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March 31, 2009

Little Orphan Freddie, Part II

Following all good advice, I had intended 
to introduce Tizzy and Fred slowly. 
Best laid plans...... 
No sooner had I set the cardboard shelter 
carrier down in the apartment, out popped 
the baby! Poor Tiz. In an instant his sedate 
"only cat" life changed forever. Freddie 
immediately got into everything Tizzy thought 
was his alone. Litterbox, water bowl, napping 
spots,toys, nothing was sacred. What Fred didn't
poop in, lick or sleep in he marked with a rub 
from his little gray chin.
I heard a thunder of hoofbeats and thought, 
"Omigod, Tizzy's trying to kill the baby!!" 
Looked up to see a frantic Tizzy zoom past 
with Freddie hot on his heels.
More excitement than dear TZ had seen his 
entire life that far. At least I knew little
Fred could take care of himself.

March 30, 2009

Little Orphan Freddie, Part I

Sweet Freddie came into my life as a noisy
adorable little orphan from the Morris Animal
Shelter on Lombard St. 

I went there 6 years ago looking for a cat friend for 
3 yr old Tizzy. The kitten I originally wanted was 
already spoken for, so the volunteer led me to the 
next room. There was a great ruckus coming from 
a lower cage where an adorable bundle of gray and 
white kitten was hanging on his door with all four 
paws, yowling at the top of his lungs and sneezing.
Peeling him off the door, yowls and sneezes turned 
to loud purrs and sneezes. Love at first sight, from 
his chutzpah (chutzPAW?) to his little "ink smeared" 
nose and gray chin. Only his not so cute name, 
Carson, had to go. Combining my affection 
for le cose Italiane with his affection for silly puns, 
brother Ted suggested il nome, Federico Feliney. 
And so it was that next day, newly neutered and still 
sneezing, little Freddie came home.

Baby Freddie licking his tail

**Stay tuned for Part II

March 29, 2009

Tizzy's Nutty Mum

Nutmeg, Tizzy's Mum shortly after having her kittens 9 years ago this summer.

Introducing, Tizzy's Mum, "Nutty". Well actually,
Nutmeg. Nutty was hardly grown herself and about 
to be spayed, when she ran away from home. She 
returned a few weeks later older, wiser (?)and 
pregnant. That was 9 years ago in Las Vegas. 
(Details remain in Las Vegas).In her delicate 
condition, she rode shotgun cross country to 
Philadelphia in a truck driven by her human, 
Mark C. Not long after, in the back of a walk- 
in closet in Mark's Mom's apartment here on the 
37th floor, Nutty's babies were born. My Tizzy, 
brother Silver and sister Jasmine (Jazzy) and 
a sweet little marmalade sib who sadly didn't 
survive. Nutty reminds me of the Madwoman 
of Chaillot. Small, elegant with long silky black 
and brown tortoise shell fur, small black feet 
and a fabulous plume of a tail. She shuts her 
huge khaki eyes and her face disappears. 
Mysterious, elusive and beautiful.

FYI: Silver, Tizzy's huge handsome silver tiger brother, 
rules over a kitty commune at the house of Hairdresser 
Michael. Jazzy, their gorgeous tan and black tiger sister 
lives with her Mum who is only a year older. They play 
wrestle and chase each other. Great friends.

March 24, 2009

He Also Eats Grapes


What kind of a cat won't touch real tuna, 
salmon, chicken or any sort of meat, but 
jumps on my knee, sticks his nose in my dish 
of GRAPES begging for a peeled taste?

There's also the dried peaches............

March 20, 2009

Welcome Spring

Font size
watercolor, Carolyn Croll


March 19, 2009

La Mia Epifania Italiana

On the way to my epifania, that day in Spoleto.

One day on my first visit to Italy (the now 
famous one-time-only trip led by Tomie 
dePaola that included a stop at the Bologna 
Book Fair), our gruppo had gathered in a 
small piazza in Spoleto to rest and enjoy 
some gelato.

I began watching two old Italian men talking
to each other. The first ended his comments 
to the other with a poke in the chest asking, 
The other replied then poked  his comrade
in turn, repeating,"Capisce?"

In a flash it dawned on me...... capisce must be 
an ITALIAN word, not Yiddish as I had always

Now wait.... I came by this life long delusion 
honestly. My Grandparents' generation
spoke Yiddish to each other (especially when 
children present were not supposed to 
understand). I had the sounds of all the 
kinahoras, shana maidelas, zhi gazindts, 
zhi gezundts and mishagases planted 
firmly in my head.

It turns out that when my Mother was a girl 
and her parents ran a corner grocery in their 
immigrant neighborhood, my Grandmother 
freely added words she fancied from other 
people's languages to her vocabulary 
without attribution. 

Thus, in my late 30's, 3500 miles from home 
and anyone familiar with this back story, my 
dear grandparents long gone, I had one of the 
biggest heartfelt epiphanies and knee 
weakening laughs of my life.

Later, I asked Mom why she never told me 
about capisce being Italian. She replied, 
"You never asked!"  

March 18, 2009


Yesterday, a neighbor stopped me saying, 
"You speak French don't you?"
Have NO inkling what gave her THAT idea. 

She needed something pronounced correctly. 
Yikes!! I can make true French speakers cry 
with my attempts.

Only on rare extreme emergency occasions
have I jumped a language barrier, tossed 
syntax, case, tense and shame to the wind. 

Like that day tour to Oxfordshire and Blenheim 
Palace from London some years ago. 

A French family, une grandmere, grandpere, 
petit-fils et une tante were on the bus
and clearly didn't understand an English word 
our guide spoke.

At first, I kept silent, only wanting to enjoy 
the trip. But the guide was brusque and 
increasingly agitated at French family 
members quietly chatting while she held 
forth about the sights.

When we alit just below Bladon Church, 
where Winston Churchill is buried.
The French folks were clueless. 
No idea where we were or why. 
Sidling up to the Aunt, as we walked up 
the hill, I tossed caution and pride to the wind.
"Excusez moi, Madame" I said. "Winston 
Churchill est mort dans cette eglise"
("Winston Churchill is dead in this church.")
OK, I just couldn't remember the French for 
cemetery -cimetiere - on such short notice. 

La Tante immediately spread the news and 
much to the disgust of our British guide, 
I became the French family's new 
best friend.

At Blenheim Palace I related how "La Reine 
Anne d'Angleterre a donne cet chateaux aux 
John Churchill, le premier Duc de Marlborough 
pour (hmm, how do I say "defeating"?) drawing my 
finger across my throat - les soldats de Louis XIV!!" 

My reward for courage and nerve was 
an ice cream cone avec mes nouveaux amis
and un grande "MERCI !" as I left the bus 
at Marble Arch back in London.

Who knew 2 years of barely passed high school French
would come in handy one day.

March 16, 2009

Wherein, Of The Green...

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face:
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until 
we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Old Irish prayer-

One of my favorites..........

March 13, 2009

Modern Life Lesson

Turns out the problem was not
the need of a new mouse.
Computer Mortis set in yesterday.
Do not ignore slowdowns and freezes.
Lesson learned.
Too late happens without further notice.
My unexpected contribution to the
struggling economy.
First post on my shiny new Mac.

March 11, 2009

A Cat & Mouse Tale

Sweet Fred to the Vet first thing this gray misty morning.
Not happy confined in his wheeled carrier.  
Plaintive cries advertising his misery through the town.
Stopped at the Apple store on the way home. 
"Need a new mouse," I told the man.
"Meow!!" wailed Fred.
A quizzical look.
"For my Mac, not my Fred".   ;-)

March 8, 2009

First Sign Of Spring

Hungry baby pigeon chirped loudly, giving away its
hidden nest among some pipes near the ceiling in the
Whole Foods parking lot.
One feathered parent fed the big noisy baby.
The other stood guard below.
Shoppers passed by, thankfully, paying no attention to all
the chirping.

March 6, 2009

For The Birds

This charming Russian folk art bird house 
found while I was preparing to illustrate
The Little Snowgirl.
An enchanting home for any little bird that fit 
through the hole under her chin. 

 Pavel, the Woodcarver, made one of his own.
Then the birdhouse stood outside his and 
Caterina's house and a bird moved in.
None of this is in the written story. 
Something to entertain myself and maybe
the reader.
I made these "Little Snowgirl" matrioshka dolls.
They go with me on school visits. 
Starting with Pavel, the children like 
to guess who is the next doll nested inside. 

The last 2 are the hardest to guess. 
The birdhouse and the little bird.

March 4, 2009

Kitty Crochet

I should be writing, but I've been crocheting.
Something I haven't done for a long time. Very Zen.

Here's my attempt at a little cat for a new baby
I know who is on the way.

I could do this every day............