A note about The Cuddlywumps Chronicles

This blog is written and maintained by Miss Cuddlywumps, a fluffy-tailed calico cat who is both classically educated and familiar with mysteries. She receives creative input from the Real Cats and clerical assistance from She of Little Talent (old SoLT, a.k.a. Roby Sweet). Comments or complaints should be addressed to Miss C rather than to old SoLt (Ms. Sweet). Ms. Sweet accepts no responsibility for Miss C's opinions.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Cat of the Week: Cinnamon in Baltimore

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Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life!


Adopt Cinnamon! 7-yr-old female Maine Coon/Mix, Baltimore


Today we’d like you to meet Cinnamon, a 7-year-old female Maine Coon/Mix. As you can see, Cinnamon is a lovely orange and white tabby. She enjoys getting attention, and she is known to be talkative. She’s also quite easy going and loves being held and cuddled (sounds great, doesn’t it?). She has lived with kids and another cat before.


Cinnamon is currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about her here.

Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!



Are you a dog lover? (It’s okay; we understand if you are—sort of.) Well, if you love dogs and are in the Baltimore area, make plans now to attend DogFest 2017 on Saturday, September 16. You can get discounted tickets online through September 14.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Book Review: Cat About Town


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On this Mysterious Monday, we bring you our review of a page-turning series debut by Cate Conte, whom you may also know as Liz Mugavero, author of the Pawsitively Organic mysteries. The new series, Cat Café mysteries, begins with Cat About Town, a book with an excellent cat, a solid mystery, and some pretty good laughs.

The plot

Cat About Town, a Cat Cafe Mystery by Cate Conte
First, I have to tell you that the description of the book on Amazon is not quite accurate. Wethinks whoever wrote it was more interested in slipping in cutesies like “frisky,” “purrfect,” and “cat’s pajamas” than in finding out what is actually in the book. Second, I will tell you that what is actually in the book is a lot more interesting than the description would indicate.

And now we begin, with one Maddie James, who has come home to New England and the small, touristy Daybreak Island to mourn the death of her grandmother. Maddie has a life on the other side of the country now, in San Francisco, where she and a business partner own a successful juice bar. So she’ll be on the island for just a little while. Only, she meets this cat, and then she finds out her grandfather is in some kind of trouble, and then she and he become suspects in a murder…

But I should back up a bit.

Maddie’s grandfather was once the chief of police. Now he’s retired, and times are not so easy. The old house needs major repairs that he can’t afford. A slimeball named Frank O’Malley wants to buy the house—or rather, wants to force Grandpa to sell. Maddie, good granddaughter that she is, gets riled up about this and arranges a lunch meeting with Frank, during which she says some angry things to him. Next thing you know, her new cat runs off among the tents of the town’s annual Food Stroll while the vendors are still setting up. Maddie chases after him, and he leads her into one particular tent … and right to Frank O’Malley’s extremely dead body.

Not bad for a cat who doesn’t even have a name yet, right? (See “The Cat,” below, for more on this.)

Anyway, finding the body of a person you had sort of a little bit threatened earlier is one sure way to make yourself a murder suspect. That is what Maddie becomes, putting her in close contact with her old flame Craig, who is now on the police force. Perhaps not the best way to rekindle an old romance. Having another hot guy potentially in the picture (one who loves animals, is in a band, is hot—oh, did I mention that one already?) also complicates things. Plus the fact that Maddie doesn’t even plan on sticking around. She’ll be back to San Fran as soon as all this mess is cleared up, right? The fact that someone keeps leaving her articles about cat cafés is just some weird, random thing, right?

The Cat

The cat is an orange tabby whom Maddie first meets in the cemetery during her grandmother’s funeral. He seems to be seeking Maddie out, as though knowing she will care for him. She does not name him right away, choosing instead to call him Orange Guy. (“Orange Guy”? Really, Maddie? That’s like calling me “Splotchy Girl.” Not a good name for a cat of quality.) But she does eventually name him JJ (better—much better). JJ actually becomes something of a celebrity, as he is called a “hero cat” for finding the body, thus alerting authorities to the murder. JJ takes right away to walking on a harness and leash, and he becomes a wonderful companion for Maddie. We love how, instead of having the robust meow one might expect, JJ squeaks. How endearing! (The orange cat whom JJ is based on was interviewed by our friend Mudpie. Check it out if you haven’t already!)

