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.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Friendly Fill-Ins

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Happy Friday, everyone! Today we 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  are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two  are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader. Old SoLT did all the answers this week.


1. The first thing I think about in the morning is whatever work I have to do that day.

2. The last thing I think about before sleep is whatever work I have to do the next day. Clearly, I’ve been working too much!


3. I am looking forward to the 2017 BlogPaws Conference in Myrtle Beach. This will be my first BlogPaws event, and I can hardly wait to get there!

4. I am so pleased that winter is over and our spring flowers are blooming.


And for your viewing pleasure, we hope you enjoy this blurry photo of Real Cat Paisley attacking her Saint Patrick's Day flower:

Real Cat Paisley attacks her Saint Patrick's Day flower

Thursday, March 30, 2017

App Review: Grumpy Cat’s Worst Game Ever

 
Grumpy Cat's Worst Game Ever button
We have been playing Grumpy Cat’s Worst Game Ever for a while now, and we can confidently report that this is not the worst game ever. In fact, it’s a pretty fun game, if you like things to be fast paced and you don’t mind being insulted by a cat when you fail.

Grumpy Cat demands speed

Daredevil Grumpy Cat
One of the Grumpy Cats you have
to collect. This one is a daredevil.
This is not a game you play if you just want to do something slow and relaxed. Grumpy Cat demands speed, and she wants you to go faster all the time.

Basically, there are four different “worlds,” each with a collection of Grumpy Cats (Burglar Grumpy Cat, Rocker Grumpy Cat, etc.) in them. Your job is to play mini-games to earn coins, which you then spend in a claw machine to get prizes. The prizes are the different Grumpy Cats, and you have to collect all of them.

Trust me, it's not complicated once you start playing.

Each world has different mini-games, and you do not get to choose which games you play. The game comes up, instructions appear on screen, and you have only a few seconds to (a) figure out what you’re supposed to do and (b) do it successfully. And then the next game comes, and the next, and the next. Trust me when I say it is not easy to keep up. And just in case you think it is easy, after each round, Grumpy wants you to go faster, faster, faster. Honestly, old SoLT is so slow, she found this stressful at times. But so much fun too!

Grumpy Cat, This is fun, too bad you're awful meme
Grumpy always has something
to say about your
performance.

The mini-games

Of course this mental challenge is only fun if the mini-games are fun, and these games are. Old SoLT particularly enjoys “clean the plate” because she is rather good at it (and it’s so simple), but you also have to reel in a fish, get Grumpy across a croc-infested river, crack a safe, hit a baseball, drive a racecar…. Once you start playing, it really is hard to stop even when you’re failing miserably, because you always think, “This time I’ll get it.”

Good luck.

Here is a little video of old SoLT playing, with some much-needed help from Real Cat Webster:

video

Our verdict

Grumpy Cat, Frustrating meme
And then there's this. She
shows no mercy.
In case you haven’t figured it out by now, we think Grumpy Cat’s Worst Game Ever is a really fun game. There is a good variety of mini-games, and it is a mental challenge to keep up. Plus, Grumpy Cat. Who doesn’t love her?

This game is available for Android and iOS devices. We played on an iPad and experienced smooth gameplay (except for old SoLT’s many, many failures). The game is free to download, but you can make in-app purchases. We have played for a few weeks now without making any purchases, and don’t feel that we need to make any to advance in the game (although it might be nice to take the ads away).


Highly recommended!



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

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Cat of the Week: Toby in Baltimore

Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles Cat of the Week badge

Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

This handsome fellow is Toby. He is 9 years old and is described as very social and outgoing. Looking for a friendly purr machine? Toby could be your guy. He has lived with a dog before. We think he has a pretty terrific face, doesn't he?

Learn more about Toby here. And if you’re in the market for two cats, check out his younger housemate Rin. Rin is a 3-year-old female who is more shy and laid back than Toby—sort of a yin and yang situation.

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!

And…it’s time for the Black Tie & Tails gala to benefit the Baltimore Humane Society. Find more information and get your discounted Early Bird tickets here through April 15!

