Thursday, August 12, 2010

Books and Cats

I am an incorrigible bookworm.  I have books all over the house, and always a pile "in progress" on my night stand.  I can't imagine not reading every day, and it's my favorite bedtime routine, to settle down for half an hour or so of book time before falling asleep.  This is our daughter's bedroom bookshelf.  Her brother has a jam-packed shelf of his own, my bedroom has two bookshelves, the living room has one, the family room has one large one, and the office has two smaller ones.  And I'm not counting the books still boxed in the basement. . . .

I need more bookshelves.  (That's the cry of the true bookworm - not, "I need to get rid of some books," but, "I need more space for my books.")  And I have gotten rid of some books over the past year.  I've given some to the library, and sold some on eBay, and taken some to a paperback trade-in store.  But I still love to get new books.  I don't tend to spend a lot, either - used book stores, garage sales, and thrift stores are all great hunting turf for new reading material.  I buy books for myself, books for my husband, and books for my kids.  I can think of far worse things than having lots of children's books in the house.  So, I am perennially in need of more/better storage space for books.

My husband has taken up woodworking.  He's planning on making another bookshelf for our bedroom this winter (a low, three-shelf console-type arrangement, so I can put art on it and above it).  I'm sure it won't take me long to fill it right up.

So, what am I reading right now?  Let's see, I'm working through "The Civilization of the Middle Ages" by Norman Cantor, I just finished rereading "Soul Music" by Terry Pratchett (I love his books!), and my sister gave me "Amazing Rare Things:  The Art of Natural History in the Age of Discovery" by Martin Clayton.  I've also just picked up a National Geographic "The Biblical World:  An Illustrated Atlas" at the Salvation Army for $1.99.  Yes, I'm the kind of person that reads atlases.  And encyclopedias.  I may not be a certified geek (I don't have any techy ability whatsoever), but I am most definitely a history/nature/biography nerd.  I don't have a trendy bone on my body, and I'm okay with that.

Somehow books and cats just seem to go together, like coffee and biscotti, or hot chili and sharp cheddar.  One of my favorite children's books is called "The Library" by Sarah Stewart and David Small.  It's about a girl who LOVES books.  She always has her nose in a book.  She hauls them home from the library and the book store by the wagon-load, always with a cat nearby.  She grows up and collects books her whole life, even working in a library, until her house is filled with them - wall to wall, floor to ceiling, and on every surface.  Finally, she decides to create a library and give all of her books to it, so she can still read them any time she wants to.  Then she moves in with a friend, and they and their cats live happily ever after - with some books, of course.  This beautifully illustrated story reminds me of my sister Debbie, who is just as much of a bookworm and cat-lover as I am.

I've got three cats:  B.C.  (Bad Cat) is my little old man - 15 and going strong, totally black, and wonderfully loving.  Not real bright, though - his initials have also been  taken to mean "Brainless Cat" and "Bozo Cat" at times.  We adopted him from a shelter when he was 9 months old.  Some bright soul thought it would be clever to name the black kitten "Satan," but that name was so totally inappropriate.  B.C. is a licker, and that's how he got himself adopted:  he meowed for attention from his cage, was incredibly friendly, and when I picked him up, he licked my chin.  I brought my husband back to see him, and when my husband picked him up, B. C. licked his nose.  My husband dutifully looked around the shelter at the other cats, all the while carrying the black licking furry-purry, so I knew he was hooked too.  B. C. purrs like a Geiger counter - there's a hitch in his gitalong, you might say.  And his voice has gotten kind of hoarse with age.  He says "muh-ow" instead of "meow."  He's a snuggler and a lover, and he's invariably attracted to whoever in any given group of people visiting us is allergic or averse to cats.

Sophia is our little old lady cat, almost 14 and showing her age a bit.  She's a fluffy, Maine Coon wannabe, and not real big.  There's not much cat under all that fluff.  We got her as a kitten from the animal shelter at the BOCES where I worked at the time.  She was found as a stray wandering at 6 weeks old.  She was tiny and fuzzy, with huge bat ears, big paws, and a big voice.  Her name in the shelter was "Fluffy the Mouth."  She's still fluffy and talkative, but she never grew into her paws - we thought she'd be a bigger cat, but she's just a small cat with big feet and big ears.  She likes to sleep on my shoulders while I'm at the computer, or in my lap.  She makes a very warm, snuggly scarf on a cold winter's day.  Her favorite place to sleep is in the laundry basket (preferably on clean laundry).  She has quite the feline vocabulary, and is the most talkative of our cats.

Our youngest cat is Molly.  She's a tuxedo cat, 4 years old now.  We adopted her from yet another shelter when she was about 8 weeks old.  We got her because my daughter wanted her own pet, and my husband figured that if we got another cat, then we would NOT get a dog.  We're not ready for a dog, no matter how much our kids have lobbied for one.  So one day we visited the shelter (just for fun, of course) and looked at the kittens.  They kept them in a small room, running loose, so we could go in and get to know them.  This tiny little black and white kitty, kind of thin and scruffy, almost immediately climbed into my daughter's lap and made herself at home.  She curled up, she purred, and she batted at any other kitten that tried to love up my little girl.  It was love at first sight for them, so I called my husband and the deal was done.  Molly has grown into the largest of our cats (which isn't saying much - she weighs maybe 11 pounds), with incredibly soft, thick "bunny fur," and lemon-lime green eyes.  Unfortunately, she and Sophia do NOT get along.  Molly is the most stereotypically CAT of all of them - she only snuggles on her terms, and she doesn't like to be picked up, but she's friendly and sweet, with a high-pitched meow.
Cats and books, books and cats - I don't want to have to live without either one.

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