Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Winchester, it's finally Halloween! And we're all ready to go trick or treating. I have my trick or treat bag and you have your trick or treat pumpkin.

And this is my perfect costume? All those moments of suffering and torture trying on outfits comes down to this?

Yes. You see, costumes often represent a person's real, true personality.

So you are really and truly a witch?

No, I just like the purple cape with bats on it. And the hat is neat. But everyone knows you really are a devil. Look at those spooky jack o'lanterns! Let's hit the next bunch of houses.

Hey, you have more treats than I do. No fair. Share!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Perfect Pumpkin!

Winchester! Look! I found it--the perfect pumpkin!

That's a pumpkin? Are you sure it's not an acorn painted orange?

It's a real pumpkin, all right. The shape is just right. Not too tall or too round and it's not lopsided. I'm going to carve it right now. Do you want to help me?

And get my whiskers covered with yucky pumpkin goop? Eww.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Presenting . . . Winchester McNibble

Those ears! That little pink nose! That--is that a tutu around your neck?

When I get out of this get-up, you're going to get it.

Sometimes a picture truly is worth a thousand words!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Back to the Pumpkin Patch

Winchester, today I went back to the pumpkin patch. What do you think of these pumpkins? You can't say these are too small or "mediumish."

Whoa! Be careful or one of those bad boys will roll over on you. You'd be an Ellsworth tiddlywink.

Hmmm. Maybe they are a little too big. What are we going to do? Halloween is in a few days. I haven't found the perfect pumpkin and you haven't found the perfect costume. Well, we still have four more days--I see you sneaking out!

Maybe the Great Pumpkin will rise up out of the pumpkin patch and carry that annoying elephant off somewhere!

Friday, October 26, 2007


I won't be doing my Saturday library book tomorrow either. Last weekend, The Writer was away and the weekend before that I was at the haunted bed and breakfast. And tomorrow, The Writer will be at a conference.

Neglecting us again!

You hardly look neglected. Let's just say you are not a "mediumish" cat, to use your own word. Anyway, I thought I'd share a picture The Writer took on our way home from the pumpkin patch. She saw those four black buzzards perched on the roof of that old house and had to stop. Unfortunately, The Writer didn't know where the zoom button was on her camera (she's a little slow on the uptake sometimes), so it's not the best picture. The vultures didn't like her staring at them, so they kept moving along the rooftop. Finally they got disgusted and flapped away. But aren't they truly Halloween-ish?

The one on the chimney looks like my cousin Pyewacket.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Winchester in Distress

Winchester, I think this costume is you!

Really? I agree--NOT. What am I supposed to be? A scrubbing pad with a princess complex?

You're a damsel in distress, like in a lot of fairy tales. You have to kiss the Frog Prince to break the spell. Then he will rescue you.

You've got to be kidding. How about if I get rescued from any more of these ridiculous costumes!

Halloween is almost a week away. We still haven't found the perfect costume for you--one that reflects the real Winchester.

I wish it was November already. I'm going to rip the page off the calendar!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Ellsworth Goes Back to the Pumpkin Patch

I still haven't found the perfect pumpkin for Halloween. So today I went back to the pumpkin patch. Winchester, what do you think of these pumpkins? Will any of them make a good jack o'lantern?

Hmm. They're all kinda mediumish.


Yeah. You want to make a statement with your jack o'lantern. A really big pumpkin makes a statement. And so does a little pumpkin. But not a mediumish pumpkin.

Sorry I asked for opinion! Mediumish. Sheesh!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Winchester and the Reporter Lady

Winchester! The Writer is mad at you for misbehaving when the Reporter Lady from the Free Lance-Star was here. She was interviewing The Writer, who was trying to be writerly. But you acted up! First you jumped in the window and scared her. Then you lay on the rug and clawed it and the you ripped up the newspaper. The newspaper she works for!

It was lunch time! I was trying to get The Writer's attention. Who has an interview during a scheduled meal time?