Monday, March 27, 2017

Book Review: Felix, the Railway Cat

Felix, the Railway Cat, by Kate MooreWe had been looking forward to reading Felix, the Railway Cat, by Kate Moore, for quite a while, and it turned out to be every bit as good as we’d hoped. So we are very happy to bring you this brief review today.

A tradition of railway cats


There’s a long tradition of railway cats in England, so it’s maybe not so crazy that the staff at Huddersfield Station decided it would be a great idea to get a station cat. (Huddersfield, for our fellow clueless Yanks, is a town in West Yorkshire, which, if you’re still clueless, is a bit north of the center of England.) To get this idea past management, they came up with a little story about having seen a mouse in the office. What do you do when you’ve seen a mouse? You hire a four-legged “pest controller,” of course.

And so a tiny black-and-white ball of fur arrived at the station and proceeded to get just about everyone there wrapped around its little paw. They named the kitten Felix. A trip to the vet revealed that “he” was a “she,” but no matter; the name stuck.

What does a station cat do all day? Well, she does her patrols around the platforms and other places. She hangs out by the bike rack.  She has been known to catch the odd mouse. She delights visitors. She deals with pigeons. She naps in inconvenient spots. She accepts treats, though we understand from Felix’s Facebookpage that she was put on a diet back in March and isn’t supposed to have treats anymore. Poor Felix!

It’s a full life. Well, you know, other than that diet thingy.


More than a cat

But the story told by Kate Moore is about far more than the antics of one cat. It’s also about how that cat totally transformed life at Huddersfield Station, how she changed the lives of the humans around her. Cats do that, you know, so cat stories always end up being about more than the cat. Felix is also a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the life of a railway station, which we found really fascinating. Huddersfield Station is quite a busy place, serving over 5 million passengers in 2015/16, and we enjoyed learning about how the station works almost as much as we enjoyed reading about Felix.

The entrance to Huddersfield station, St. George's Square. Photo by Richard Harvey.
The entrance to Huddersfield Railway Station. This is part of Felix's domain.
Photo by Richard Harvey (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

Our verdict

We think there’s nothing better than a cat story well told, and Felix certainly is that. This book is a delight from cover to cover. The story of cat, station, staff, and passengers is woven deftly together in a way that consistently had us saying, “Just one more chapter…” And perhaps best of all, Felix is still the railway cat at Huddersfield Station (she’s been promoted to senior pest controller now), so there’s no wrenchingly sad part to sniffle through. There are sad moments, touching moments, uncertain moments (life is like that), but Felix comes through it okay.

Our favorite part involves a chimney, and that’s all I’m going to say about it.

Very highly recommended!



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, March 26, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley at Work

For today's Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head, Real Cat Paisley wanted to share the following brief video of her at work with old SoLT. You can see how indispensable she is in the office:

video


The Cat on My Head Sunday Selfies Blog Hop badge


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Caturday Art: Webster Up Close

Once again we kept it simple for our entry in Athena's Caturday Art blog hop this week. Old SoLT opened a photo of Real Cat Webster in Photoshop and applied a paint daub filter. There was some fiddling with various buttons and sliders to get just the effect she wanted, but it was very easy. Then it was over to PicMonkey for a frame--well, two frames actually. We are very into using PicMonkey's drop shadow frame, followed by a museum matte frame; it gives a double-matted look that we like:

Real Cat Webster up close with paint daub effect


Here is the original:

Real Cat Webster up close


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Friday, March 24, 2017

Cat Breeds Coloring Book Review, Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

We bring you two fun features this Friday. First up is a quick review of a brand-new cat coloring book. This is followed by Friendly Fill-Ins.

Cat Breeds Coloring Book One

Cat Breeds Coloring Book One, by L.A. Vocelle


When I first heard of this coloring book several weeks ago, I thought, “Well, okay, but that doesn’t sound like as much fun as the coloring books with crazy, artsy designs. How interesting could this book possibly be?”