Our verdict

We have tried really hard, and we cannot think of anything about Cat About Town that we did not like. Maddie is a fun character to get to know, and we fell in love with JJ right away (that squeak!). The mystery kept us guessing with plenty of potentially guilty people, and the book’s climax is appropriately thrilling. We can’t wait to see how the cat café turns out in future installments.

Two paws way up!

Two Paws Up--A Great Read!


A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Real Cat Webster Plays Bridge

Yesterday, Real Cat Webster pretended to be a puma for our eclipse Caturday Art; today in his Sunday Selfie, he is playing bridge. Not the card game--he's pretending to be an actual bridge:

Real Cat Webster Plays Bridge

He is in the living room, bridging Side Table Gorge. Very brave, Webster!

Webs thought you might not be able to tell from the first selfie that he is actually a bridge, so he asked old SoLT to take this profile shot too:

Real Cat Webster Playing Bridge, profile


We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Caturday Art: Webster Eats the Sun

For this week's Caturday Art, we chose to provide a cultural and educational message in our art. It is about the coming eclipse, or any eclipse really, as you can see:

Real Cat Webster Eats the Sun--eclipse 2017

Earlier this week, old SoLT learned that some people who lived in the Andes region of South America had a totally different name for the constellation we know as Gemini, or the Twins. They called it Puma Yunta, or Two Pumas. They said that sometimes, one of these pumas would jump up and try to eat the sun (many cultures explained solar eclipses by saying an animal was eating the sun). So we thought it would be fun to have Real Cat Webster play the puma in our illustration.

The "constellation" we made is not meant to illustrate the actual Puma Yunta. We just thought it would be fun to put some stars on Webster.

The source for the Puma Yunta story is Art, Nature, and Religion in the Central Andes, by Mary Strong.

We're pleased to be joining the Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena and Marie!


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Friday, August 18, 2017

Words with Webster: Eclipse, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun Friday features for you today. First up is Real Cat Webster, who has a sunny word (or should I say, sunny with a chance of sudden darkness?). And then we have Friendly Fill-Ins.

Words with Webster: Eclipse


Words with Webster badge
Hi, everybody. It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is “eclipse.” If you live in the United States like I do, then I bet you have heard this word a lot lately. That’s because next Monday, August 21, there will be a total solar eclipse that crosses the country from Oregon to South Carolina. Mommy is disappointed that we won’t get a total eclipse where we live. I told her she could probably see it on YouTube, and she said that’s not the same.

Now about the word. “Eclipse” means “the obscuration of one celestial body by another,” according to my favorite dictionary, Webster’s. This means that one thing out in space gets in the way of our view of another one. This word has been around for a very long time, since at least 1374 or thereabouts, when Chaucer included this sentence in his translation of Boethius’s De consolation philosophiae:
When the moon is in the eclips.
Later, in 1608, Shakespeare wrote in King Lear,
These late eclipses in the Sunne and Moone portend no good to us. (ii.103)
Let’s hope that the coming eclipse portends something good, like people getting along with each other and not being mean.

2017 Solar Eclipse Across America--Adobe Stock image
The path the eclipse will take across the continental US.
Adobe Stock image.
Anyway, our English word comes from Old French eclipse, which comes from the Latin eclpīsis, and ultimately from Greek εκλείπειν, which means literally “to forsake its accustomed place, fail to appear.”

That is all very interesting, but I’ll bet you’re wondering what eclipses have to do with cats, right? Well, according to what Mommy and I found online, not a lot (but come back tomorrow for our Caturday Art to see one thing we did find!). Your cat probably won’t even notice that anything is different, other than the humans are acting all weird, putting on funny glasses and going outside to stare up at the sky. (Seriously, your cats will probably be fine; they’ll just think that you have finally gone off the deep end.) BUT … (cue ominous music) … during the 2015 eclipse across the UK, at least one person tweeted that the animals, including her cats, were “going nuts.” Other people reported their dogs acting weird (as if that’s news, right?). Those reports seemed isolated though, but we’d be interested to know if any of you cats out there get any strange feelings or urges during the eclipse.

Friendly Fill-Ins

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And now it’s time for Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by Real Cat Paisley this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by old SoLT, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley's answers:

1. If someone were visiting my area, I would recommend a visit to the cat tree in our sunroom. It is really neat and provides a perfect view of the backyard. (Old SoLT adds, You must see the monuments in Washington, DC, if you have never been, whichever parts of the Smithsonian most interest you, and in Baltimore, the Inner Harbor and National Aquarium.)