Lots of people! If the world ran according to your stomach-clock, nothing would ever get done. The Reporter Lady was so eager to get away from your carrying on, she ran right out of her shoes and she left her reporter notebook!

The newspaper is nothing but bad news anyway. Don't you think she thought I was kind of cute?

Monday, October 22, 2007

Snow Time Again

Guess what day it is, Winchester?

Pick On Cat Day? So far today I've been run over by a vaccum cleaner, chased by your ex-friend Xenia, and cornered by The Writer who gave me a bath!

You need a bath. A reporter is coming over tomorrow to interview The Writer and we all have to look our best. But no, it's Monday and that means Robert's Snow Day. The weekly schedule of illustrator snowflakes and features are posted on Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. Last Monday, more than 160 blogs mentioned Robert's Snow before noon! This week should be even better! The illustration is from Grace Lin's book Robert's Snow, the original story she told her husband while he was having treatments back in 2004. Check out the gorgeous snowflakes that are a tribute to Robert Mercer and think snow!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Where is Winchester?

Winchester? Where are you? The Writer has been gone for several days, visiting schools in Massachusetts. She told me to keep an eye on you. Ever since she decorated the wall with silhouettes of mice and mouse holes, you have been ripping off the mouse's tails and chewing off their paws, especially that mouse that sits on the outlet. Winchester? Winchester?


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Ellsworth Goes to a Haunted B&B

This past weekend The Writer took me to The Bell House, a bed and breakfast in the little town of Colonial Beach. We love bed and breakfast places, or "bread and breakfasts" as Sophie Chapman says. The Chapman kids in the Time Spies books live in Gray Horse Inn, a bed and breakfast started by their parents. In the first book, Secret in the Tower, Sophie sees a ghost horse! It's the ghost of the horse of Captain Jack Jouett. You'll have to read the book to find out more.

The Bell House was built in 1883 by the son of Union General Burnside, who met defeat at the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862. The house is right on the Potomac River. The next owner was Melville Bell whose son was Alexander Graham Bell. The Bells used to fly kites from the balconies as science experiements. We stayed in the Melville Bell Room. The Writer worked and I looked for ghosts. The house is haunted by two spirits. People have seen the face of Melville Bell, with his white hair and beard, at windows. The other ghostly visitor is Bertha. Bertha lived in the house for 50 years. She knew Melville and Alexander Bell. People have found Bertha's old-fashioned hairpins on the floor.

I didn't see Bertha or Melville Bell, but I did have a good time sliding down the long bannisters. One time when The Writer was staying at Bell House, her cell phone turned on. The Writer always turns her phone off. She figured it was Bertha, wanting attention. She said, "Bertha, I have a lot of work to do so knock it off." Bertha didn't bother her any more.

The Writer is like that with me too! Always telling me to knock it off. While you two were living it up at the bed and breakfast, I was starving at home!

The Writer left you enough food for three days. We were only gone a day and a half. Is it my fault you gobbled up your food before we were out of the driveway?

Monday, October 15, 2007

Let It Snow!

Winchester! Wake up! It's snowing!

Wha--? How long was I sleeping? When I took my nap it was 75 degrees and a sunny October day.

It's not snowing outside, silly. But it's snowing all over the place in children's book blogland. Today is the first day that people can read about the snowflakes and the illustrators who created them.

What's all this about again? I forgot.

The only thing you remember is meal time. Robert's Snow is an event to help raise funds for medical research at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. Nearly 200 children's book illustrators have hand-painted wooden snowflakes. The snowflakes will be auctioned off in three groups:
November 19-12, November 26-30, and December 3-7. You can look at all the snowflakes and read the story of Robert's Snow at the Dana Farber site.

And now you can read interviews about the illustrators. Five will be featured each day on different host blogs. Check the coordinating blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast for a daily schedule.

Wow. All this snow talk makes me want to go make snow angels.

Be an angel and view the snowflakes. Bid on one!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Great Winchester-Pumpkin

Oooo! On Halloween night, the Great Pumpkin flies out of the pumpkin patch and brings treats to all the good little boys and girls--

All right, already! I shouldn't have said I'd rather be a pumpkin on Halloween!