That, as it turns out, was a stupid question, because this coloring book was created by L. A. Vocelle, whom many of you probably know from her excellent site, The Great Cat. She is also responsible for two previous coloring books (Ancient Egyptian Cats and Medieval Cats) and a history of cats, Revered and Reviled. So if you get this book, you are in for a treat, and you will maybe accidentally learn some things as you color.

This book includes 21 breeds, arranged alphabetically. Each breed is shown in two pictures: the first is a close-up of the cat’s head, accompanied by a short note about the breed’s origins; the second shows the cat against a backdrop appropriate to its origins. The Abyssinian is shown in front of an archaeological find in Ethiopia, for example. Each of these larger pictures includes a fact about the breed or the illustration. The pictures vary in their complexity, so we think there will be something here for everyone.
Abyssinian cat picture from Cat Breeds Coloring Book One
Old SoLT works on the Abyssinian.

Abyssinian cat picture from Cat Breeds Coloring Book One
The finished product, complete with
fancifully colored archaeological
background.
Old SoLT got her pencils out at the first opportunity and started coloring the Abyssinian. It was great fun. She got a little fanciful on the archaeological background, but she tried to make the cat look something like the real thing.

We wholeheartedly recommend Cat Breeds Coloring Book One! It is fun and educational, and when you finish coloring its pages, you will have quite a nice little reference to 21 cat breeds.

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!



Friendly Fill-Ins

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And now to 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. In the Spring, I look forward to when sometimes the people open a window and I can smell the outdoors. It is so interesting!

2. I would love to have any kind of party. I’ve never even had a birthday party. Can you imagine?

Old SoLT's answers:
3. Few know this about me, but when I was 8 or 9, I had a pet marble. I guess pet rocks were popular then—not sure how I ended up with a marble though. Anyway, I think his name was Fred. He was a pretty sky-blue color, and I kept him in a little box.


4. No one should go through life without climbing a tree at least once. As a child, I spent many a fine hour up a tree with a book. Good times.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Mrs. Chippy: Cat of the Endurance Expedition

Photo of Mrs. Chippy on Perce Blackborow's shoulder
The male tabby named Mrs. Chippy perches on Perce Blackborow's
shoulder aboard the Endurance, 1914.
By Frank Hurley [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Years ago, people went off in sailing ships to explore far-flung parts of the globe, and they took cats with them. For one thing, cats were good company, capable of providing light entertainment, and for another thing, cats were rather good at killing the mice and rats that inevitably hitched a ride on the ships. One of the most famous of these cats was Mrs. Chippy, a tabby cat from Glasgow, Scotland, who wasn’t a “Mrs.” at all and who sailed to Antarctica with Ernest Shackleton, never to return.

Mrs. Chippy joins the expedition

In 1914, Ernest Shackleton was putting together something called the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition (also known as the Endurance Expedition). Shackleton intended to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. For this, he needed crews for two ships, and a Scotsman named Harry McNish (also spelled “McNeish”) joined up as the carpenter for the Endurance. As the story goes, McNish found his tabby cat curled up in his toolbox, and he took this as sign that the cat wanted to come with him. So, when McNish boarded the ship in London, along came the tabby.

“Chippy” is a British nickname for a carpenter, and the tabby quickly came to be called Mrs. Chippy for her habit of sticking close to McNish. The cat had been on board for a month before the crew discovered that Mrs. Chippy was actually Mr. Chippy, but still the original name stuck.

Heading south, Mrs. Chippy makes a new friend

Photo of Endurance in full sail, c. 1915
The Endurance in full sail, c. 1915.
By Frank Hurley [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons.
The Endurance sailed on August 8, 1914, for Buenos Aires. It was during the stop there that young Perce Blackborow, still just a teen, stowed away on the ship. Blackborow was allowed to stay after he was discovered, and he became a friend of Mrs. Chippy. The only known photo of the cat shows him perched on Blackborow’s shoulder.