2. My favorite room in my home is the sunroom, obviously.


Old SoLT's answers:

3. Back-to-school time makes me think of getting spiral notebooks and office supplies on sale.

4. My favourite year of school was none of them, because, oddly, although I’m really curious and love learning new things, I never enjoyed school much. Fourth-grade recess was pretty fun, I think. I remember playing basketball a lot and also running through the middle of the boys' dodge ball game. Good times!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Black Cat Appreciation Day 2017

Today, August 17, is Black Cat Appreciation Day, and we wanted to take a moment to remind you why black cats are terrific. We have written a fair amount about black cats in the past, so we'll be sharing links to some of those posts.

Black is beautiful--Black Cat Appreciation Day 2017First off, a black cat is really just a cat who happens to have a black coat. We don't know why some people have such a "thing" about them. Oh, sure, there's the old "black cats bring bad luck" issue, but in plenty of places around the world, black cats are believed to bring good luck. See our posts on Black Cat Superstitions and A Guide to Cats, Colors, and Luck for more on black cats and luck.

We think black cats are some of the most beautiful cats around. Their dark coats complement any decor and go with any outfit. Also, holding a black cat is very slimming (note: this is a made-up "fact" that may or may not be true). The basic beauty of black cats makes us wonder why they get passed over at animal shelters. We wrote about that in Black Cat Syndrome May Be Real.

Finally, old SoLT has known one black cat whom she thought was pretty extraordinary. We wrote about Jack last year for Black Cat Appreciation Day.



Let's all take some time today to cherish the black cats in our lives, remember those black cats we've known in the past, and celebrate black cats everywhere!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Cat of the Week: Midnight Moon in Baltimore

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Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt an older cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life!



Cat of the Week: Midnight Moon in Baltimore
Today, please meet Midnight Moon. He is nice, quiet guy who is 7 years old. Midnight Moon is a Maine Coon mix, but he is not one of those giant Maine Coons you see on the internet; he’s described as a medium-sized cat. He is a brown tabby with a stylish white ruff on his chest (he even has some ear furnishings!), and he enjoys getting head and neck rubs. He also enjoys gazing out the window. Midnight Moon (we love that name!) has lived with kids before. He also lived with his sister Cinnamon, a 7-year-old orange & white tabby also available for adoption. Seriously, if old SoLT’s home wasn’t already at maximum cat capacity, she would drive over to meet these guys today!


Midnight Moon is currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about him here.





Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!


Are you a dog lover? (It’s okay; we understand if you are—sort of.) Well, if you love dogs and are in the Baltimore area, make plans now to attend DogFest 2017 on Saturday, September 16. You can get discounted tickets online through September 14.

Monday, August 14, 2017

App Review: Simon’s Cat—Crunch Time

Simon's Cat--Crunch Time
Today we bring you our review of a relatively new match-3 game: Simon’s Cat—Crunch Time. We love Simon’s Cat, so we have been looking forward to trying this game. Turns out it is really cute and very easy to learn, but on the levels labeled “Hard,” they are not kidding!

Easy to start…

In Crunch Time, you are basically taking a trip through a series of backyards and fields. To progress through the levels, you solve match-3 puzzles by connecting strings of colorful cat treats. The puzzles present different scenarios. In one scenario, your object is to feed the cats by collecting a certain number of each kind of treat. In another, you match treats to collect the fish crackers hidden underneath them. There’s another where you feed a dog, and one where you collect acorns to throw at a squirrel.

Of course it starts out super-easy. But pretty soon you reach the levels that allow you only a certain number of moves to complete your objective. If you run out of moves before you’ve fed all the cats or whatever, you lose a life. (You start with four lives; if you use them all up, they will regenerate over time.) You can also do a “Level Rush,” in which you try to complete a certain number of levels within a time limit. And of course you can compete with other players, but we aren’t into all that, so we don’t pay any attention to it. C’mon, we mainly want to see the cute cats and have something to do during commercials while we’re watching TV, right?

