October 23rd, 2007 | Uncategorized


I adopted a new cat last Friday. As you can see, though, she’s quite nervous, and is having a hard time adjusting to her new home.

Here she is starring in what I promise is my absolutely last Gerard Manley Hopkins poem set to shaky handheld footage of my yard.

If only because I don’t know any more of his poems.

100 Responses to “piebald”

  1. tea says:

    she is effing precious. congrats!

  2. shadocat says:

    Oh she’s beautiful! It took my mother/daughter pair awhile to get used to me, but now it’s as if they’ve always lived with here.

  3. toomanymeows says:

    Have a fun time with the new cat – she’s a real cutie! How old is she?

  4. van says:

    Artsy people and cats, they really are the majority… I guess dogs are too rambunctious? Hee, obviously I’m a dog person. Anyway, who can resist a furball? Aww, so cute! Someone wants a belly rub!

  5. Meghan says:

    She’s adorable. Glad to see you’ve found the right cat for you!

  6. shadocat says:

    That was supposed to be”as if they’ve always lived here”. Fortunately, my cats don’t care about my tendencies towards typos.

  7. *tania says:

    so, is her name piebald? or just the title of the post? her markings are like a diluted version of julia, though i’m sure she’s got plenty of personality of her own. mazel tov on the new family member, ab!

  8. Aunt Soozie says:

    She IS adorable…and I see you spared no expense on her bedding.

  9. Aunt Soozie says:

    Hey, wait, did Pranc make that bed? Oh no…that’s right, if she did it wouldn’t look like cardboard…it would look like a bed…but would be made out of cardboard.

  10. kate says:

    i love her already! command performance, please.

  11. a lurker says:

    there’s nothing like a cat:)

  12. leighisflying says:

    Great name! I love how cats always look so peaceful whilst sleeping in a sunbeam.

  13. debs says:

    What a lovely, sweet looking cat!

  14. Aharona says:

    Cats and poetry *swoons* Is there anything nicer?

    Mazel Tov on the new kitty friend. She is so pretty!

  15. Tera says:

    awwwwwwwwwww so cute!!!

  16. Deb says:

    LOL Aunt Soozie just cracks me up! What a beauty!

  17. Pam I says:

    Somehow a cat will always find a home where there’s a cat-shaped space. Eliza here was meant to be a short-term foster arrangement but I think we’re now into the adopting phase, four years on. I did quite like the irresponsible few months of being cat-free before she arrived, but some of us are just doomed. http://www.pamisherwood.co.uk/latest/latest_dec3.htm
    AB, did you know Piebald (?) in her youth?
    Pedant’s note – she’s more skewbald than piebald.

  18. Alex K says:

    @Pam I — “Skewbald” FTW!

  19. emilyg says:

    hey alison

    she looks the absolute spitting image of my cat martina. only i’m in whitstable so she’s clearly travelled a long way!

  20. judybusy says:

    Congrats, AB on the new family member. She looks as interested in housework as our four beasts do. Pam I, your cat looks miffed she doesn’t have a real mouse. LOL cats, anyone?

  21. Ellie says:

    Thanks, Alison.

    That’s one of my favorite poems.

    What a lovely kitty. Congratulations!

  22. little gator says:

    I love patched tabbies, and she’s an especially lovely one.

    Even prettier than my heartcat Leela was.
    and yes, she was named after the Dr who character.

  23. NLC says:

    [Apropos of nothing, but because I’m putting off starting work this morning as long as I can…]

    The thing about a piece by Manley Hopkins is that you have to be sure to read it aloud.

    One interesting feature of his work (about which I’m sure the resident English Majors can tell us plenty) is his use of what he called Sprung Meter.

    As Mrs Brown taught you in 10th grade English class, in most (traditional) English verse the division of the line is stressed-based. That is, you count and group the syllables based on how the syllable is stressed. For example:
    “whose WOODS these ARE i THINK i KNOW”
    Or, (to quote Roy Blount Jr’s “favorite line of iambic pentameter”):
    “i HATE to SEE that EVE’ning SUN go DOWN”.

    This fits the nature of spoken English well. It also makes the implicit assumption –also reasonable for most English listeners and speakers– that all syllables are more or less of the same duration. That is, it takes, roughly, the same period of time to pronounce them.

    But in other poetic traditions, the duration of the syllable was the more important feature. In English we call vowels “long” or “short” based on their sound (for example, the difference between “bite” and “bit). But in, for example, Greek the actual duration of the vowel –how long it took a speaker to pronounce the vowel– was also important. A “long” vowel like Omega could take nearly twice as long to pronounce as the similarly sounding “short” vowel Omicron.

    So, when scanning a line of poetry by, say, Homer, the important feature to keep track of was the duration of the vowel (and its surrounding syllables), not the simple stress on the syllable. The net result was the amount of time it took to speak each line was more or less the same, regardless of the actual number of syllables the line included.

    Sometimes this this duration-based metric counting shows up in English, often for humorous effect. My favorite example is the children’s verse:
    Bow! Wow! Wow!
    Whose dog art thou?
    Little Tommy Tinker’s dog,
    Bow! Wow! Wow!

    If you read this aloud you’ll see that each of the four lines takes about the same length of time to speak, although the third lines contains twice as many syllables as the others (i.e. all because of the nature of the vowels involved in each word).

    Anyway, Manley Hopkins tried to mimic this duration-based meteric counting in English by using what he called “Sprung Meter”, which attempted to base the scanning of the line on the duration of the individual syllables in a way similar to that used in classical Greek poetry.

    So, as I said (long ago at the top) the point of all this is to that you should make sure you read this work aloud. That’s true of all poetry, of course, but it’s easy to miss much of the music –an over-used word, but one that is really appropriate here– in Manley Hopkin’s verse if you read it silently.

  24. Alex the Bold says:

    Oh, Kitty! You’re just adowable. Almost as cute as my cat.


    Don’t forget that, Kitty; You’re on the bubble.

  25. Elisablue says:

    She’s beautiful … 🙂

    Merci pour le poème et pour le bonheur de voir un chat regarder la forêt …

  26. Lori from Strand says:

    Good for you that you adopted an older cat. You are not only giving her a good life, but you opened up a spot for another to be rescued. Adorable!

  27. freyakat says:

    Hi Alison,

    A warm welcome to the new feline member of your family! She’s the furry best.

  28. Duffi says:

    clearly a very stressed-out cat. congrats, Alison. Wish I could rub her belly!

  29. Lizzie from London says:

    Kathleen Raine, the English poet, said that cats were paradisal animals who had never fallen from grace.

  30. Nickel Joey says:

    NLC: Yeah, Hopkins is very, very cool. If I remember right, “Piebald” is an example of a curtal sonnet, a form he invented whose two parts mimic the proportions of the octave and sestet in a “conventional” 14-line sonnet but are shorter.

    Complete explanation here for any other English geeks: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curtal_sonnet

    But what I love about Hopkins — which I find even more remarkable given his mathematical approach to sprung rhythm and poetic forms — is the musical way he uses language. Assonance, consonance, alliteration, off rhyme: it’s all there, and it all contributes to the beauty. The texts of his best poems literally fill your mouth and make you slow down.

    So yes, do read Hopkins aloud. His “God’s Grandeur” is one of my favorites — and as a gay man who grew up in the evangelical church, I especially love the image of the Holy Ghost brooding over the “bent” world with “ah! bright wings.”

  31. (call me) Sir Real says:

    I see black, as well as brown patches – wikipedia alleges that this is `oddbald’, in fact!

  32. Silvio Soprani says:

    NLC (and Nickle Joey),

    That was very interesting and instructive.

    However, regarding your exhortation to read poems “aloud,”
    just one thought–when you read to yourself (“silently”), aren’t you hearing/feeling your own voice speaking all the syllables and all the rhythm and spacing? While I may not read a novel that way, I do read poems to myself that way.

    I suppose it is a bit the way Glenn Gould practiced his classical piano pieces–in his head. (Not that my poem reading experiences are anywhere in his virtuoso league…)

    Does anyone else read poetry this way?

  33. NLC says:

    Silvio Soprani Says:
    However, regarding your exhortation to read poems “aloud,”
    just one thought–when you read to yourself (”silently”), aren’t you hearing/feeling your own voice speaking all the syllables and all the rhythm and spacing?

    I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but certainly for me the answer is “no”.

    That is, reading a piece aloud, and reading it (silently) to myself –however carefully– are really quite different experiences. I find that actually, physically, hearing the sound, as well as the involvement of the mechanics of speaking the words –most notably breath– make the two experiences radically different.

    I agree that it might makes sense that they should be the same. But my experience is that they are not.

  34. JoeBeason says:

    Awww! I had to have my last cat put to sleep about a year and a half ago, and haven’t yet gotten a new one. I met a lovely pair of five year old sisters, one grey, one black, in the adoptee section of PetSmart. They were so cute! However, I was there with my partner buying the finches he’s wanted for a year. I’m not sure birds + cats is a good idea; I don’t want to live in a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon.

  35. Suzanonymous says:

    Yay. 🙂

  36. martinet says:

    What a lovely little being. I, too, lost my “heartcat” Digory (whoever used that term got it just right) earlier this year and adopted a new little beastie, also a calico (although without the pretty tabby markings), a few months ago. She’s a madwoman–Kali, actually short for Kaleidoscope, but the goddess resonance also works. I’ve heard that calicos are independent as all hell (as opposed to mellower tortoiseshells)–it’ll be interesting to see if you have that experience, AB.

  37. Aranea says:

    To Silvio, re hearing what one reads : same here, and it’s not just poetry I read that way. Novels too, menus, phone numbers (some have a lovely lilt to them)… For me eye-reading is inseparable from hearing sounds, rhythm, alliteration, and music or the lack of it. Reading out loud just turns up the volume. It took me years to realize not everyone heard what they read, too.
    Weirder still, I suspect, is that I also “see”, spelled out, most of what I say, to the extent that it seriously bothers me to have to pronounce a word or a name I’m not sure I could spell. But then I’m one of the English-major geeks, of the worst kind : 90% Sydney on the quiz… Eeeek! But guilty as charged. I’m an academic. (-:

  38. leighisflying says:

    Rather long for a blog post but:


    Stevie Smith 1901-1971

    Oh I am a cat that likes to
    Gallop about doing good
    One day when I was
    Galloping about doing good, I saw
    A figure in the path; I said
    Get off! (Be-
    I am a cat that likes to
    Gallop about doing good)
    But he did not move, instead
    He raised his hand as if
    To land me a cuff
    So I made to dodge so as to
    Prevent him bringing it orf,
    Un-for-tune-ately I slid
    On a banana skin
    Some Ass had left instead
    Of putting in the bin. So
    His hand caught me on the cheek
    I tried
    To lay his arm open from wrist to elbow
    With my sharp teeth
    Because I am
    A cat that likes to gallop about doing good.
    Would you believe it?
    He wasn’t there
    My teeth met nothing but air,
    But a Voice said: Poor Cat,
    (Meaning me) and a soft stroke
    Came on me head
    Since when
    I have been bald.
    I regard myself as
    A martyr to doing good
    Also I heard a swoosh
    As of wings, and saw
    A halo shining at the height of
    Mrs Gubbins’s backyard fence,
    So I thought: What’s the good
    Of galloping about doing good
    When angels stand in the path
    And do not do as they should
    Such as having an arm to be bitten off
    All the same I
    Intend to go on being
    A cat that likes to
    Gallop about doing good
    Now with my bald head I go,
    Chopping the untidy flowers down, to
    and fro,
    An’ scooping up the grass to show
    The cinder path of wrath
    Ha ha ha ha, ho,
    Angels aren’t the only ones who do
    not know
    What’s what and that
    Galloping about doing good
    Is a full time job
    That needs
    An experienced eye of earthly
    Sharpness, worth I dare say
    (if you’ll forgive a personal note)
    A good deal more
    Than all that skyey stuff
    Of angels that make so bold as
    To pity a cat like me that
    Gallops about doing good.

  39. Aunt Soozie says:

    In her class Sonia Sonchez insisted that we read our work out loud…in process. But, you know, we’re having this whole conversation because NLC was avoiding work.

  40. ksbel6 says:

    Yeah for avoiding work and yeah for cats. I have a cat and a tiny little dog. They are the best of friends and provide me with hours of entertainment!

  41. judybusy says:

    Silvio, I wonder if you can “hear” poetry better because of your musical background? I confess that I don’t read much poetry (OK, none) because after about four lines I lose track of what I’m reading. Now, a good book–non-fiction or fiction–I can lose myself for hours in that, preferably with a feline beast on my lap. I am sure many have already seen this YouTube vid, but it’s cat-related: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qiGyxPplAw&feature=bz302

  42. SI says:

    WHO’s got a FUZZY BELLY?????

  43. Verbal Athleticism says:

    Why did you choose her? Out of all the other cats, what did she do to catch your eye?

  44. Nickel Joey says:

    Aranea: I’m the same way with words, especially names! If I meet someone new, I have a very hard time storing his or her name in my brain unless I know how to spell it and can see it in my head. People think I’m a complete freak. (And maybe I am, but at least there’s a pair of us.)

    Silvio: I’m more like NLC when I read silently. Certainly I’m aware of the rhythms and sounds of the words on the page when I’m reading with my eyes only — I have a musical background as well — but the experience is markedly different when I read aloud. There’s another layer or two involved when you have to speak something, I think, especially poetry. Add to that the rich array of sounds that Hopkins piles up in a work like this, and it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame. At least for me.

    Try it. I think you might be surprised at how different it is. Then again, maybe judybusy is right and you’re an aural savant. Would that I had such talent!

  45. leighisflying says:

    Nickel Joey,

    When I’m learning anything in a new language I have to know how it’s spelled to get the pronunciation correct. I’m terribly visual. Do you think it’s from too much formal education, or just the way our brains process/store information?

  46. Maggie Jochild says:

    GREAT comment about Hopkins, NLC. The other point I wanted to make with the first video about Hopkins’ poetry is that he’s brilliant at using enjambment, which means that “stopping” at the end of each line (either read aloud or visually recreating them) tends to assault the meaning and flow of his work. Another reason to read it aloud for sense — including on a video.

  47. Pam I says:

    Total coincidence, I’ve just discovered (by reading my upmarket early-xmas junk mail) the name of the ceramic cats that I’ve lusted after for years – Wemyss. There’s a pair in the Dome museum in Brighton and it was love at first sight, but they sell for the price of a house. There are now modern copies. Have a google and see if you agree that they have to be the most stoned creatures ever seen. They just make me laugh. Je veux, je veux.

  48. LondonBoy says:

    Alison, congratulations on your new arrival. The following comments are not meant seriously, they’re just raw prejudices from the other side of the debate.

    [ … takes a deep breath and summons up all his courage… ]

    OK, let’s just think about this logically:

    Cat: carries its own vicious weapons, and uses them to shred everything in sight;
    Dog: has teeth, sure, but only uses them to protect you and your family.

    Cat: is friendly when it wants something;
    Dog: is friendly just for the sake of it.

    Cat: vanishes all day, then re-appears on hearing the can-opener;
    Dog: spends all day with you if you ask him to, then driven into raptures of joy by the can-opener.

    Cat: smelly cat litter;
    Dog: brisk country walks.

    Cat: hunts small rodents and birds;
    Dog: hunts wolves and deer.

    Cat: independent;
    Dog: team player.

    Cat: conditional love;
    Dog: unconditional love.

    Cat: changes owners at the drop of a can-opener;
    Dog: Greyfriars Bobby.

    [ I await the brickbats… ]

  49. ladiesbane says:

    Like shining from shook foil! I love it.

    And why must there be cat people versus dog people? “All creatures great and small”, y’all.

  50. Elizabeth says:

    Love the GMH poem, it’s always been one of my favorites. Thanks for posting it! I love the idea of ‘Landscapes, plotted and pieced, fold, fallow, and plough’– you can see a lot of pieced landscapes around here ( Western MA), and they are especially pretty this time of year.

    Enjoy the lovely new kitty!

  51. Twilight says:

    Oh your new kitty is just so cute!

  52. Nickel Joey says:


    I think it’s just the way I’m wired. I’ve always been very verbal, but ended up very visual as well. Especially when it comes to letters and words and letterforms.

    But I find ways to put my freakitude to good use. Today I said to a couple of coworkers: “The typeface on this deck is Gotham, not Avenir, isn’t it? It needs to be Avenir, right?” One of them told me I needed a raise. 🙂

  53. shadocat says:

    Londonboy, Londonboy, why do you want to make ole shadocat all cranky? Now I must defend all of feline-kind:

    cat: Has tiny teeth and claws. If she uses them on you, you
    might get hurt, but you’ll survive.

    dog: Teeth and claws can be so large, he just might take you
    out if you piss him off.

    cat: Doorstop

    dog: Doormat

    cat: Stays out of your way all day, but still remembers to
    come home for dinner.

    dog: Bugs you all day, then begs for YOUR dinner.

    cat: You never have to walk her, ’cause she uses a litter

    dog: MUST be walked every day in rain, sleet, snow, dark of

    cat: Hunts small rodents and birds.

    dog: Hunts small rodents, large rodents, birds, cats, other
    dogs, coyotes, small children, old ladies, etc.,etc.

    cat: Independent

    dog: Co-dependent

    cat: Stakes a claim on your heart.

    dog: Well, okay, does the same damn thing…

    (said shadocat, as she hopes londonboy takes no offense) ;]

  54. Matron says:

    There’s nothing like the picture of a cute cat to bring people out of long-term lurkerdom.

    Congrats, Alison, on your new boss. Have you ever looked at a cat and thought: “You’ve got it made, mate?” That’s what I thought when I saw this picture. (It’s also what I think every morning when my own little tyrant collapses on the bed after a night on the tiles). In my next life, I’ll be a cat in a lesbian household…

  55. Alex K says:

    @Verbal Athleticism:

    Because this cat was THE RIGHT ONE.

  56. liz says:

    Beautiful, and congratulations, but gee, I hope she learns to relax eventually. I imagine that all the work you put into this nervous little girl will eventually pay off, but do be patient!

  57. Anonymous says:

    I really liked the poem.
    Judybusy (hello!) I don’t read much poetry either, probably for the same reason as you.
    I think having spent so much time around songwriters has made the mechanism of writing, reading, and delivering poetry somewhat invisible to me. Lyrics without music seem lacking somehow, and I envy how poets have the nerve to just speak in public without any melody (I know they have rhythm.)

    Also, songwriters spend a lot of time waiting for an idea to mean something in several dimensions before it seems finished. (By dimensions I mean rhythm, melody, and meaning.) Whereas poets do not constrain themselves that way, I suppose. (I am supposing because I am not a poet.)

    Of course, I don’t think the ancient Greeks worried about these things. All expression was music to them.

    London Boy, I am sorry to say (on this thread) that I agree with your cats vs dogs position. Sorry, Shado.

  58. Silvio Soprani says:

    Darn it! Did it again! That “Anonymous” was Silvio.

  59. Grisha says:

    Just a follow up to Shadocat on dogs and cats. We’ve had both. We had a very gentle German Sheppard for 14 years. Little kids would put their fingers in his eye and he’d just turn away. One morning on his walk, however a crazy street person backed my wife into the alcove of a neighbors house and was accusing her of all kinds of things at the top of his lungs. She was terrified, but then realized she was using all her strength to pull on the leash. She looked down and saw that our dog was “Showing all his teeth and making a funny sound in the back of his throat I hadn’t heard him ever make before.” Somehow the whacko processed that if he didn’t withdraw he’d be dead meat. With all due respect to cats, they’re pretty much useless in this kind of a situation.

  60. leighisflying says:

    Oh, I don’t know, cats can be threatening when they want, or surprisingly insightful. When my girlfriend moved to stay with my mother and I (death in the family) she was a little uncomfortable with the house of cats. One cat in particular took to harassing her with complete regularity. He would hide in the shadows of the basement (Shadocat) and wait for only her to come down the stairs. Then he’d spring out of the darkness with limbs spread wide (like some kind of manic bat) and wrap himself around her thigh. The whole house could hear the screams, and he never did it to anyone else. She actually became quite fond of him.

  61. leighisflying says:

    My mother and me? Damn, how does that go…

  62. Virginia Burton says:

    Someone may have posted this already, but if not~her coloring is called Flashy Calico. Or, in the case of our beloved late Miss Kitty II, Fleshy Calico.

  63. avidlibrarian says:

    leighisflying, the way to determine is to take out the first noun and see how it sounds — in this case, remove “my mother”, and get “moved to stay with me”. It usually works when that confusion arises. Also, have you folks seen the cat haiku site? It’s old, but still makes me laugh: http://www.fanciers.com/haiku.shtml (actually I don’t think it’s “true” haiku, but a variant called senryu (ya learn something every day!). I think my favorite is So you call this thing/
    Your “cat carrier.” I call/
    These my “blades of death.”

  64. Lizzie from London says:

    I could swear cats know exactly who is and is not prepared to be their slave. I had a lodger who really didn’t like my cat (Kitty – RIP)and I’m sure he used to kick her when I wasn’t looking. He certainly turfed her off the chair if she was sitting comfortably. One dy I arrived home to find him incensed. Kitty had crapped with great accuracy and neatness on top of a round table (covered with a white cloth) in the room where he liked to sit. No she wasn’t ill and she never did it again. I remain convinced it was a two fingers up to my lodger who could not have been more outraged and certainly took it personally.

    I like dogs too. Big alsatians, labradors, sheepdogs. Cats for beauty and dogs for devotion. And there doesn’t have to be cat litter. You need a garden to ahve a cat then they biry their mess – unless they are a dominant tom.

    there’s a poem by Christopher Smart about his cat, part of Jubilate Agno, written when he was locked up mad:

    It begins,

    For I will consider my cat Jeoffrey,
    For he is the servant of the living God, duly and daily serving him.
    For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
    For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.

    and it continues …

  65. Donut Rooter says:

    Look at the smile on that cat! She knows she found a great home! 🙂

  66. Pam I says:

    You don’t even need a garden – this is one solution http://www.litterkwitter.com.au/ . Teaches your mog to crap in a human toilet. I can’t help thinking it frustrates a cat’s own need to cover its crap, but their video (not for dinnertime viewing) shows that it works. It has to be better for envt too, than all those festering packs of used litter in landfill.

    Doesn’t say if they learn to flush, though I swear I’ve meandered past a youtube video of a cat that flushes because it likes the swirly noises. Was I dreaming?

  67. Alex K says:

    @Pam I: Our dear Pat, Pat The Wonder Cat, learned, God rest his soul — oh, yes, I’m confident that he had one, a large and generous and loving soul — to use the loo.

    But — @Lizzie from London — at times of distress, frustration, and the like, “faecal expressionism” remained part of his repertoire.

    Afterwards he scuffed a bit at the seat, desultorily, and then hopped down to come to us, to miaouw loudly so that we would go, and admire, and do the needful, after which he would receive his praise as a Good Boy.

    **I’m tearing up a bit as I type this. How I miss him!**

    Flush? Pshaw. Why do you think he kept us on as staff?

  68. Feminista says:

    Ah,but there are cat litters that are enviro-friendly. I’ve used the one with pine chips and currently using one with recycled paper pellets. The former is messier (the cats track the clean stuff on the floor)while the latter is harder to flush.

    On to a more pleasant subject. Jokes,witticisims,funny stories anyone?

  69. judybusy says:

    Ok, this isn’t a joke or witticism, but a request for kinder words for the mentally ill. Grisha in his post referred to someone as a crazy street person and a wacko. I work with people with severe mental illnesses and see how devastating it is to have these illnesses. I have no doubt whatsoever the experience was frightening, but the person was likely very frightened by your wife, perhaps responding to voices. He probably was not in touch with reality. He was not just some a**hole out to scare her. I think the story could have been told using less pejorative language.

    I usually feel a need to speak up when I see language like this, because this group of people are just so incredibly marginalized, invisible and despised that I must grab any chance at advocay I can.

  70. little gator says:

    Grisha-I’ve had protective dogs and know what you mean.

    But I don’t choose any of my friends, human or not human, for their ability to protect me.

    My heartdog SaranWrap Sara(clingy, transparent, liked to wrap herself around food) was the gentlest dog I’ve ever known and would probably have simply cringed or run away if she saw me threatened. I only once heard her growl, when she was whimpering in her sleep and I woke her.

    Those markings seem to have many names. Patched tabby and torbie(tortie and tabby) are among them.

  71. little gator says:

    It seesm onlyfair to tell you I’ve had 3 heartcritters among the 13 dogs and cats I’ve lived with. The other was the imcomparable Rudy Patootie.

  72. oceans 111 says:

    Whether or not the person was mentally ill, the dog may have been accurately sensing danger. ONe reason therapy dogs can be useful is that tend not to be as estranged as people by uncommon, but non-threatening, behaivior.

    I had a dog with a total lack of confrontational skills who started growling for real once when I was walking down the street with him late at might. I was about 1/2 a block away from a perfectly normal-looking person and immediately turned and went another direction. Never heard that noise from him (the dog) before or since, and am quite sure the stranger would have tried to hurt me.

  73. Nurse Ingrid says:

    My Lydia is a paler (and fatter) version of this cat, and I have had various vets refer to her as a “pastel calico,” a “pastel tortie,” and, most recently, a “diluted calico.”

  74. Nurse Ingrid says:

    must…rub…cat belly now…

    sorry, I thought this was Cute Overload!

  75. The Cat Pimp says:

    I volunteer at an animal shelter and my expert opinion is that dogs and cats and rabbits are *all* good and wonderful.

    I spend hours trying to convince people that when you take an adult cat, you are getting the cat you are going to have. Kittens are such a crapshoot and they spend a few months destroying your curtains and climbing up your leg. But nooooo, they adopt kittens and we keep getting 2 year old cats.