Mrs. Chippy was well liked by the crew. He was friendly, a good mouser, and known for his ability to balance on the ship’s rails even in rough seas. He was less popular among the sled dogs, as he liked to tease them by walking atop the kennels they were kept in.

Map of proposed Endurance expedition route
Map showing the planned route
of the expedition.
March 25, 1916.
Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
From Buenos Aires, the expedition sailed on to South Georgia and then to Antarctica. The plan for the Endurance was to land a party in a bay off the Weddell Sea. From there, the explorers would trek across the continent to the Ross Sea, by way of the South Pole. Meanwhile, a second ship, the Aurora, was to sail on to the Ross Sea. But things did not go to plan.

Trapped

The Endurance encountered ice along the way to the intended landing site, which presented more difficulties than Shackleton had anticipated, and the ship eventually became trapped in pack ice in 1915.  At first, Shackleton had the men try to free the ship with chisels and saws, but it was no use, and they all realized they’d be spending the winter on the ice. They tried to get word out with their wireless, but they were too far away from civilization for it to work. The sled dogs were taken off the ship and housed in “dogloos” (kennels made of ice). Mrs. Chippy mostly preferred to stay aboard the ship.

Endurance, crushed by ice and sinking, November 1915
The Eundurance, crushed and sinking,
November 1915. A few of the sled dogs
are seen in the foreground.
By Royal Grographic Society [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
Things went tolerably well until October, when the ice truly began to crush the ship. Endurance had to be abandoned on October 27, 1915. The men and animals who’d been aboard her were well and truly stuck. A new plan was needed, but unfortunately for Mrs. Chippy, it did not include a cat.

The end for Mrs. Chippy

Shackleton determined that their best chance of surviving lay in marching across the ice to the west to reach the nearest land, some 350 miles away. He determined that only the strong would survive this journey, and he ordered the crew to shoot the weakest animals, including Mrs. Chippy. This was carried out on October 29. Shackleton wrote, “This afternoon Sallie’s three youngest pups, Sue’s Sirius, and Mrs. Chippy, the carpenter’s cat, have to be shot. We could not undertake the maintenance of weaklings under the new conditions.” Those who were closest to the animals killed, including McNish, “seemed to feel the loss of their friends rather badly.”

A long journey toward rescue

Harry McNish, ship's carpenter for the Endurance
Harry McNish, 1914.
Portrait cropped from photo in
South with Endurance.
Public domain,
via Wikimedia Commons.
The march was short-lived, as it proved too difficult to negotiate the uneven ice. The crew instead made camp not far from the ship and waited for the ice to break up. They were able to retrieve more supplies from the Endurance until the ship finally sank on November 21. By April 1916, they had drifted to within sight of land, and with their ice pack breaking up, Shackleton decided it was time to try a lifeboat journey. In three lifeboats, the crew made a perilous, icy trip to Elephant Island.

It was good that they had reached land, but the land they reached was uninhabited. Shackleton needed to make one more dangerous lifeboat journey to get help. He and five others, including McNish, set off for South Georgia. Although the boat quickly became covered in ice, they reached the island on May 10, over two weeks after setting out. But still the ordeal wasn’t over, as South Georgia’s whaling stations were on the northern coast, and the sailors and landed to the south. Next came a land crossing of South Georgia’s interior. McNish and two others were not well enough to make this part of the journey, and they were left in a makeshift camp. They would be rescued by a whaler after Shackleton reached a station on the island. Shackleton also returned to Elephant Island to rescue the men left there. In the meantime, Blackborow’s left foot had had to be amputated after it became frostbitten and gangrenous.