Old SoLT made this video of herself playing one of the early levels. Looks easy, right?

video


But then it gets more difficult…


Simon's Cat--Crunch Time_screen shot 1
This is a shot of the early part of your journey, when things are
pretty easy. We love the little scenes you come across as you
advance through the levels.
There are boosters you can use to help you clear a level (by clearing a whole row for you, for example), but be careful how you use them. Old SoLT squandered her boosters on some levels just because she wanted to get through them quickly, but now she is stuck on level 53 and has no boosters to help her (there are videos on YouTube about how to get past level 53, so she is not the only person who has this problem). She also doesn’t have enough coins to buy any more, and it is really not that easy to get coins. You get them for achieving certain things (“complete level 50,” for example), but these don’t come along too often, and they will typically get you only two, three, or maybe five coins. A booster costs 70 coins. Yes, you can use real money to buy things, but we rarely do that in games, at least not this early into a game. You can also earn coins and boosters by watching ads—1 coin or 1 booster per ad, but everything you want to buy costs 70 coins (thought that was worth repeating!).

But we didn’t come here to talk about money. Our real point is that if you want to get very far in Crunch Time, you need to pay attention to what you’re doing. You need a strategy. This is a simple game to learn, but on those levels labeled “Hard,” be prepared to put your little gray cells to work. (BTW, “little gray cells” means your brain cells—just in case you’re not familiar with Poirot, or brains.) And if you get to a point where you are out of boosters and low on coins, well, you are pretty well stuck with playing that level over and over until you either get it or give up.

Our verdict

Simon's Cat--Crunch Time_screen shot 2
At a much higher level than we're at now, you'll come
across this neat crop circle along your journey.
This is a fun game and we do enjoy playing it—we love the graphics!— but we think it could be tweaked to enhance the fun factor. We like that Crunch Time is challenging—it would be boring if there were no challenge to it—but we wish you could accumulate coins more quickly so you’d at least feel like you had a chance of being able to buy boosters when you need them. We feel like we’re being pushed into buying stuff to continue with the game, and that annoys us. That’s often THE thing that makes us stop playing a game. We’d like to go back and replay some of the lower levels to earn coins (that's what we do in other games), but that’s just not how this game works; we’ve been playing lower levels for a few days now and have earned exactly zero coins.

So, we regret that we can only give Crunch Time one paw up. This saddens us, because we wanted to love this game, but the deal with the coins is just too annoying. (While writing this review, old SoLT has used up all four of her lives—again—on level 53. Each time, she is just one or two moves away from getting that stupid mole!)

Details


Simon’s Cat—Crunch Time is published by Strawdog and is available for iOS and Android devices. We played on an iPad. The download is free, and you can make in-app purchases. 

One Paw Up--a good app!

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Strikes a Pose

This week, our Sunday Selfie comes to us courtesy of Real Cat Paisley, who was kind enough to strike a pose in the sunroom while old SoLT was in there with the good camera. Thank you, Paisley!

Real Cat Paisley in Sunroom, August 2017

We are joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Caturday Art: Find the Kitty!

We are sharing our Caturday Art today, even though the blog hop unfortunately had to be cancelled this week. If you haven't already, we hope you'll send a message of cheer and best wishes to Athena and her person, Marie.

In today's first artwork, we have accidentally created a challenge for you. There is a (highly stylized) cat in this picture. Can you find him--without scrolling down to see the original? (If you need a hint: It's not a little tiny kitty cat hidden amongst the swirly bits, so don't go looking for your magnifying glass. Just look for something that resembles a face.)

Real Cat Webster with Jeweled Bird effect

Did you find him? We didn't think it was too hard, though you do have to use your imagination. Here's a different artified version of the same picture. It's Real Cat Webster, sitting in a pet bed. He looks sort of glowy in this one:

Real Cat Webster with Irises Effect

Both of these pictures were created in Dreamscope. The top one is the Jeweled Bird effect, and the bottom one is the Irises effect.

 Here's the original:

Real Cat Webster in brown cat bed



Friday, August 11, 2017

Friendly Fill-Ins

Today we have just one fun Friday feature for you. Real Cat Webster has a word all picked out for Words with Webster, but old SoLT said something about having “entirely too much work,” whatever that means. Anyway, she says she doesn’t have time to help Webs look up his word or type it all out for you. Next week, she says!

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We are pleased to have Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by old SoLT this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by Real Cat Paisley, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Old SoLT’s answers:
1. Blind dates—never been on one, never want to go on one!

2. Thirty years ago, I graduated from high school. I know it’s been that long because my class just had a 30-year reunion, and people keep posting pictures of it on Facebook. I recognize exactly two of my former classmates.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:
3. I admire tigers because they are big and fierce and beautiful. I’ll bet no one tells a tiger, “No, honey, it’s not time to eat yet,” or “Here, you can have four of these little, tiny treats”!


