|The beauty of inventing one’s own characters is that—
if you happen to have a cattery—you have lots of personalities to
choose from. I never had the time to show a cat to a grand
championship but that didn’t mean I couldn’t invent one.
In this case, Scribbles, who did get to the showhall: CH Coonmtn
Smoke On The water, to be formal, in one of my rare attempts at
showing, served to play Beowulf, who was the raison d’etre
for the fame of the fictional MerryMaines cattery. Scribs was not
really Grand material but if any cat had the moves, the coat and
the showmanship for it, this guy did.
Divinity, the white cat at the top of this page, along with her son,
Ghost, had a small part in Sing A Song Of Sixpense. In the up
and coming book, whose working title at this point is The
MerryMaines Go Country, she has a bigger part in the plot.
|While The Merry Maines was in the works, after
a great amount of help from Kazandra Holm
Moller, a dear friend and fellow Maine Coon
breeder in Denmark, who proofread the
manuscript and expressed a desire to have it
printed in Danish, I started on the Moosery. And
sent along chapters to Kazandra to work on. By
this time, however, it was known among her
friends that Kazandra had breast cancer. She
was bed-bound and could do little except read.
To keep her mind on other things, she asked
that I keep sending her chapters of the new
book and in the doing, thinking it might give her
a smile, I changed the name of one of the
Moosery characters to Hallecoons Danish Maid
Kazandra and modeled her after Cremy
(Coonmtn Crème Delight), one of the queens
Kazandra had taken home with her after a cat
show in Augusta, Georgia while she was still
healthy and deeply involved with the Maine
Coons in Denmark and the Netherlands. She
sent me this photo and I felt Cremy was the
perfect model for 'Zandra.
|To The great sorrow of all her friends and family, Kazandra
died before the book was finished and I never knew if her
namesake character amused her or not. I’d like to think it did
as it was about the only thing I could give her. She made a
difference for everyone who knew her and for me—she will
always live on these pages.
|The cat, Riddle, who became ‘Zandra’s consort in The
Moosery, is as you might guess, modeled after one of
the kittens of another Maine Coon that belonged to
Kazandra Holm Moller. If memory serves, he was one
she bred and took to her last show and his name was
Valdemar, after a Danish king. I added his white
accouterments for the sake of the story but if ever a
cat fit the part, it was Valdemar, seen here as he was
originally. He was her pride and joy.
|Besides Sweeper, the other new character in The Moosery is Smudge Torn Ear and Smudge, too, is drawn from real life.
He showed up at my back door one very cold winter’s day looking for a handout. And of course, I fed him. The next day,
he turned up again and this time, the poor guy looked like he’d squared off with a buzz-saw. That must have been some
cat fight he'd gotten into. However,he had to have had at least a passing acquaintance with humankind because when I
gently picked him up and put him into a carrier for a trip to the vet to treat all his wounds, he didn’t object. Maybe he knew
I was trying to help. With cats—who knows? At any rate, I told him if he was going to hang around and dine at my house
and I was responsible for his vet bills, he was going to get bobbed. He did and I did and he lived with us for a long time,
mixing in with the ‘Coons without any altercations at all. They all got along like a house afire.
Smudge had moxie. We live in the country next to a horse farm, a farm with a lot of tall out-buildings and barns. At one
point in the summertime, Smudge went missing. (you can't make a house cat easily of a free-ranging cat who'd been on
his own from kittenhood. So against my better judgement, Smudge went in and out.) Anyway, I missed the old gentleman
for one, then two, then three days at which point my husband and I set out to look for him. He cruised along the river on
his ATV while I rode up the hill on my lawn tractor to my stained glass studio beside my neighbor's barns and equipment
sheds . I knew that a big groundhog had taken up residence under the studio. But Smudge was not around there. I
climbed the fence and poked my head into the tall tractor shed. And heard a very plaintive howl. I looked up and saw poor
old Smudge standing on a rafter some 20' off the ground. Leaning against the wall was a tall ladder. Now why Smudge
took it into his head to climb up to the rafters, I have no idea. But I climbed up and called him. He stepped carefully around
to me and I carried him down to the ground. At this point, my husband arrived on his four-wheeler. I was about to put
Smudge into the carrier I'd put in the little cart that's attached to my riding lawn mower and take him back to the house. My
husband said no; "Just hand him to me." I said he'd freak out on the four-wheeler. "No, He won't," My husband replied and
so saying, took that big old rascal from me. The next thing I knew, they were zipping along the lane to the house in high
gear, Smudge, his front feet on the handlebars, leaning into the wind, happily yelling; "Go faster, Pop, go faster!" Oh, if I'd
only had my camera!
|The Merry Maines
cast of characters