The carpenter and his cat reunited

Statue of Mrs. Chippy on Harry McNish's grave
The statue of Mrs. Chippy added to
Harry Mcnish's grave in
Karori Cemetery, Wellington, by the
New Zealand Antarctic Society in 2004.
By Nigel Cross, via Wikimedia Commons.
McNish never forgave Shackleton for ordering that Mrs. Chippy be shot. He and Shackleton had had their differences from the start of the expedition, and Shackleton wrote that the Scottish carpenter was "the only man I'm not dead certain of." After the Endurance became stuck on the ice, the two men butted heads over exactly what should be done to effect the crew’s rescue, and at one point McNish even refused to follow Shackleton’s orders. Despite this, the carpenter worked hard to build shelters for the crew and to save the Endurance, and of course he was part of the crew on that harrowing lifeboat journey to South Georgia. However, Shackleton denied him the Polar Medal that most of the crewmen received after their ordeal. Harry McNish died destitute in New Zealand in 1930. He was 64.

In 2004, McNish and Mrs. Chippy  were reunited, in a way, when the New Zealand Antarctic Society added a bronze statue of the cat to the carpenter’s grave. A fitting close to the story of a cat who set out on an ill-fated adventure just because he curled up in a toolbox.

For more on cats who sailed to Antarctica, see "This Fearless Feline Sailed the Wild Southern Seas."

Sources

Cool Antarctica. "Henry (Harry McNish (1874-1930) Biographical Notes."
http://www.coolantarctica.com/Antarctica%20fact%20file/History/biography/mcnish_henry.php

Roberts, Patrick. “Mrs. Chippy, of Shackleton’s Endurance Expedition.” Purr-n-Furhttp://www.purr-n-fur.org.uk/famous/chippy.html

Shackleton, Ernest. South! The Story of Shackleton's Last Expedition, 1914-1917. Project Gutenberg e-book: 2004.


Wikipedia: “Harry McNish,” “Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition,” “Mrs. Chippy.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Cat of the Week: Hector in Washington, DC

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Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and unlike kittens, they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! Adopt a senior cat, and help him or her enjoy the best years of their life.

Adopt Hector from Humane Rescue Alliance, Washington, DC!
Today we’re introducing an exceptionally handsome gentleman named Hector. Hector is 13 years old, and we understand he is an excellent lap cat. He is a pretty laid-back guy who warms up to new people easily. He can also be quite chatty, so be prepared to have conversations about each day’s events. Hector is no spring kitten, and he does have a few medical issues, but these are being managed easily. Plus, he has a great classical name, and it's not every day you come across a cat like that.

Hector is currently in foster care through the Humane Rescue Alliance. Learn more about him here.

Can’t adopt but still want to help? Learn how you can sponsor an animal at the Humane Rescue Alliance, or check out this page to learn other ways to donate.

Do you know an adoptable senior cat who’d make a great Cat of the Week? Let us know!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Book Review: Mrs. Odboddy: Undercover Courier

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We were delighted recently to receive a copy of Elaine Faber’s latest Mrs. Odboddy book, Undercover Courier. The first book in this series was so much fun, we could not wait to read this one, and Mrs. Odboddy did not disappoint.

Agnes Odboddy, scourge of the underworld

Agnes Agatha Odboddy is a 71-year-old widow who was an undercover agent back in World War I. Now, in the midst of World War II, she sees Nazi spies and conspiracies everywhere, and her neighbors in Newbury, California, think she’s kind of a nut.  But as the saying goes, just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean “they” aren’t out to get you.

This book opens with Mrs. Odboddy being abducted by two goons who start driving her off to goodness knows where, and just days before she’s due to leave for Washington to meet Eleanor Roosevelt and accompany her on a tour to visit the troops in the Pacific. Well, whatever they intend to do to her, she will not give in. She is a “warrior on the home front, scourge of the underworld,” after all. But it turns out that the “abduction” is really just a couple of guys having a laugh at her expense. They’ve been sent by Colonel Farthingworth to escort her to his office; he has a very important mission for her. Will she agree to personally deliver a package to President Roosevelt?

A great train story, a lot of history

Of course Mrs. Odboddy accepts the mission. How could she not? She is a patriot through and through. And so she and granddaughter Katherine set off on what will surely be the most dangerous train journey of their lives. As per her usual, Mrs. Odboddy sees a spy in every passenger. But what if this time she’s right and one of their fellow passengers is actually after that top-secret package? I won’t tell you much of what happens. Let’s just say it is totally Mrs. Odboddy (which means it is a lot of fun—just imagine a 71-year-old woman hopping a mail train!).

