About Me

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Washington, United States
loves: you win if you guessed "pets" and "museums". Also books, art history, travel, British punk, Korean kimchi, bindis, martinis, and other things TBD. I will always make it very clear if a post is sponsored in any way. Drop me a line at thepetmuseum AT gmail.com !

Friday, May 29, 2015

friday oversleep post

Your friendly Curator totally overslept today, but you'll thank me for it when I send you over to the Friday link dump at Strange Company.  This week it includes a visit to glorious Hagia Sofia in Istanbul - and the equally glorious cat named Gli who lives there.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

puss in print - a short preview

Yes! The eBook of Puss in Print is on the horizon - no, really - and I thought I'd give you a snippet of my foreword.
* * *
We tend to think it’s mostly a modern tendency to love cats, to respect their personalities, and appreciate their friendship.  Everyone “knows” the ancient Egyptians worshipped cats as gods, after which our former furry overlords slid into centuries of our cruelest mercies until our recent feline enlightenment.   Though there’s truth in that, it’s an overstatement. 
Your basic model Egyptian housecat was a sacred animal and loved as such, but not an actual kitchen god, or windowsill god, or bedspread god, or wherever your particular model demands sacrifice.   As for the Western world, it’s true that most references to cats in European and American history can be breathtaking in their breezy callousness.  To move away for the summer or forever, leaving the cats behind, was a common and accepted practice.  Drowning unwanted kittens was the common way to control the cat population.  19th-century children’s schoolbooks dwell in detail upon the hunger, loneliness, and eventual death of lost or unwanted cats, to teach little ones empathy for dumb creatures or (more often) the fate that awaits disobedient youth.  Those are the kinder texts, by the way.  Others can be outright shocking to our modern (and thankfully improved) sensibilities.
* * *
I'm excited.  It'll still be a while yet, but I'm excited.  And I'm musing over a project called (right now) Vile Vintage Varmint Verses.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

vintage wordless wednesday

another treasure from noun pdx

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

more about australian mick

vintage spot PD

More fond thoughts from Australian pioneer Robert Barton on the "wonderful cat" he found as a tiny feral kitten deposited on his cabin's bed. . .

There was one thing about Mick, she never interfered with any of my bird pets; no matter what bird I brought home I could let it go in the garden, and she would not touch it. When feeding the birds every morning she used to come out and stand alongside of me; of course, I gave her a bit, too, but the birds were far quicker at catching it than she was. When I happened to catch any mice in the trap I used to take them out on to the lawn, cats and birds all round, and shake them out of the trap. Mick, of course, made a dart, but the jackass* (who was sitting on the roof five times as far away from the mouse as she was) invariably got it first, and Mick used to gaze in astonishment at the vacant space where the mouse had been.

*Another term for the kookaburra bird - curator
Barton, Robert D., 1842-. Reminiscences of an Australian Pioneer. Sydney [N.S.W.]: Tyrrell, 1917. 136-137.

Monday, May 25, 2015

memorial day: those who also served

Bain collection, Prints & Photographs Division, Library of Congress, LC-DIG-ggbain-19163
I'll go back to our Australian pioneer friend tomorrow, but today I want to thank all those who served.  That includes those who walked into war zones on four legs instead of two, such as this canine medic providing supplies in WWI.  The caption at right, "Bandages from kit of British Dog."

Sunday, May 24, 2015

an australian pioneer recalls a wonderful cat

spot illustration PD
Robert D. Barton was born in the Australian outback, two hundred miles outside Sydney, in 1842.  In 1917 he wrote his memoirs.  They're a clearheaded look at the grit and pragmatism needed to be a pioneer then and there - yet, as the anecdote below shows, there was room for kindness when faced with a couple of surprise feral kittens. . .
* * *
At Burren, too, I had what I may call a wonderful cat. There was an old carpenter, who built my house (it took him a long while to do it, because he was a hatter that could not work with anybody else, but he did it most thoroughly, seasoned all the timber, so that when it was put up—with pine timber—it never shrank). There was a cat came from somewhere, and took up with old Thomas, and never left him. If anybody else- came she disappeared like a shot, but she used to follow him like a dog, even when he went out into the bush to fell timber, and when he was dressing it she used generally to be between his legs. When the house was finished, of course, the old man went away, and the cat was only seen occasionally, and was very wild. However, she had kittens under the house, and heavy rain coming on, she found it was necessary to shift the kittens, and she brought two into my room, and was lying on the bed with them when I came in. There was a broken pane of glass in the window, through which she went like mad when I opened the door. Of course, it gave me a start, and I meant to wreak vengeance on the kittens, but when I went to take hold of them they put up their tails and me-owed and made every demonstration of friendship, and I could not knock them on the head as I had intended, but took them on to the verandah, and put them in the wood box, where the old cat allowed them to remain till they grew up.
One of these kittens was a yellow tom, the other a black, brindle colour, which was christened Mick.
* * *
The "wonderful cat" is Mick, and now that we know Mick's origins Mr. Barton follows with a few pages of good stories about this animal, whom he clearly enjoyed and respected.  I will share one or two in the next couple of days.

Barton, Robert D., 1842-. Reminiscences of an Australian Pioneer. Sydney [N.S.W.]: Tyrrell, 1917. 133-134.

Friday, May 22, 2015

it's friday. here's "sunday morning"

image copyright and by kindest permission of the artist  
I always say black cats are the hardest to portray, whether via photo or brush.  Yet here's "Sunday Morning" by Ontario artist Christy Obalek, an assured watercolor capture of a black kitty sleeping and shining in the sun.  The face is so well modeled that you can see right where the fur texture changes on the nose - that smooth patch right before the nose leather.  Then there's the sleepy puff of the muzzle, bristling with white whiskers.  When I see Veronica sleeping, it's tempting to reach out and rub her muzzle with my fingertip as her breath puffs in and out, and I find I want to do the same here.
Christy Obalek also creates pet commissions, so if you have a black cat you'd like to capture in watercolor for posterity - or a black dog, a white cat, even a couple of hungry kittens - check out her Etsy shop.  And check out her darling rock hyrax.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

cats and rain

image copyright and by kindest permission of the artist
Every day, Elizabeth gets the treat of a brief supervised outdoor playtime.  Unless it rains.  Then she huddles on the doorstop, looking sadly at the wet lawn, the bluest little gray cat in the world.  Here's Athens, Georgia artist Lyn with a watercolor called "Blue Raindrop Kitteh" to show what I imagine Elizabeth's cat soul looks like when it's too soggy to play.  This and many other charming watercolors are available at Lyn's Etsy shop FiggyMoss.
Lyn also creates intimately scaled, immediate nature photography exploring the textures of bark, leaves, flowers, even insects.  The effect is both restful and filled with power - you must go look.