Why are you facing the wall?

Shame. Pure mortifying shame.

Why? I think you look kind of cute.

It's a dog costume!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Ellsworth Goes to the Library

Last week, the Salem Church library had 5 copies of Rider in the Night nicely stacked on the special Halloween book display. I went back a few days later and all the copies were checked out! In fact, all the copies in all the branches of the library were checked out!

I couldn't pose next to the book, so I snuggled up with this big guy instead. One featured book happens to be by The Writer's friend, Linda Shute. (It's the book with the light bouncing off it--The Writer takes awful pictures sometimes). Linda wrote and illustrated this really fun, scary book called Halloween Party. I want to go to a party like the one in this book! Hurry to your library and check it out!

I suppose you think I'm wild with jealousy because you're posing with that big bear. Well, I'm not. Not in the least. Not the teensiest tiniest bit. I so don't care, it's not funny--

Oh, put a sock in it.

This post is dedicated to Linda Shute, wonderful friend, writer, and illustrator.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fairy Cat-mother

Everybody loves the story of "Cinderella." When I was a young elephant, I used to daydream about being in that story. I would be Ellsworthella.

"Ellsworthella?" You've got to be kidding.

I wore rags and my stepmother forced me to scrub floors. My stepsisters laughed at me. One day we heard that the king was giving a ball for his son, the prince. All the girls in the land were invited to meet him. My stepsisters got new dresses, but I had to stay home. I was crying in the ashes when my fairy cat-mother appeared, fluttering her wings.

Ellsworthella had a fairy cat-mother?

Doesn't everyone? Anyway, she waved her magic wand and my rags became a beautiful gown. I had red velvet slippers on my feet. Then she waved her wand again and the pumpkin turned into a gold coach. The mice and rats became horses and coachmen. I was going to the ball! But my fairy cat-mother warned me--I must leave before the clock struck midnight or everything would turn back.

Don't tell me--you danced with the prince until the clock struck twelve and then you ran away, but he found one red velvet slipper on the castle steps.

Then you know how it ends! Do you want to be a fairy cat-mother for Halloween?

I'd rather be that pumpkin. These wings itch!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ellsworth Goes to the Pumpkin Patch

It's 95 today, so it feels more like summer than fall. But it wouldn't be October without a visit to the pumpkin patch. Hmm. I don't think these pumpkins are quite big enough.

That's not a patch! That's a barrel of pumpkins.

Okay, so the pumpkins are already picked. But I still have to find the just-right pumpkin for me. That's my goal this month. And your goal is--

Whoa! My goal? Why do I have to have a goal? I'm happy doing nothing all day.

--is to figure out the just-right costume to wear on Halloween. I'm in charge of wardrobe. Fittings start tomorrow, Winchester. Don't be late.

This post is in memory of Richard Shute. Long-time friend who once lived in Virginia. He loved the mountains and the rivers. He would have enjoyed another fall here.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Robert's Snow

The snowflakes will soon be falling! The Robert's Snow auction is more than a month away, but you maybe be able to see the snowflakes in person. This past weekend, all 150 hand-painted snowflakes were on display at Child at Heart Art Gallery in Newburyport, Massachusetts. Robert's wife, Grace Lin, came to view the wonderful creations.

A week from today, October 15, the "host" blogs will begin featuring various snowflakes and illustrators. Check the schedule at the Blog for the Cure coordinating blog, Seven Impossble Things Before Breakfast. At Seven Imp, you will find a schedule of who is featuring which illustrators. Lots of fun things are planned, so stop by all the blogs!

Do they have any cat snowflakes?

I bet there are! You'll have to view the snowflakes yourself. Check them out!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Ellsworth's Saturday Library Book

This week when I went to the library, I checked out Ghosts and Goblins by Wilhelmina Harper. This was one of The Writer's favorite Halloween books when she was a kid. It's chock-full of scary stories and folktales and poems. The Writer likes "Teeny Tiny," but my favorite story is called "King o' the Cats."

Ooo, a cat story!

A man runs into his house. His wife and their black cat, Old Tom, are sitting by the fire. The man asks his wife, "Who's Tommy Tildrum?" His wife has no idea, but Old Tom says meow. Nobody pays any attention to him.

Typical. Ignore the cat.

The man says he saw nine big black cats like Old Tom, all with "a white spot on their chestesses." They were carrying a tiny coffin covered in black velvet with a little crown on it. Then one of the cats says to the man, "Tell Tom Tildrum that Tim Toldrum's dead." Suddenly Old Tom swells up and says, "Old Tim dead! Then I'm the King o' the Cats!" And he flies up the chimney.

I have a white spot on my chestess! I'm the King of the Cats!

No, you're not. But you do have a friend named Tildrum.

I'm King o' the Cats! I'm King o' the Cats!

I've created a monster.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Rider in the Night

The Writer has loved Halloween since she was a little kid--

A long, long time ago.

--yet she has never written a book about Halloween! Until now. Rider in the Night, A Tale of Sleepy Hollow is a spooky story within a spooky story. Mattie, Alex, and Sophie (and me!) listen to a storyteller tell "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," a story by Washington Irving. He was a real writer who lived in Tarrytown, New York. The story is about the Headless Horseman who haunts the town of Sleepy Hollow on Halloween.

Headless Horseman? That sounds really scary!

It is scary! You'll have to read the book to find out what happens when Alex, Mattie, Sophie (and me!) help Ichabod Crane, the schoolteacher the Headless Horseman is after. Not only that, but you will learn how to make Secret Message Doughnuts.

What about Secret Message Kibbles?

I think I hear The Writer coming down the hall with another costume . . . Winchester? Winchester?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

My Favorite Month!

I love October! So does The Writer. We both have July birthdays and we both wish we had October birthdays instead. This month is always so pretty in Virginia. And The Writer's favorite holiday is Halloween!

Why? Because she needs to wear a mask? Hee-hee!

No, silly. Because Halloween is a kid's holiday. The Writer loved Halloween so much when she was a kid, she used to wear her costume starting in August. Her favorite was a witch costume. It had a green silky cape with glow-in-the-dark moon and star symbols and a purple silky dress. The mask was too hot and the eyeholes were too far apart. The Writer remembers stumbling around as she went trick-or-treating. But she loved the cape and dress. She even put that outfit in her newest Time Spies book, Rider in the Night, A Tale of Sleepy Hollow. I'll talk about that book more this month. But first . . . guess what time it is, Winchester?

Oh, no! Not again! I bet I'm going to hate this month!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Robert's Snow

Snow? It's only October. It's too early for snow.

Not everywhere, Winchester. Right now--all over the country--people are reading about Robert's Snow, an online auction of special snowflakes. Let me tell you the story of Robert's Snow.

Robert Mercer married Grace Lin, a children's book author and illustrator. They were so happy. Then Robert was diagnosed with bone cancer (Ewing's sarcoma). While he was being treated that winter, Grace told him a story about a little mouse who wasn't allowed to go out in the snow. The story became a book called Robert's Snow. And Robert's treatments worked--he was in remission.

But in 2004, Robert's cancer returned. His doctors said Robert and others with Ewing's sarcoma needed a breakthrough in medical research. So Grace and Robert enlisted the help of children's book illustrators. Each decorated a wooden snowflake that was auctioned. They raised over $100,000 for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute! Robert's Snowflakes was published, showing many of the different snowflakes.

Sadly, Robert Mercer passed away in August 2007. But the fight to find the cure continues. 150 children's illustrators have created wooden snowflakes to be auctioned this fall. You can see the snowflakes online at Robert's Snow. They are being auctioned in groups: Auction 1, Nov. 19-23; Auction 2, Nov. 26-30; Auction 3, Dec. 3-7.

I made this snowflake in Robert Mercer's memory. It will not be auctioned, of course. Please check out the lovely snowflakes and think about bidding on one. It's for a wonderful cause.