As in the previous book, we enjoyed the historical setting of this story. We felt that we were getting a glimpse into real life in the WWII era. We were reminded of rationing; of black Americans being treated as “less than,” even when they were serving in the military; of more limited communications capabilities in a time before cell phones. We loved seeing Mrs. Odboddy meet the president and first lady, and it was most interesting to finally find out what was in that package!

And some cat!

The cat in this series is Ling-Ling, a Siamese whom Mrs. Odboddy took in when the cat’s original person was sent to an internment camp in the previous book. We do see a fair amount of Ling-Ling in the very first part of the book, but she doesn’t go on the train trip, so she’s not really a part of the main plot.

A fun series, well worth a read

We really enjoy this series. You know we love history, and there is plenty of history in the Mrs. Odboddy stories. Plus, Agnes Agatha Odboddy is a character who is just fun to read. What will she do next? We can’t imagine. I do have to withhold one paw only because of the relative lack of cat, but this book has plenty of other things going for it. If you like history and you’re up for some wackiness, check out Mrs. Odboddy—we think you’ll love her just as much as we do!

A fun 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, March 19, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Claims the Dog's Bed

Today we join the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head, with this pic of Real Cat Paisley hanging out on the dog's bed. Ever since we rearranged the living room furniture and the dog bed ended up in a new corner, it's been the coveted place for all three pets.

Real Cat Paisley relaxing on the dog's bed


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Saturday, March 18, 2017

Caturday Art: Best Friends

For today's Caturday Art blog hop, hosted by Athena and Marie, old SoLT chose a photo that originally didn't look very good because it was too dark--badly backlit and she wasn't smart enough to use a fill flash. Through the magic of various programs and filters, she ended up with this:


She adjusted the exposure and made a couple other tweaks in Lightroom to make it look a little better, and then it was on to LunaPic, where she applied the Surreal Painting effect. Looking at the result, she thought, This needs bokeh, so she went to PicMonkey and applied the Bokeh texture. Then she added a Drop Shadow frame, followed by a Museum Matte frame.

This is the yucky original:



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Friday, March 17, 2017

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! Plus Friendly Fill-Ins

You'll have to forgive Real Cat Webster, he hit the nip a little too hard after he found out old SoLT is one-third Irish. We don't have the heart to tell him that doesn't automatically mean he's Irish too!

Happy St. Patrick's Day from The Cuddlywumps Cat Chronicles!


Friendly Fill-Ins

Friendly Fill-Ins badge
And now to 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 are from Ellen of 15andmeowing, and the next two are from Annie of McGuffy’s Reader. Old SoLT did all the answers this week.

1. The oldest item in my home is some Civil War–era stuff I bought a long time ago. I have a soldier’s hand-held mirror, a pair of sharpshooter’s glasses, and a soldier’s letter home.

2. The oldest item in my refrigerator is too scary to contemplate. I might be growing a new antibiotic in there!

3. My family heritage is really interesting to me right now because I just got the results of my Ancestry DNA test. According to this test, I am about 34% Irish, 33% Scandinavian (?), 10% West European, 10% Great Britain, and some little bits of other things. Now I just want to find out more!


4. My favourite family tradition is …This one is tough because we never had many family traditions. Maybe our tradition is not having traditions.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cats in Space: Constellations

Recently under the topic “Cats in Space,” we posted about nebulas named after cats (or, rather parts of cats). Today we’re tackling feline constellations. The first of these, Leo, you’ve certainly heard of, especially if you were born between July 22 and August 22. The other three you might only be aware of if you are really into stars.

The constellation Leo in the night sky
The constellation Leo. Note the "backwards question mark" formation
on the right.
Illustration by ad_hominem, via Adobe Stock.

