so we here at #teamblackie are pleased to report that our poor puss continues his recovery and is eating more. Hopefully he will start to gain some weight, but he is bright eyed again and fighting Kim hard getting his gloppy meds administered so he must be feeling better. We intend to rest and recreate with the kits and each other. Ice cream will be eaten. I promise to keep you all up to speed with the highlights.

Westward Bound

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I am starting this post while on a plane to Denver. Some Pictorama followers know I sent an advance post yesterday, written last week. Today I am using my plane leisure time to share a missive for tomorrow. (I don’t want anyone to have to face Sunday morning without a Pictorama post!)

Those of you who do the full Monty and follow me on social media know that it was a tough week. Our beloved Blackie spent five days in kitty ICU for a diabetic episode which appears to have been brought in by an underlying infection – maybe a UTI or pancreatitis. He was, in the words of one friend, a VERY sick kitty.

I am pleased to report that with the amazing work of the vets at the Animal Medical Center he pulled through and we were able to bring him home last night.

Vet’s office when visiting Blackie the other night. He kept looking for a way to make a break for it.

He roamed our 600 square feet with wide eyed awe. He gave me head butts and purrs as the familiarity enveloped him and he relaxed into it. Blackie was one happy cat! Kim gave him a bowl of tuna and he tucked in for his first real meal in days although he was only able to consume about a third of a can.

After couch time with us he retired to bed with Kim and spent the entire night tucked and purring, between us (moving to occasionally perch on top of one of us) much as he had nine years ago on the day we got him. After a day of his hiding in a scary new place I woke to find a tiny kitten Blackie sound asleep between us in the middle of the night. Last night his little engine went purr all night, rising occasional and then falling to a reassuring rumble.

Blackie from several months ago.

He came home with an alarming number of medications and devices however. I feel awful that I had to leave it all to Kim at 5:30 am when the car service arrived today take me to the airport. It was very hard to leave them this morning and I have checked in with Kim several times. Poor Mr. Blackie has a long way to go, but we’re hoping for the best.

Nonetheless, off to La Guardia I went for an early flight to Denver. I agreed to be here at this conference for work months ago and little did I know how hard it would be. But I am pleased that with some of La Guardia’s terminals finally complete at least I no longer waded through puddles, endless broken paths and construction. A cheerful Indian man was my driver and he kept me from getting weepy about leaving home.

Sunset and incoming storm tonight in Denver.

The hotel is an enormous family resort with a Princess/Pirate theme going on. I landed in a heap only to find not only was my room not ready (I was early and had expected that), but the final night of my stay was mysteriously missing. Discouraging. I called Kim and then parked in various locales to take care of some work calls – I was minus wifi and was frustrated at not being able to post my Pictorama until late.

The resort is on a desert plot of land with not much visible in any direction – a little like landing on the moon. I walked outside briefly to get the lay of the land for a run tomorrow and was disappointed that it was pretty much concrete all around. Someone mentioned trails across the street so we’ll see. More to come, but now a nap!

Matching

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I had to ferret around the apartment this morning as I had no post in mind having lost a number of auctions lately. (And later today I will be scribbling advance posts to keep you all in Pictorama while I travel to Denver on business next Saturday!) However, I reached deep into the Pictorama archive and pulled out this rather wonderful little gem. It was a gift years ago from Richard Greene, match collector extraordinaire, who had us as guests for a weekend at his home when Kim agreed to do a con in Philly at his request. Richard and his wife live in a house chock-a-block full of interesting bits and pieces he shared with us and they were the very most generous hosts.

Fellow cartoonist (the sadly now late) Jay Lynch was also there for the weekend and it was the only time I ever spent more than an evening with him. I forget the exact year, but it was summer and terribly hot like it is now. The con was in an old, wooden, un-air conditioned building and I remember spending the day stationed thoughtfully in front of a fan.

Richard gave Kim a hat he still wears (if I remember he did advertising lay out for a living) when not in the old Stetson I gave him, and Richard gave me this splendid matchbook from his glorious collection.