    So, Alison, if I lived in Vermont, I’d have been the one jumping up and down and squeaking unashamedly at the animal shelter, just like I do in Oakland. The description of the cat would be “tabby calico” or “dilute tabby calico”, depending on the intensity of her colors. Her “orange” fur looks very strawberry blonde from the photo, so dilute is good.

    Enjoy many years of kissing cat belly and reading poems to her. You made a good choice!

    (Ingrid, Hi from across the Bay! -ER)

  76. van says:

    Grisha, throwing the cat at perp’s face, there’s always that;) Since I like small dogs (like terriers) I guess that’s not much protection, but at least I can cuddle them and expect no claws or attitude, lol. Everytime I think of cats, I remember the cat in Babe (the movie) who, sitting in her fat furry glory and discussing the purpose of the animals in the farm, simply states, “Well, cats, we are here to be beautiful.” Purrr…

    leighisflying, lol! They are pretty mischievous. We had a cat before and when a new girl came to stay with us, EVERY TIME she went down the stairs (the see thru, planks type kind), the cat would hide at the base and claw the back of her feet from behind. I think that cat really looked forward to the screams. It was always that one person, too. Soon, it was almost like a game to them, who’s faster, the woman running down the stairs or him taking a swipe.

  77. little gator says:

    Dilute calicos and tabby are also called blue-creams because they are blue and cream where a tortie is black and red. If there’s tabby striping involved the colors vary even more.

    I have a Lydia(the tattoed lady) too! She’s a spotted grey/brown tabby with white feet. That means mostly stripes but on her sides are lines of spots instead of pure stripes.

    She has a few tiny black speckles on her white feet, and black paw pads, so it looks like she’s been walking through ink.

  78. mothra in NYC says:

    Lizzie from London mentions Christopher Smart’s astounding poem Jubilate Agno (Rejoice in the Lamb); you can find the bit about Jeoffrey the Cat at http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/poems/661.html … it’s too long to paste here. Benjamin Britten set parts of it in “Rejoice in the Lamb”. In the music, the bit after what Lizzie quoted runs: “For he knows that God is his saviour./ For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest./ For I am posessed of a cat surpassing in beauty, from whom I take occasion to bless almighty God.”
    Smart suffered from an obsessive graphomania … he goes on and on about Jeoffrey. But I have three cats in my life, and I can totally relate to wanting to talk about them beyond all reasonable limits. However, this blog is not about me, so:
    Thanks, AB, for the video clip and the still photo, which give a pretty good idea of what the adorable new gal in your life is like. The pairing with the Hopkins is perfect; you make me cry! (“Pied Beauty” is a personal favorite of mine.)
    Heading off to read more of my favorite Hopkins on Bartleby.com, sniff!
    (http://www.bartleby.com/122/ … in case you need more of his poems to caption your video material with…)

  79. debs says:

    Okay, I thought I was the only one who wanted to reach into the picture and rub this cat’s belly. So, Alison, on behalf of all of us, please pass the following on to the cat, if she enjoys belly rubs:


    Aaah. I feel better.

  80. lwc_2001@yahoo.com says:

    Cute kitty. I miss having cats, but I can’t afford the extra pet fees for apartments.

    I’m super crushed right now. I live in Columbus and just found out about your appearance at OSU, but it’s $150 dollars due 2 week ago and I have work… ugh… Hopefully I will get to see you at some con or another. Just sucks that you were in my backyard and I dropped the ball.

    Take care. Chris in Columbus

  81. Lizzie from London says:

    Judybusy – uncomfortably aware that I described Christopher Smart as “mad” I would like to make it clear that this was short-hand for “he was one of those people with that particular brand of sanity (John Clare, William Blake, Sylvia Plath) that enables them to see the world in such a way as thy can write poetry about it, and suffer for the insanity of the world and people in it.”

    And back to cats – what I loved best (or one of the best) about Kitty was her furry spotty tummy which had kind of leopard markings on it. her top was pure tabby.

  82. Ian says:

    You know a cat trusts you when they let you tickle their tummy. Their trust is greater because you have to earn it. Now I love dogs, but every dog I’ve known has been a slapper – any sight of someone and they’re on their backs ready for a tickle.

    That said, I love having a ‘yes man’ in my life who thinks I’m wonderful and (nearly) obeys my every command (except when it comes to food and being recalled from an interesting smell). I also love cats, but they can be twisted and perverse. There’s many a cat I’ve met who heads straight for the person who is either allergic or hates cats and is all over them like a rash. It’s like Looney Tunes -v- Disney – I prefer anarchic mischief and wickedness.

  83. little gator says:

    Rudy would head straight for the allergic, but didn’t single them out. He loved *everyone* and would leap onto anyone’s shoulder or lap expecting them to love him back.

    Almost everyone. He avoided one of our relatives(we wished we could avoid this person too). And he hated female cats.

  84. Alex the Bold says:

    AHHH!!! Where’s Kitty’s Collar?

  85. judybusy says:

    Lizzie, I actually didn’t take offense at your usage…I knew you meant it in just the way you described. Isn’t it strange how we can parse out those usages? also, I am sure someone on this blog was offended by your usage: the subjectivity of language makes it fascinating to think about/disucss. (I am no academic, and that banal sentence is the best my brian can put out…)

  86. little gator says:

    judybusy-I’m not picking on you, but I find some typos amusing, and my typing is terrible.

    Anyway, say hi to your brian for me.

  87. judybusy says:

    Yeah, l. g. I proof-read that damn thing three times then noticed it immediately once it got posted. I found it immensely amusing! My brian is busy right now, but will get back to you with an appropriate greeting once things are sorted out.

  88. Deena in OR says:

    Yeah, typos. Disucss. (see typo above.)

    ducking and running….

  89. astronomick says:


    I am in the process of moving. My cat thinks I’ve gone insane. I come into the apt like Godzilla and start rearranging things, pulling them down, shoving everything around.

  90. Barb says:

    Thank you for adopting! She’s beautiful, I wish you many, happy years together. My career is in animal sheltering. I wanted to let you know, shortly after your Julia passed away, I named a cat after her. One night, as I was leaving our shelter I heard a loud, plaintive meow. I followed the sound accross a snow covered field to the neighboring farm. (they don’t have cats, so I knew she wasn’t theirs) This mystery cat and I played a spontaneous game of marco polo until, at last we saw each other. I said something infinitley wise like “what are you doing?”, she responded by bounding over the drifts, and literally jumped into my arms. She stayed with us for awhile, ate alot, was spayed, vaccinated, etc..
    She has since been adopted and is loving her new, safe, indoor home.
    All the best to you and your new gal!

  91. mlk says:

    what a sweet kitty!!

    have you tested her cartooning skills yet? I know you’ve been missing a furry body to assist during the hours of drudgery!

    if this cutie isn’t quite up to it, some of your fans will surely help out with the important tasks of lying on papers, jumping on your lap, and swishing their tail in your face (you know who they are!!). I expect, though, that you’ve fully vetted this girl’s skills as Cartoon Assistant and Comic Muse.

    my best to you both . . .

  92. mlk says:

    Chris, I’m blushing (in a crestfallen sort of way). . .

    I’ve been anticipating AB’s visit for months now and somehow didn’t anticipate registration, etc. for the conference. I must be delusional.

    obviously I’m not an academic; otherwise I’d *remember* that book signings and conferences aren’t run the same way.

  93. Jana C.H. says:

    Saith…whom?: The visionary chooses a cat; the man of concrete a dog. Hamlet must have kept a cat. Platonists, or cat lovers, include sailors, painters, poets, and pickpockets. Aristotelians, or dog lovers, include soldiers, football players, and burglars.

    Saith: Arnold Edinborough: Curiosity is the very basis of education and if you tell me that curiosity killed the cat, I say only the cat died nobly.

    Saith Albert Schweitzer: There are two means of refuge from the miseries of life: music and cats.

    Jana C.H. and Boris Janavitch
    Curiosity was framed. Ignorance killed the cat.

  94. regis says:

    hey! AB says she’s not watching the comments in her blog right now because she’s busy.


    *flicks the lightswitch on and off for a lightswitch rave*
    *hands out party favors and silly hats*

  95. little gator says:

    *dance on the table*

    *snorgle the Pied Beauty*

    *throw packets of instant microwave popcorn at everyone*

    Explanantion-we can’t eat chocolate cause it gives us migraines. So this Halloween I regretfuly got some starbursts and skittles to hand out. Mr Gator forgot and came home with microwave popcorn with bats on the label. The silly.

    Oh wait, we need costumes. I’ll be The Compost Fiend.

  96. little gator says:

    And don’t bother suggesting that I give chocolate to kids and just don’t eat any myself.

  97. Jolene says:

    This photo made the words “AWwww, whatta cute kitty!” jump right outta my mouth. Congrats on the fuzzy-baby ^..^