Leo

Herakles and the Nemean Lion, Greek postage stamp
Herakles struggles with the Nemean Lion on this
Greek postage stamp.
Photo by Lefteris Papaulakis, via Adobe Stock.
Leo, the Lion, is one of the largest constellations, and also one of the most ancient. It was cataloged by the Egyptian astronomer Ptolemy (c. AD 100–170) in the second century, but its origins stretch back much farther than that. The Mesopotamians may have had a lion constellation way back in 4,000 BC. Other ancient peoples also had a lion constellation—notably the Persians, who called it Shir or Ser, and the Babylonians, who called it UR.GU.LA (“The Lion,” in case your Babylonian is rusty, and if you want to brush up even more, check out these posts on how to say "cat" in Old Babylonian and Neo-Babylonian). To the Babylonians, the Lion marked the summer solstice.
   

This constellation is commonly associated with two mythological beasts: the Nemean Lion and, somewhat less commonly, the Sphinx. The Nemean Lion was a fearsome lion that terrorized the Valley of Nemea in Greece. Its hide could not be penetrated by ordinary weapons, so ordinary men could not kill it. Heracles (whom you may know as Hercules) killed this lion as the first of his famous twelve labors. Thereafter, he wore its hide as a symbol. The Sphinx, of course, was a beast with a lion’s body and a human head. We associate the sphinx mostly with Egypt, but the creature was also known in Greek myth.

Leo is a constellation of the northern hemisphere. Its most prominent feature is the “backwards question mark” formed by the stars that outline the lion’s head. Its brightest star is Regulus, which is actually a four-star system.

You can learn a lot more about Leo, including how to find it in the sky, from this video:


Leo Minor

Sphinx sculpture in Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
A sphinx in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. The sphinx
is also sometimes associated with the constellation Leo.
 Photo by Юкатан [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Leo Minor, or the Smaller Lion, lies sort of in between Leo and another feline constellation, the Lynx. Unlike its larger cousin, Leo Minor is a younger constellation, created by Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius in 1687. It was briefly renamed "the Lionness" in 1870, but this name never really caught on.

The brightest star in Leo Minor is Praecipua. Interestingly, Leo Minor includes three stars that are known to have exoplanets: HD 87883, HD 82886, and Kelt-3.

Lynx

The Lynx was also created by Johannes Hevelius (1611–1687), who wanted a little something to fill a gap between two other constellations. He called the star formation the Lynx because he said it was so faint, you’d need a lynx’s eyesight to find it. Lynxes were thought to have extraordinary, even magical eyesight. Greek folklore held that they could see through walls, and medieval Christians considered the lynx a symbol of Christ’s omniscience because of its keen sight. Though the Lynx constellation isn’t commonly associated with any myths, to some viewers it brings to mind an Argonaut (yes, as in “Jason and the Argonauts”) named Lynceus, whose eyesight was so good he could see through walls and even underground.

The constellation Lynx as depicted in an 1825 etching by Sidney Hall.
Though the Lynx is faint and difficult to find in the sky, it is near Leo Minor and Ursa Major.
Via Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division.

Felis

Some constellations endure, and some don’t. Felis (the Cat) didn’t. It was created in the 18th century by Joseph Jerome Le Francais de Lalande (1732–1807). He liked cats, so he created a cat constellation for star charts of the time. You won’t find Felis on modern star charts though.

The other three feline constellations can still be found, so next time you gaze up at the night sky, be sure to look for the cats!

Sources


Mercatante, Anthony S., and James R. Dow. The Facts on File Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, 2nd edition. New York: Facts on File: 2004.

Rao, Joe. “Find the Felines: Cats in the Night Sky.” Space.com. http://www.space.com/963-find-felines-cats-night-sky.html

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Cat of the Week: Adeley in Westhampton, New York


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Each week in this space, we feature a senior cat in need of adoption or sponsorship. Please remember all the great older cats in shelters. They make great companions, and they (probably) won’t climb the curtains! If you can’t adopt but still want to help, look into sponsoring a cat in the shelter or in foster care.