4. Our dog makes me think evolution went wrong somewhere. Dogs are so clearly some sort of horrible mistake, like that movie "The Fly," where the guy turns into a fly? That's how we got dogs, I'm pretty sure!

Real Cat Paisley in her thinking bowl

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Getting Ready for Remember Me Thursday

Remember Me Thursday--September 28, 2017
This is what we got from Remember the Rescue to help us help them
spread the word about Remember Me Thursday, on September 28, 2017.
When we were at the BlogPaws Conference in Myrtle Beach a few months ago (has it really been that long?), we met a really nice lady from the Helen Woodward Animal Center. She told us all about Remember the Rescue and Remember Me Thursday, which happens on September 28,  2017.  This year will be the fifth year for this event, which focuses on highlighting pet adoption and remembering all those terrific pets who are stuck in shelters. Unfortunately, many of those pets will die before they find a home.

Years ago, when old SoLT was in high school, she volunteered one summer at the local animal shelter. This was back before “no-kill” shelters were a thing. Every week at this shelter, animals—most of them beautiful, adoptable animals—were picked out to be euthanized because space needed to be made for incoming animals. Sometimes the rationale for euthanizing a cat was, “Well, you’ve been here a week and haven’t caught anyone’s eye. It’s time to give someone else a chance,” or “There’s another cat in intake that looks just like you. Let’s give him a chance.”

Heartbreaking does not begin to describe it.

We want to emphasize that this was not some horrible, dark place where animals weren’t well cared for. This was a shelter where the staff and volunteers really cared about the animals who ended up there. But the reality was, there was limited space and there was no rescue organization (at least so far as old SoLT knew) that would swoop in and take pets who were in danger of being euthanized simply because the shelter needed to make room.

I write to save lives--Remember the Rescue--September 28, 2017
That’s why we’re so proud to be participating in Remember Me Thursday this year. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know that on most Tuesdays, we feature a mature adult or senior cat who needs a forever home. We do that in honor of the older cats we’ve known who have been so special to us. We do that because we know there are many older cats who lose their home and aren’t lucky enough to land in a no-kill shelter. Perhaps they were someone’s beloved pet for years and years, but when their person died or became unable to care for them, to the shelter they went. Too many of them will never know what it is to be loved again because, even though they may have years of life left in them, they will never make it out of that shelter. This is intolerable. No pet deserves to die because they have lost their home, or have never had one.


We want you to be ready to take a moment, or longer, to remember all those pets in shelters on Remember Me Thursday, so we’re announcing it today, to give you time to get ready. You can find out a lot more at remembermethursday.org. Plan to light a candle in honor of a rescue pet who has touched your life, and in honor of the shelter pets who are just waiting for a chance to touch someone’s life. Then commit to helping those pets in any way you can: financially, with your time—or by adopting one!

Save the date!
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Wherever you are, light a candle for a rescue pet & all those who are waiting!

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Happy World Cat Day 2017!

We have a simple message for you today:

To all kitties, wherever you are on the world, Happy World Cat Day!, August 8, 2017


If you are a cat, today you should act as though the world is yours, because it is!

If you are a human who lives with a cat or two (or more), today you should treat your cats as though the world is theirs, because it is! (Extra pets and treats, wethinks.)

If you are a human who does not currently live with a cat, what's wrong with you? Having the right cat in your life can make all sorts of things a whole lot better. Check out some adoptable cats in your area. Here's a good place to start if you happen to live in the Baltimore area: Baltimore Humane Society. Bonus points for adopting a mature adult or senior cat (7 years +)!


Monday, August 7, 2017

Book Review: A Hiss Before Dying

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We are always excited to start one of Rita Mae Brown’s Mrs. Murphy mysteries. The world she writes of—Crozet, Virginia, and its environs—is so beautifully and richly described, we expect to look out our window and see the Blue Ridge Mountains. And her characters, whom we have been reading of for over twenty years now, are like old friends. Of course there is a cat—two, in fact, or three, if you count Sneaky Pie Brown, Rita Mae’s coauthor. And there’s a dog (whatever…). Add in other pets, horses, even wild animals, all able to talk to each other, although the humans don’t understand them. The mysteries are pleasingly complex and sometimes have an element of history to them, which you know we love. A Hiss Before Dying has all this, and its parallel historical story resolves some issues brought up in the previous book, Tall Tail.

A Hiss Before Dying, by Rita Mae & Sneaky Pie BrownThe plot: Present

A Hiss Before Dying gets off to a gruesome start as Mary Minor (“Harry”) Haristeen’s animals (tiger cat Mrs. Murphy, corgi Tee Tucker, and overweight gray cat Pewter) spot a bald eagle flying off with a human eyeball grasped in its talon. Then the humans discover that something rather unfortunate has happened to a driver who was supposed to deliver a truckload of cars to a dealership. (Hint: Parts of him are missing.) That situation quickly becomes secondary though, as another body is discovered, this one a black man with no identification other than a slave chit around his neck. These chits, we learn, were given to slaves who were sent to carry messages and such from one plantation to another; they were meant to indicate that the slave was on legitimate business and was not a runaway. So the modern-day mystery is all about finding out who this dead man was and what he was doing that got him killed. Also, something weird is going on at a local church’s cemetery: someone keeps tipping over two specific headstones and messing around with the soil near them. What could that be about?

Harry starts out getting only a little bit involved in all of this, but when an attempt is made on her life too, that’s it: She’s involved. And she’s not one to sit home and wait for something to happen, so whoever’s after her had better just watch out.

The plot: Past

The parallel story is set in 1786, when the United States was a brand-new nation just trying to find its way. A slave has run away from her cruel mistress and from the even crueler slave who seems to actually run things. Some are intent on finding the runaway and collecting the reward, while others are happy to keep her hidden. Interestingly, the very slave chits mentioned as part of the modern mystery also show up here. The answer to one of the modern mysteries also lies here in the past. Oh, and there is even a duel with pistols at ten paces—on a foggy morning, no less.

Our verdict

We love a book with a strong sense of place, and Brown’s books certainly have that. She writes of Albemarle County, Virginia, a place she knows well, and everything from her descriptions of the weather to the way her characters talk works to put you in that place. The historical sections, set on the same land over 200 years earlier than the main mystery, give the setting and modern story an extra richness. We enjoyed listening in on the debates over which direction the young country should take. The modern mystery is not a simple one, though the clues are there and we had our suspicions. And of course the animals.… They aren’t really integral to solving the mystery, but they are always around, and their chatter amongst themselves is often good for some comic relief. They know the places of the story in a different way, and they often know things the humans do not. Mrs. Murphy is the very first cozy mystery cat we ever read, years ago, and we shall always love her.


Highly recommended!

Two paws up--a great read!

A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Best Friends

 This week's Sunday Selfie is of both Real Cats enjoying the late-morning sun at the back door. Alert readers will notice that this is the same photo used as the basis for Caturday Art yesterday.

Real Cats Paisley and Webster_Best Friends selfie

We are joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head.

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Saturday, August 5, 2017

Caturday Art: The Real Cats in a Sun Puddle in Barcelona

Today we join Athena's Caturday Art blog hop with the following offering of the Real Cats sitting in a sun puddle in Barcelona. Of course, they weren't really in Barcelona. They were in Maryland, as always, only old SoLT used the Barcelona art effect from Lunapic. We like how the sun puddle got outlined so it looks like a solid something:

Real Cats in Sun Puddle_Barcelona filter

And as a bonus entry, here is the same picture, but with the Alien Plant effect from Dreamscope:


Real Cats in Sun Puddle_Alien Plant effect

And here is the original:

Real Cats in Sun Puddle_original

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Friday, August 4, 2017

Words with Webster: Ear Furnishings, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We have two fun features for you this Friday. First up is Words with Webster, in which he tells us about something…hairy. This is followed by Friendly Fill-Ins.

Words with Webster

Words with WebsterHi, all! It’s me, Real Cat Webster. Welcome to Words with Me. Today’s word is two words: “ear furnishings.” Mommy laughs a little when she hears “ear furnishings,” because it always makes her think of a cat with a sofa coming out of his ear. (I don’t know why she picks something big like a sofa; a stool or smallish occasional table would be more realistic.) Anyway, that's not what ear furnishings are. They're actually those tufts of fur that some cats have in their ears.  You know, like Persians or Norwegian Forest Cats have (please see the helpful illustration below).

I looked up “furnishing” in my favorite dictionary, Webster’s, and it said, “an ornamental appendage of an animal.” Then I looked it up in the Oxford English Dictionary, which says furnishings are “decoration” or “unimportant appendages; mere externals.” It doesn’t say anything about animals specifically. (For the record, I don’t think we could call cats’ ear furnishings “unimportant”; certainly the cats that have them think they’re pretty important!)

The word "furnishing" seems to have first appeared in print in the 1490s. The "decoration" meaning came along 100 years later, and the "unimportant appendages" one appeared in about 1616, in Shakespeare's King Lear:
Something deeper, Whereof (perchance) these are but furnishings. (III.i.20)
 I looked for, like, five minutes but couldn’t find out when “furnishings” was first used to mean the fur tufts in cats’ ears. If anyone happens to know, please share!

Image--How to identify ear furnishings in cats
Use this handy guide to help you distinguish cats' ear furnishings
from common furnishings such as sofas.

Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-InsAnd now it’s time for Friendly Fill-Ins, from 15andmeowing and McGuffy’s Reader. They are a fun way to learn a little bit about the authors of the blogs you read. The first two questions, answered by Real Cat Paisley this week, are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two, answered by old SoLT, are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader.

Real Cat Paisley’s answers:

1. Meetings? I’m a cat; I don’t do meetings.

2. Rules? I’m a cat; I don’t do rules.

Old SoLT’s answers:

3. The best time to get up in the morning is early—anytime before six is good; after that is “late.”
4. I have learned that generous doses of humor and laughter will help you get through a lot of life’s rough patches.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Favorite Old Cat Books

Walter Chandoah's Book of Kittens and Cats, 1963 ed.
It may not look like much on the outside (and without
the dust jacket, which was lost years and years ago),
but inside are some wonderful cat photos.
We have put together a short post today, due to lack of time on old SoLT’s part (some of us prefer to call this “lack of planning,” but whatever). For a while now, old SoLT has been wanting to share a couple of cat books from her childhood. They are books she has had seemingly forever, and to call them well-worn is a kindness; they are far from falling apart, but they do show their years of being owned by a child who turned their pages over and over and over.

Walter Chandoah’s Book of Kittens and Cats


The first is Walter Chandoah’s Book of Kittens and Cats. This book has gone through several editions, the earliest published in 1963 by Bramhall House. This is the one old SoLT has. It doesn’t look like much, but it is double special to her because its first page is inscribed:
Presented to Sarah Marie Andrews on the occasion of her 6th birthday, December 22, 1974
Betty Van Zandt
She remembers being so honored to be presented with a book (and a grown-up book, no less!), and through the years she has read the inscription many, many times. Sadly, today she has no idea who Betty Van Zandt was.

Walter Chandoah (b. 1920) is a rather famous cat photographer, and this book is a collection of black and white photos of…kittens and cats. To old SoLT, they are iconic photos that are firmly etched in her memory. When she thinks of cats, often she still thinks of Chandoah’s photos. Used copies can be found on Amazon (this is not an affiliate link). You can follow Chandoah on Instagram.


The Cat Catalog: The Ultimate Cat Book

Cat Catalog: The Ultimate Cat Book
The Cat Catalog is so packed with interesting
information, it is hard to stop turning its pages.
The second book is The Cat Catalog: The Ultimate Cat Book, edited by Judy Fireman. Old SoLT does not know when she received this book, but it was published in 1976 by Workman, and she thinks she has had it since around that time. This book has fascinated her through the years because it contains page after page of stories and articles about everything cat. It is all so very interesting, from “The Historical Cat” to “The Medical Cat” and “The Legal Cat.” She still comes to it for blog post ideas (recognizing that some of its information may be out of date). Used copies are readily available: (Amazon buy link) Cat Catalog: The Ultimate Cat Book 



Those are old SoLT’s favorite old cat books. What about you? Do you have any treasured cat books from childhood (or adulthood—we’re not picky)? Please share in the comments!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Cats of the Week: Milly May and Spencer

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Each week in this space, we feature an older adult or senior cat (7 years +) in need of adoption or sponsorship. Mature cats make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt a senior cat, and help them enjoy the best years of their life!

Milly May and Spencer--Baltimore Humane SocietyThis week we’re introducing a bonded pair who must be adopted together. Milly May is an 8-year-old female, and her brother Spencer is an 8-year-old male. They’re both pretty laid back. Favorite things include comfy beds and head rubs. Sometimes the simple things are the best, right? They have lived with a child and a dog before.

Why get two cats? Well for one thing, they will keep each other company when you’re not home. For another, it’s fun to watch the interactions of two cats who are friendly with each other. Each pair will have their own dynamics, of course, but the Real Cats groom each other, play and chase other (and they’re 12 years old!), and yes, occasionally get into an, um, disagreement. It’s never boring. Finally, you know you’ve given a loving home to not one cat but two—and freed up two spaces in the shelter!

Milly May and Spencer are currently at the Baltimore Humane Society. Learn more about them here and here.


Can’t adopt? You can still help! Check out Sammy’s Cat Necessities Fund, which provides money for everyday and medical needs of cats at the Baltimore Humane Society. You can also make a general donation or sponsor a particular animal on this page. Every little bit helps!


Ravens fans!

The Baltimore Humane Society is raffling off 2017 season tickets! Raffle tickets start at $10. What a great way to support homeless pets in the Baltimore area while getting a chance to win those season tickets you’ve been dreaming of.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Book Review: Seawind

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On this Mysterious Monday, we review M. Blackwell’s Seawind, a short book that we were promised had many of our favorite things: a haunted inn, an anthropologist, and a magical black cat. Boy, did it deliver!

The plot

Seawind, by M. BlackwellSamantha Black (Sam) is an anthropologist who finds herself out of work. She’s trying to be an author, but the royalties aren’t exactly flowing in. We meet her as she’s lost on Cape Cod. A wrong turn brings her to Seawind, a weathered old home complete with gables. It’s now an inn that frankly has seen better days. Unfortunately the new innkeeper, Beth, who recently inherited the place, is barely able to pay the bills, much less make improvements. She does have a spectacular chef, Phil, and now she has a new dishwasher, Sam.

Sam moves into the attic rooms and begins settling in to her new, if temporary, life. It’s not bad, actually. She’s on the Cape in the off season, so there’s no pesky tourists crowding the beaches—great for long walks. But things get weird one night when Sam sees a ghost, and not just a ghost, an evil ghost. There is something unmistakably cruel and menacing about this man straight out of the nineteenth century. Even weirder is the strange wind, also supernatural, that chases the evil figure away. This, it transpires, is the Wild Hunt, straight out of myth and legend.

This event leads Sam into a search for the truth about the evil figure she saw and the supernatural wind pursuing him. As strange and violent events continue to happen on the Cape, she uses her research skills and teams up with a folklorist to delve into Seawind’s history and the myth of the Hunt to basically answer two questions: (1) Who is this man the Hunt is after? and (2) How can Sam and the other residents of the inn put a stop to the turmoil the Hunt is causing?

 As it turns out, solving the problem of all that supernatural stuff is a job for a cat.

Sebastian the cat

The main cat in Seawind is Sebastian, a handsome black fellow. According to the folklorist, cats know a lot about supernatural things (of course some of us already knew this). Though we don’t see Sebastian a lot throughout the book, we do get a glimpse of him every once in a while, and not surprisingly, it is he who saves the day by appearing at just the right moment. Another black cat makes a brief and touching appearance at the book’s end. This was just one of the things that made Seawind a very satisfying read.

Our verdict

Seawind is an engrossing read that we found hard to put down. It is also a fairly quick read (an estimated 79 pages), and it does indeed have many of our favorite things. First, the story is intriguing, and much of the writing is beautiful—especially the descriptions of Cape Cod in autumn. Those made us want to pack up and go straight there. Then there is the ghost. We love a good ghost, and an evil ghost being pursued by other supernatural forces.… Oh yes, please! The supernatural element is not scary (at least we didn't find it scary), and it adds a layer of mystery that also is what leads Sam into her search through the history of the house and surrounding area. The mythical element, the Hunt, is a sort of bonus, and of course we loved how Sebastian the cat is the key to quieting the Hunt and returning things to normal—or better than normal.

Our only complaint is that we wish Seawind were longer. Old SoLT’s inner editor kept seeing passages that could be expanded to give more detail of daily life at the inn, places where the historical and mythical elements could be delved into a little deeper. This is not a criticism, mind you; we just wanted to spend more time in the world of this book because we loved it so.

Recommended!


Two Paws Up--A Great Read!


A note on the "Paws Up" system: Miss C gives either one or two paws up. One paw is for a good read; two paws is for a great read. She never gives three or four paws because that would require her to lie on her back...and Miss C does not do that!

We received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. We wouldn’t tell you it was good unless we really liked it!


The link below is an Amazon Associates link. If you purchase the book through this link, old SoLT and I could get some coin for our kibble account. Thank you!