Front. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Kernel Lew Mercur’s (Original) Nut Club is pretty darn interesting (and colorful!) in its own right. The back promises dinners, dancing, and laffs. Located in Miami Beach (Alton Road at Dade Blvd.) it was open all night. Cuisine by Delmonico is noted along the top fold. Mr. Mercur’s image, or what we offered as such, is on the front in top hat with a carnation and musical notes.

Verso. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Not surprisingly, there are few tracks on Mr. (Kernal) Mercur or the Nut Club, although I did find a reference to it in a book about the bygone hey day of eating establishments of Miami (Lost Restaurants of Miami by Seth Bramson) and it would seem that the Nut Club was among a proliferation of Jewish cafeteria style restaurants and delis that became popular in Miami at the time. Bramson notes that Mercur did indeed preside over the restaurant in a top hat.

Other restaurants of the time (1940’s?) and place included The Five O’Clock Club (acquired by Martha Reye and which made it into the 1970’s) and Bill Jordan’s Bar of Music, an eponymous piano bar. Interesting that these establishments liked to label themselves as bars and clubs rather than restaurants or cafeterias. (And Cuisine by Delmonico doesn’t much scream Jewish deli to me either.)

Full inside view. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

For me of course it is all about the inside of this matchbook which reveals (voila!) the matches, lined up like a picket fence, emblazoned with a black Tom cat atop a fence with a favorite wheeze, Ya gotta make calls…if you want results, as the other black cat and kittens march below. Devoted and early Pictorama readers will remember a post I did devoted to a celluloid match safe with the same saying. (That post can be found here.) I used to have a postcard with the same image pinned up in my office at the Met.

Celluloid match safe. Pams-Pictorama.com Collection.

Not a spot on this matchbook goes undecorated and the inside cover goes on to assure the visitor, be entertained at the funniest and screwiest place outside an asylum, yes it’s Kernel Lew Mercur’s Nut Club. Never a cover charge! It gives the exact address (1827 Alton Boulevard) and a phone number (5-9952) for reservations tucked behind the matches. At the bottom it says, We’re Never Too Busy to Say Hello! Who wouldn’t want to go and nosh a knish? But most of all, who wouldn’t pocket these matches? So glad somebody did!

Girls, Chickens and Kitties

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: I feel like it has been awhile since I have had a straight ahead photo post and this is a worthy entry, just in as grabbed off of eBay recently. (This is the first of several – there has been some action on the photo purchase front.) The card was never sent and there is nothing written on as clues about when it was taken or about the girls in it. Their clothes and hair make me think early 20th century.

The girls are so lovely with their pretty matching cotton dresses with big collars and cuffs, their hair pinned up loosely. Each clutches a kitty and a chicken which by any way of thinking is an odd combination, however all the animals seem unperturbed (despite one squirming puss) by this. The chickens actually seem pretty cheerful and sit up contentedly, fluffy and alert, in the arms of the girls.

The cat with his or her back to us (stripes and spots) looks like they would prefer a firmer grasp, but the proximity to our feathered friends does not seem to be especially on his or her mind. The other puss, a nice tuxie, seems fairly content, less squirming there and looking lovingly at the little girl holding her.

My guess is that these are all special pets of the girls and are used to spending a fair amount time together. What lucky little girls to have such nice playmates! It appears like quite the idyll. I think I would have liked tea parties with pet chickens and kitties as a tot.

The girls appear to be twins and fairly identical from what we see here. They look very happy with their pets in this sort of riotous garden, roses at their feet. Sadly the photograph is a bit overexposed (I have done what I can with some electronic magic to improve the quality some) fading out entirely into the sunlight at the top. The edges of the image are soft and add to the dreamy quality of the image and gently yank us back into the pleasant world of this long ago summer day.

Match

Pam’s Pictorama Post: I have a strange relationship to matches. I tend to burn myself on lighters and cardboard matches often fail me. I would have made a very lousy smoker – or perhaps conversely my skills would have improved over time. It seems unlikely at this age that we will ever know. Perhaps it comes of being a well behaved child who accepted her parental advice not to play with matches – I didn’t and as a result I never really got the hang of using them.

Among other things, living with a gas stove means the occasional lighting of a pilot light and at some point I invested in a box of wooden matches for this and other fire lighting jobs. The tiny wooden sticks have a timeless quality. As you strike one you have the comfort of knowing you could easily have done exactly the same 100 years ago.

Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

This nifty black cat stands by a pot which I believe was designed to hold the spent matches more than those awaiting use, although I guess you could have gone either way. It entered Deitch Studio earlier this week from Great Britain. I was in East Hampton for work on Fourth of July weekend when I noticed it in an idle IG scroll of a jewelry account I frequent, @therubyfoxes. I was in the middle of too much to execute the purchase and asked Mia to hold it for me and I was pleased to buy it later – and even happier with it when it arrived.

Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

It shows pleasant signs of some wear from years of use and probably sitting near a stove. I would describe it as being made of pot metal. Meanwhile, it’s a fang-y black cat if you look carefully, exclaiming for attention, mouth open. He or she sports a yellow bow around the neck. Kitty’s back is arched, although not really threatening, and tail is looped over on his or her back.

In a way it would be nice if this could sit in my kitchen, but there is no space in that crammed corner for such an item to be displayed effectively. Instead it joins the cat congregation on the shelves in the living room, matchless, although perhaps eventually it could find a place on my desk and graduate to paperclips instead. Either way he’s another great black cat find.

British Black Cats

Pam’s Pictorama Photo Post: Kicking off the holiday weekend with another lucky black cat post. I am, for the first time in several years, typing this out on a laptop while seated on a bus for work, in this case heading for the final concert of our season in East Hampton.

I’m not traveling with the orchestra – who are making a long trip in from Ontario, I think, and out to Long Island tomorrow – but instead I am on the Hampton Jitney which, for those of you not familiar with it, is a sort of luxe bus experience from Manhattan out to the Hamptons. (That is if a bus can actually be luxe – I happen to be of the opinion maybe not so much, but I am a bit of a bus hater.)

I myself would have probably opted for the train on this holiday weekend, but easier for my host this way so we are crawling along the LIE as I write. (In the end I could have flown to Paris in the amount of time it took me to land in Wainscott from the Upper Eastside today.)

View from the lovely home I am staying in, East Hampton.

So, now, onto the the kitties. This is an interesting early photo which I purchased on eBay recently. It did come from Britain. It  originated Britain (a land where black kitties are celebrated as lucky, unlike my own native land) and is early but with no indication of age. It is a cabinet card, mounted on ancient faded bit of cardboard and obviously it had the misfortune to spend some time in the sun and we can see those fade marks as well.

However, for me it doesn’t take away from the extravagant portrait of these two kits which was done with great care. Charles XII and Nigel the Raven are carefully posed, to the extent you can pose a cat. If you look closely you will notice that kitties are carefully tethered on leashes. No kitty chaos in the studio with cats on the loose.

This portrait was the produce of J. Russell & Sons, Photographers and they are qualified as By special appointment to His Majesty The King. The studio had locations at 17, Baker Street, W 80 (?) and 13 High Street Windsor. They were active from the 1850’s through the 1940’s, quite a long run. So these were some high faluntin’ felines.

A handsome Blackie Butler basking in the sun recently. You can see a little white badge on his chest if you look carefully.

Unlike the unbelievably handsome Blackie Butler, Charles and Nigel have no visible white spots. Now, whose to say if a nice white spot couldn’t be found on the tummy of one of these pusses, or even one hidden under a leg. Kim has a theory that because people are superstitious about all black cats that almost all have had a bit of visible white bred into them. However, my mom has a boy named Beau (Beauregard Butler) who is as thoroughly black as these two cats appear to be.

Beau Butler (of the New Jersey clan) a very black kitty indeed.

I can’t say that C and N look like they are enjoying their turn in the limelight; they would very much prefer to be curled up at home in the sun on their favorite pillow – and of course they couldn’t know that I would be admiring their glossy beauty a hundred or so years later. Being cats, nor would they care.

Time

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This morning I took read my post from last Memorial Day weekend. I was in New Jersey for a concert for work. Despite being in a tent the extraordinary downpour had largely soaked us all and it had essentially been a cold and sodden mess. As it was still one of the first times I was hearing live music I more or less forgave the weather. It was also one of the first times I was seeing my mom as during the first year of the pandemic I treaded softly in the pre-vaccine, no home test days of last spring.

I had however returned to New York via ferry, somewhat exhausted from my exertions both physically and emotionally. I got up tired on Monday morning, Memorial Day, went running, fell and broke two fingers. (I wrote about it here and here.)

It was chillier, unlike this weekend which has already turned warm enough that I am puzzling through had to stay hydrated during my runs in the growing heat and humidity. I was still wearing my heavy sweatshirt when I fell – I was grateful that I thought to take it off so it didn’t need to be cut off once the huge bandage was on my hand.

Recent morning NYC run views of the East River.

Of course I thought about this while running yesterday – giving the lumpy sidewalk where I fell a jaundiced look as I went by. Falling kept me off of running for a few months. When I stopped I was running about three miles I think and it took me awhile to get back to that distance, especially since it was full on summer heat by then. The ring finger on my left hand is still recalcitrant and I think I will need to break down and have my wedding band refitted to that finger as I think that finger and the knuckle is permanently enlarged. (I had been told the swelling could take up to a year to go down.)

Cast one of three, the Urgent Care version.

Given time I run six miles now, some days cutting it short to get to an early meeting. I tend to think that is where I am topping out, at least for now, as it is hard to find the time to run longer than that four or five times a week. (Then again, it never occurred to me that I would be running that far either so who knows?)

I will focus on getting a bit faster for awhile. I have never had the urge to run fast actually which is good as I know I never will. I have a short stride for a tall person and I have always been more interested in distance, the long haul. However, I am very slow so I can pick up the pace a bit. Not killing my middle aged self in the heat is a bigger problem though and for the summer mornings I cannot get out as early as I should I need to be careful. Investigating what and how much to drink when.

The suburban version of my run which usually starts here and then heads into the wooded area at the top of this post.

Mom has had some health issues and since Thanksgiving I make more regular and longer trips to stay with her in New Jersey, vaccinated now and endlessly tested. Although I am a devoted homebody and miss Kim and the kitties, I enjoy the time with her too. (A few of the posts I have written about my time there can be found here and here and one on running in Jersey here.) Whichever place I am in I find hard to leave. It is just the way I am. Running while I am there is one of the things that grounds me though. I am a person who responds well to routine and set about creating them wherever I am.

My buddy Cash in a recent photo on a trip. Penny below, one green eye and one blue! She’s already grown since this!

One of my routines is that since Christmas I have treated myself to coming and going to Jersey via @rideswithcash, a dog and driver duo based in Monmouth County. This has allowed me to come and go at odd hours which fit into my work schedule better and generally saves some wear and tear on me. Jeff is lovely and great about making time for me. The mainstay of his business is folks going to and from the airports, although I guess there are other needs like mine too. The bonus is of course having Cash, his lovely Australian Shepard, sitting with me along for the ride. Petting that beautiful pup has soothed me through some otherwise stressful trips as I fret about mom or work.

Miss Penny has one blue eye and one green one! She’s already grown since this pic.

This spring Cash was joined by a sibling sis – Penny! Well, of course fluffy Penny is about as cute as anything could be. She flirts and plays and chews and is generally adorable. I am not sure Cash has totally bought into Penny yet, but I am sure he will over time. I haven’t made a trip with both of them yet so we’ll see about that, maybe as early as this evening.

Meanwhile, a year has brought us through an intact if somewhat abbreviated concert season at work. We will be wrapping with a final concert and surrounding events in a few weeks. Variants come and (sort of) go and attendance at events waxes and wanes accordingly although ticket sales for concerts has remained strong.

From a recent evening of Venezuelan jazz recently at Dizzy’s.

Our offices officially went to a three day in-office schedule in April. Although we try to bring everyone in on Wednesdays so we can plan meetings, it still feels very empty most days. We are still rebuilding staff which is a slow process and of course other days people might be out or taking vacation days before the end of our fiscal year. Rebooting what was our office culture is hard and I can only imagine that we need to embrace what a new version will be. We are impatient, but only time will help puzzle through that.

I wrote recently about the interviewing I have been doing recently for a myriad of open positions. (That post can be found here.) I wish I could report that the positions are all filled, but not yet to date. A newly fully staffed team will be a large step forward in creating a new work paradigm. In the short term however the interviewing process is like having another job.

A tiny Stormy here. Hopefully I will have a sighting long enough to get a new photo this weekend.

For those of you who were following the story of Stormy, the kitten mom found in her backyard a few months ago, I have news to report. (Her rescue origin post can be found here.) After gaining a bit of strength and familiarity with the house, Stormy left her lofty perch in a large dog cage where she was protected from the hustle and bustle of other kits and has joined the kitty pack in the house.

On my recent trips she has hidden herself entirely during the day and I have at best only caught a glimpse of her at times. However, she has a distinctive meow and I hear her when the lights go off at night, leading a feline rampage through the small house, up and down the stairs, skidding on the bathroom rug at the top before heading back down.

Gus in Stormy’s bed, waiting to see when she’ll be back.

Stormy’s special partner in crime is another adoptee from the backyard, a gentleman puss named Gus. Gus, who looks a bit like he is made from spare parts, has made no secret of the fact that he is quite smitten with Stormy and follows her around devotedly although her hiding even eludes him at times and I will find him waiting for her to emerge.

Well, the big news is that my mom woke up the other night to find Stormy curled up on her lap! She did not stay for pets although she evidently acknowledged mom before hopping down. It is a rather remarkable step however. I often wonder how she can be such a friendly cat, clearly used to being handled when we found her so very small and starving. Did someone have her and lose her? Put her out? We’ll never know her story, but despite my initial reticence about keeping her I am of course glad we did.

Hobo Kitty, the outdoor feline denizen of the Butler household.

So, after those updates and bits of reflection I am off for that run (early) and then packing to head to New Jersey for a few days. I have promised to get the new gas grill working and some other daughterly duties. For those of you who follow my running journal on Instagram, see you from Jersey!

Pictorama!

Pam’s Pictorama Post: This morning I sit down to write my 871st post on this blog. For those of you who follow Pam’s Pictorama you know that with little exception, posts have appeared here on Saturday and Sunday morning (some exceptions for time difference during travel, once for illness in the family) pretty much like clockwork since the summer of 2014. While there are exceptions (notes taken in advance, work travel) when they were written in advance, the general “rule” is that I write them each weekend morning before otherwise starting my day. I drink coffee, look at the window, chat with Kim while I do it – pay attention to a needy cat if necessary – while writing.

I launched Pictorama while recovering from foot surgery, bored in bed and needing a project, I thought I would use it to organize my collection of early photos. (I didn’t do that – they are still not really organized as I sit here in 2022 although it has grown like topsy.) At the time the collection was mostly photo postcards of people posing with giant stuffed Felix dolls (some above), but I have always picked up old photos from here or there. I want to publish them as a book and still hope to figure that out.

My avatar, Felix on a scooter, is oddly one I do not own although I write pretty much exclusively about my own collection. It is an Italian version of the toy I continue to chase but fall short of acquiring to date.

Pictorama immediately expanded to include my burgeoning toy collection – again, largely but not entirely devoted to Felix the Cat items from the 20’s and 30’s – my other great love. Cats are an underlying theme for both the photos and the toys. Of course there are real cats and Cookie and Blackie make routine appearances and more recent guest spots have been for mom’s cat’s, particularly Stormy and Hobo Kitty, who were just featured yesterday in a post here. I dig out memories, do light research on the background and history of objects, consider the object. It has evolved into what it is.

Over time other bits of Deitch Studio daily life slip in. Posts have been devoted to the reveal of our holiday card each year and to Kim’s extraordinary series of Valentine’s he draws for me annually. Some of his books have been launched (a two-part series on Reincarnation Stories can be found here and here) as well. Over recent years a series of posts has been devoted to my professional life, fundraising and the challenges, changes and triumphs there. Apartment life (studio apartment living before tiny houses existed) and renovation has demanded my attention and been shared with you.

Kim’s kitty portrait for Valentine’s Day this year! Pams-Pictorama.com collection.

Tales of my childhood, pets and people I have known, tend to be an underlying theme for many of the posts. I try not to repeat myself – I am sure I fail occasionally. I will just hope that a good story is worth repeating.

Working out and most recently running has become another area I devote space to. At first writing about it helped ensure I would push forward and keep it up; keep me honest. It was not an easy habit to develop and no one is more surprised than me when I started to top out at over six miles recently. Persistence pays off. Meanwhile, a year ago next week (Memorial Day) I fell and broke two fingers while running and you all had a front seat for that as well as the recovery.

A photo from my first few weeks of running.

During the first months of Covid I devoted space to redeveloping my cooking muscles, baking in particular. I probably owe you all a post about the dieting I had to do to lose that pandemic weight subsequently – running alone did not do it. Dieting has inspired fewer recipes, but I will get back to recipes. I continue to cook – soup in particular remains a favorite here.

Cheesy Olive loaf, a pandemic favorite.

This week my readership crossed the 400 mark and so I started thinking about you all. I know from the likes and comments some of you who favor certain posts. I wonder if any of you crossover to other posts now that you are here – did you start by favoring the work related posts and then discover that cats were great too? Or did you find one because of work out posts and then stay for toys? Or do you only read the ones in the areas you follow? I have found that the readers who come for the book reviews seem to have a long read around. Most of those have come via Goodreads. (My review of the children’s book The Story of Ping, found here, remains one of the most read posts, although not the most likes. That may go to a post about a tin Krak-R-Jak box that sits on my desk which can be found here.)

Many of you are in different time zones and I frequently wake in the morning to your likes and comments, or even the occasional late night ping from my phone tells me someone liked something. It is always cheerful and encouraging. Thank you! I like to hear from you.

Me with a beloved Aesop Fable doll and a nice Donald Duck, wearing a Kim Deitch t-shirt, from a past post.

At first readers came almost exclusively from Kim’s extraordinary Facebook page which I felt privileged to guest spot on each weekend. (Others find me when searching for him on the internet as well.) Early on a friend suggested the title sub-header, All Pam All the Time, and I liked it as a nod to alert folks that Pictorama, while resident here at Deitch Studio, was a distinct subset that is from my perspective. Sadly, we’ve been locked out of Kim’s Facebook page for a few months now. My own nascent page recently taking its place with Kim weighing in as he likes instead.

Pictorama led me over to Twitter and then Instagram among other outlets. Instagram became a source for jewelry, photos, toys and interesting stuff as well as numerous online friends who come from across the United States and the world. Instagram Stories is primarily a journal of my runs these days and IG is probably second only to WordPress itself for leading new folks here. (I can be found as @deitchstudio.)

A first edition

While writing of WordPress, please know that I have a love/hate relationship with it. Things morph and get changed which I never figure out, such as where the ability to add accent marks disappeared to one day. Occasionally they get harder and then much easier – such as the posting of video snippets which was quite arduous, then impossible, now easy. Links necessitated a work around, until suddenly they are possible again.

Pam’s Pictorama.com Collection.

In all fairness, WordPress offers the chance to attend online sessions where I could learn more, but life is too hectic it seems. I always mean to, but never have. Meanwhile, while having a look around today I discovered a cache of comments I don’t believe I ever saw – they were direct inquiries rather than ones tied to posts. I spent some of this morning writing to folks to apologize for the oversight. They are tucked away and hard to find however even now that I know they exist. The myriad mysteries of the site.

I hope to see you next week for post number 872. A new Felix photo is winging its way to me even as I write. Thank you again for being such a very nice audience!