This handsome gentleman is Adeley. He is 14 years old and very friendly. Those who know him use words like “spirited” and “pizazz” to describe him. Adeley does enjoy long naps in sun puddles, so the lucky person who adopts him will want to ensure he has access to at least one good napping spot. He has been at Bideawee for YEARS, and while it's great that they've taken care of him all this time, wouldn't it be even greater if Adeley found that one special person or family who would give him a home of his very own? Just look at him in this adorable little video, and then tell us you’re not ready to run out and bring Adeley home!



Adeley is currently at Bideawee’s Westhampton, New York, location. Learn more about him here.


And if Adeley has stolen your heart but you can't adopt him, he is available for sponsorhip! Learn how you can sponsor a pet, become a Bideawee member, or make a donation. Every little bit helps.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Book Review: Purr M for Murder

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This first volume in a new series by T. C. LoTempio (whom you might know from the Nick and Nora mysteries) takes us to Deer Park, North Carolina, where we meet former advertising exec Sydney McCall and her sister, Kat. Kat is the director of an animal shelter, and Sydney has recently returned to her hometown and taken on publicity work for the shelter. Sounds nice and safe, right?

Well, not so fast. This is a murder mystery, after all.

Death comes to Deer Park

Sydney and Kat are getting ready for a pop-up cat café as a fund raiser for the shelter, which is in danger of closing if things don’t start going their way soon. One of their biggest problems is Trowbridge Littleton. He’s “old money,” he’s influential in the community (meaning he can bully people into doing what he wants), he’s a jerk. Littleton seems to have it in for the shelter, so Sydney decides to go see him, just to talk (hint: this will not go well). She arrives at his art gallery early in the morning, when she knows she’s most likely to catch him there—only Kat shows up as well, and together they discover Littleton’s recently murdered corpse.

So, you know how it goes when you find a recently murdered person: you become suspect #1, especially if you’re found to have motive, which Kat certainly did. With Littleton out of the way, the shelter has a better chance of surviving, right? Well, sure, unless she gets pegged for the murder.

Sydney decides to do a little investigating to clear her sister’s name. It seems that most of the population of Deer Park hated Littleton, so all Sydney has to do is figure out which one of them did him in. The question becomes, will she survive her little foray into private investigation?

Toby the cat

Our favorite character, naturally, is Toby, the green-eyed orange tabby cat who steals Sydney’s heart (yes, there is also a handsome detective who seems to be doing things to her heart, but let’s stick to what’s important, shall we?). We hear about Toby before we actually meet him. He is available for adoption through Kat’s shelter, but he prefers to wander where and when he pleases, and he has a habit of “discouraging” anyone who shows any interest in adopting him. He’ll settle down for the right person, maybe. Happily for everyone, Toby adopts Sydney as his own, and he proves to be an exceptional cat and an able investigating partner. We look forward to seeing him in future installments.

Our verdict

Purr M for Murder is a fun read. The plot is not simple, but it’s not hard to follow, and it’s entangled in all the right places. The climax, in which Sydney has a very close call, had us wondering if this would be a one-book “series.” Plus, Toby! We just love this cat. It’s nice to meet a new cat who is a character in his own right.


Recommended!

Two Paws Up--A good 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!

Purr M for Murder will be released on March 14, 2017. It's now available for pre-order:

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sunday Selfie: Paisley Reviews a Book

We're joining the Sunday Selfies blog hop, hosted by The Cat on My Head, with this shot of Real Cat Paisley hard at work on a recent book review:

Real Cat Paisley reviewing a cat-themed graphic novel--or sleeping on the job?


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Saturday, March 11, 2017

Caturday Art: Webster Watching a Light Trail

For this week's Caturday Art, hosted by Athena and Marie, old SoLT did not have even a single idea, so she just picked a photo and started doing things to it. After a few false starts, she hit on a direction she liked, and we ended up with this:


We did this all in PicMonkey. First we applied a Posterize effect, then a Light Trails texture in Overlay mode, then a Water texture, followed by a Bokeh texture and a frame. We like how it looks like Webs is looking down at the light trails.

Here's the original: