motley winter pelage shines
dappled kitten love
calico by Angie Quantrell
photo by Angie Quantrell
Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten
Written by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata
Two Lions (August 2020)
Oh, such adorable characters! I’m a cat fan, but cute little Clover takes kitties to a new level. I truly enjoyed reading Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten, to myself and my grands (even the soon-to-be 6th grader was secretly listening). If you have a kitty, I mean child, beginning kittygarten this fall, however that looks in your town, reading this picture book will be the perfect activity to begin exploring and discussing all of the changes and anxieties of a new school experience.
I’m pleased to welcome Laura Purdie Salas, author of Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten. After reading her new book, I reached out to Laura and invited her to visit my blog. Thank you for stopping by Laura! Happy book birthday!
I’m a former English teacher and copyeditor who’s been writing book for kids for (gulp) 20 years. Poetry and nonfiction mostly, but I have lots of stories inside, too. CLOVER’s my first pure fiction picture book! I’m also a game player, donut lover, and eager learner, and I love to walk and work at my treadmill desk.
I listened to the All the Wonders podcast where Matthew Winner interviewed Anna Kang and Christopher Weyant about their book, I Am (Not) Scared, several years ago. I wondered what was the most unlikely fear a child could have. Puppies! That’s what I thought of. Those morphed into kitties eventually—equally unscary!
I had to justify a character being afraid of puppies or kitties. Over the course of a year and a dozen or so drafts, I tried out many different conflicts and character traits for Clover. Was she anxious? Just used to doing things her own way? Strongly introverted? I learned a bit more about Clover with each draft, and eventually this evolved into a back-to-school story, and Clover became a kitty who experiences sensory overwhelm. So Clover sees a bunch of kitties on the playground at recess, for instance, as “a squealing tornado of fangs and fur.” As someone who is not great at making friends myself, and who also finds crowds overwhelming, I definitely see a bit of myself in Clover.
Oh, boy. It’s a rough year to release a book, isn’t it? In-person events were all canceled, of course. I did a virtual readaloud to some lovely kids through Gigi’s Playhouse (https://gigisplayhouse.org/gigisathome/), but that’s about it in real time. I devoted a bit of extra energy to making some printables to help teachers and families during this nerve-wracking back-to-school time. I’ve got puppets and activity sheets and a school countdown calendar—lots of things to celebrate friends and help kids think about what tools THEY need to make their back-to-school experience a great one! Or at least one with more ups than downs! And there’s been a super blog tour, which I’ve been so grateful for. I have links and excerpts on my site, along with all those printables, at https://laurasalas.com/clover/.
I’m learning that anxiety is something that can strike anytime. I’m usually upbeat and very practical. With the state of the world right now, however, author visits, book sales, book acquisitions—they are all taking a hard hit. Honestly, I’m worried about my writing career. So I’m gathering my own survival gear. I may not need earmuffs or sunglasses like Clover, but I’m digging deep to find the tools I can use to keep moving forward and making picture books—my favorite thing in the whole world.
Thank so much, Laura, for sharing your journey and your imagination in the form of Clover Kitty!
Here’s how to get in touch with Laura. Check it out – a Clover Kitty page with fun stuff!
What a week!
Our daughter ended up in the hospital due to cellulitis from a bug bite. As a result, we juggled child care, transportation, hospital runs, and assorted other duties while she received aggressive IV treatment to stop the infection (previous antibiotics did nothing to stop the infection from spreading).
Every week is busy and we tend to go full speed. Writing, working, cooking, cleaning. But add one off-kilter event, such as a parent (our adult child) being hospitalized, and chaos rules the day.
Good thing for me, I had a weekend away tucked in my hip pocket. Of course, I would have cancelled had my daughter not been released from her expensive spa treatment (that’s what we called her stay). Hooray, her bite improved, the high powered antibiotics did their job, and she went home in plenty of time for my retreat.
After handing off care of 3 grands to my daughter-in-love, I loaded the car with the important things (rubber stamps, food, clothes) and headed to Seattle to stay and play with my crafting partner. And boy did we pack in the fun.
I was amazed at all we managed to fit into our weekend. We
~rubber stamped cards (36 total for me)
~took a ferry ride to Hood Canal
~relaxed at a cabin where we sipped hot tea, read a magazine, read the newspaper, and attempted a crossword puzzle
~completed a four-mile walk through the state park where we saw one spawning salmon and several done spawning and deceased fish, bald eagles, a seal, seagulls, gorgeous fall colors, and sparkling streams leading to Hood Canal
~stopped at a craft market AND a thrift shop
~enjoyed a new apple crisp (with cheese!) recipe
~tasted creative and delicious meals
~talked much and solved world problems
~watched the Seattle Sounders win the national championship game
~walked to the University Village
~listened to a mystery on cassette
~kicked off the Christmas season with traditional music selections
~planned Christmas gifts and adventures
~traveled to Southcenter (a shopping area in Renton) where we perused Impress for more rubber stamping ideas and supplies, braved crowds and long lines at IKEA (plus I had coupons for a free birthday meal and stuff), and used coupons at JoAnn’s
~slept in and snuggled kitties
I’m sure that’s not all we did, but the change of scenery and responsibilities refreshed my body and energy. I was sad when my weekend away came to an end and I had to reload the car and drive home.
What a wonderful way to recharge! Should you find yourself needing stress relief and relaxation, consider a weekend getaway. Choose a new or favorite destination, pack your bags, and hit the road. It will be worth all of your time and efforts.
How do you relax? Where do you go to get away? What was your favorite weekend away?
One can’t be all work and no play, especially on a writing retreat.
First, there is the cat. Cosmo is quite happy to give me as many breaks a day as I can handle (and then some). Plus he delivers wrap-his-paws-around-my-neck loves, a warm kitty neck warmer, and blankets of kitty fur.
Then there are the windows. Such delightful windows, with a garden full of butterflies, hummingbirds, blue jays, finches, bees, bumblebees, squirrels, other cats, flowers, trees. Not to mention passers-by of uncounted numbers.
Meals and snacks come in handy. As do walks in the historic neighborhood and nearby downtown Snohomish.
And if you know me, rubber stamping provides mental breaks and opportunities for creativity.
This mermaid card was made with rubber cling stamps, watercolor paints, patterned paper, and a bit of glitter glue. She’s pretty cute, isn’t she?
From me to you. You are MER-MAZING! And don’t forget it.
Just before Christmas, our family was devastated to discover neighborhood dogs had destroyed our precious love-love (my nickname for her) Mabel. It was pretty awful. We still miss our little gray girl every day.
No more “Which one is this?” from the grands (and everyone else). No more help working on my writing projects. No more kitty tracks on my printed papers. No more head butts and lap cuddles.
Monet, her twin sister, was lost for quite a few weeks and is now just finally starting to come into her own as an ONLY cat. There are times she quite enjoys the attention. The rest of the time she’d rather be out mousing or birding. She was always the more independent wild thing.
To combat future attacks, we put up a gate on our driveway to discourage any other dogs from wandering in to check out what trouble they could get into. As Papa and Hayden finished up the gate, they decided it should be named after Mabel, a tribute to her short, cuddly, furry life.
Perfect! In honor of our Mabes, Mabel, love-love, gray girl, kitty baby. The MABEL gate. Ta-da!
by Angie Quantrell
every. single. day.
dead stuff is delivered.
fur. teeth. tails. tiny feet.
feathers. skulls. wings asunder.
the odd beak.
legless bugs. drips of blood.
eerie green body parts.
dead stuff. in life. in dreams.
felines hard at work.
freeze. winter. come soon.
put to ground the endless corpses
delivered as gifts.
pause the need for caution
when opening the door or
placing feet along the body strewn gravel,
blending in, creating traps for thoughtless tread.
drop. temperature. ice-over.
to sleep. to fly south. to hibernate.
what happened to lumps of fur nested
in front of roaring fires?
rest, kitties, rest.
I know it’s cold in the RV. In fact, sometimes it’s Jack Frost icy. I realize that furry coats don’t always do the job in the warm-me-up department. I even acknowledge that though there are only 2 of you (and you are sisters from the SAME litter), touching each other often causes undo excitement, hissy fits, and flying bits of gray fluff.
We have a queen bed. In the RV. Crammed into a tiny alcove. Six-foot two-inch hubby requires most of the square footage available on said bed. That leaves me a tiny sliver, I’d even say the edge is my only slumber real estate.
I know we have an electric blanket. I admit to enjoying the toasty slide into pre-warmed sheets. The heater ducts blow comfortably hot air into our bedroom. This makes our room the most desirable location during long winter nights.
It also makes me be squished.
Sliver of bed. Closet alcove for darkness naps. Tall husband. Two cats.
Kitties. I have short legs. But even then, when you are both snuggled and sleeping like furry gray rocks along the bottom of the bed, I am left with nowhere to put my feet.
Out of the covers? Brrrr. Between you? This is one event where you allow yourselves to touch, even become glued together with your sibling. Beneath you? Your elephanty weight belies your small stature. Against the hubby? Uhm, his long legs leave no room. Up against your warm bodies it is then.
A ball. You will find me rolled on my side up near the outer wall of the RV. Sushi roll style, head wedged against the “dresser,” shoulders along the “headboard,” hands and knees tucked into the middle like bits of julienned carrots and radishes. The seaweed wrap of electric blanket coccooning me. And there the sushi mama roll will stay all night, on her less than 1/4 of the bed area.
You, my kitties, will have plenty of sleeping room. Purring contentedly, stretching at ease, lengthening and contracting with the rise and fall of space and temperatures.
Thanks for keeping us company and for blanketing our bed with your heat and snuggles. I don’t mind sharing with you. Not a bit.
Sleep well, feline foot warmers.
The Sushi Kitty Mama
I can’t stand it!
Two fresh pine trees outside, one planted and one cut, both decorated with white lights and silver stars and well watered. One potted artificial tree with blue lights next to the door. That doesn’t cut it for me, the lover of all things Christmas tree. The inside of the RV was too bare.
But with 2 kitties, lack of floor space, and no extra counter space, what is one to do?
Get a tree anyway.
Welcome little plastic tree, pre-wired and covered with plastic ornaments. Thank you for lighting up our indoor Christmas space. I know the kitties can’t hurt you, though they try, and you can’t (shouldn’t?) break.
So again, welcome. How lovely are your tiny little fake branches and your cheerful glow!
Outdoor Tree Update: The Christmas tree down count is 3 wind events, which equals 3 pick-up-the-tree-and-replace-the-stars outings.
How about you? How many trees do you have? Do you have to pet-proof your Christmas decor? I’d love to hear I am not alone!
Baby pictures – Monet and Mabel
By Angie Quantrell @AngieQuantrell
Today is National Pet Day.
Here are our two highly energetic and trouble-seeking felines, Mabel and Monet.
The sisters are camera shy and any attempt to take photos results in instant movement, waltzing away from the scene, aloof attitudes, or disdainful staring away from the camera. Loving eye shots are not allowed. No. Not at all.
Mabel of the gorgeous eyes
Our cats love to:
– climb the walls (literally)
– chase, capture, and bring in wildlife (birds, worms, mice, rats)
– pretend they live at the home of neighbors (your choice; we see them regularly lazing in the yards or coming home from 5 different yards – none of which are ours)
– leave hair everywhere
– recline on the kitchen table
– claim any unfurred piece of furniture until it is redecorated in white, gray, and tan fur
– play catch the lazer (or string, or cord, or feathers, or toes…)
– steal rubberbands
– eat daddy-long-legs
– try and potty in the garden beds
– tease the neighborhood bully cat with friendship, and then turn about squawling as if ripped limb from limb (this also results in the male boy spraying regularly on several key locations, house included)
– race loudly and wildly through the house
– be wherever we are
– sleep on fuzzy blankets
Monet with the striped tail
Oh, there is more. They are cats. You get the idea. We are not allowed cat fur free clothing, bird feeders, or litter free carpets.
But we love them. Entertainment, affection, company, lap warmers, snugglers. I guess we’ll keep them.
Monet depositing hair and cat litter
Do you need some great ideas of things to do on National Pet Day? I found a Web site that shared several suggestions. Just click this link. National Pet Day
What kind of pets do you have? I’d love to see and hear about them.
Mabel claiming the center of the bed
Happy National Pet Day!