7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #211: Featuring Bob Staake

h1 March 20th, 2011 by jules

I have friends who have linked recently on Facebook to news articles about the devastation and ongoing sorrow in Japan and who have almost apologized for it while doing so, as if to say: I don’t mean to bring the room down, but…. I understand why they do so. No one wants to be a Debbie Downer. Especially at the hoppin’, loud cyber-party that is the hyper-hypo* world of Facebook. (“At first, it felt like a comfortable, intimate gathering of people I actually knew. Now it feels like I’m sitting in the corner at a huge party, muttering a few feeble words now and then,” wrote Jama Rattigan in Her Blog Post In Which She Pondered the Pros and Cons of Facebook and Which I Still Remember. But I digress.)

(* And seven points if you got that early- to mid-’90s Saturday Night Live reference.)

However, I think we would all agree that this news event is somewhat of an exception. The destruction and loss over there on the other side of the world (from most of us) is unfathomable. And has been on our minds this week. All of us. So, like many do, perhaps I should say (and especially for a kicks post), I don’t mean to sound depressing, but… I will not, though. I know you’ll join me in taking a week to acknowledge the loss and declare our solidarity. That we are united in thoughts or prayers or thoughtful prayers or prayerful thoughts or Zen-like contemplation or meditating or holding your breath and crossing your fingers or whatever you believe.

Author/illustrator and designer Bob Staake created some art work this week that says WAY MORE ELEGANTLY what I’m trying to say all bumbling-like here. Above is We Are Japan. Below here is Sisyphus In Japan.

I thank him for letting me share those this week. I think both images are splendid and full of grace.

Please, this doesn’t mean you can’t share kicks, though. We’re here. We’re alive. Our homes did not fall down around us. We have our loved ones. And all those little kicks? They give our days their flavor. So, don’t hesitate to share them.

All illustrations are © 2011 Bob Staake and used with permissions.

As a reminder, 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

Well, there I am up there, asking you to share kicks, yet I don’t really have seven separate ones this week. My family and I had to say goodbye this week to our oldest cat, Gandalf — on his birthday, no less. He was fifteen—which, in people years, officially means Truly Extremely Exceptionally Flippin’ Old—-and he just sort of started slowing down and wasting away. We had to put him to sleep at the vet’s, but we all got to be there. My seven-year-old, my little philosopher, decided he’s either going to be reincarnated into a new kitten or he’s lapping up stardust milk on tuna clouds. Make that budding philosopher and poet. (Well, I mean, I’m quite taken anyway with the notion of stardust milk.)

I shared this picture on Facebook this week — but must have sat there an hour trying to decide if I should. It was probably taken about thirty minutes before he was put down. Private moment, in other words, not to mention an emotionally-spent one. But I finally decided that I wanted many of my long-time friends, who knew and loved him as well, to say goodbye. (“Loved him and his crooked, little eye” was my favorite response from an old friend.) I share it here today not to rack up condolences. In fact, after I birthed me some babies, I became an altogether different pet owner who doted less on her cats, though they’re all loved and taken care of. I share it here today simply so that you know how beautiful he was. And because this is my tribute to him. ‘Cause I have a blog and ’cause on Sundays at that blog I sometimes stray from talking about only books and illustration and just ’cause I can pitch kind words about him into cyberspace.

He was huge. (Five Stomachs, we used to say, would be his Indian name, if he had one.) He was slightly cross-eyed. He was goofy. He was loving. VERY, as in curl-up-and-sleep-and-purr-on-your-very-head loving. I used to call him the Feline Savior and say that when the Kitty Rapture came, all cats would instinctively head to our house to enter His fold and be a part of the goodness and mercy and all that. (What? I used to say it, but I never claimed it was actually witty. And, please, Christian blog-readers, know that I mean no offense and that this theologically addled yet affable agnostic is only trying to point out how obscenely sweet he was.)

And I got him as but a wee ball of white fluff years ago (when I lived alone and before I had my own family) during a difficult time in my life, a time of loss, and he was true and steadfast, if cross-eyed and not-exceptionally-bright. (He was simply unable to master some Cat-101-type tasks. As a Southerner, I’m required here to say “bless his heart.”) AND so terrifically loving and sweet to me every day since that time, and I’m not sure I always deserved that big, big love.

May he rest in peace far, far away from all mean dogs who chase and growl.

* * * * * * *

No, really. Even though I’m talking about earthquakes and the wrath of Mother Earth and deceased pets, I really do want to hear your kicks. What are your little and big gratefuls this week?

22 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #211: Featuring Bob Staake”

  1. Sorry to hear about Gandalf, Jules. As our little black cat ages, we try not to think about the inevitable.

    Quick kicks:
    1. Building miniature sphinxes
    2. Blaring Carbon Leaf
    3. Visiting a jukebox shrine
    4. Reclaiming a battered car
    5. Declaiming Donald Hall
    6. Counting blessings
    7. And a new draft of a small poem:

    By Steven Withrow

    Night clouds hold no proper names.
    Each and all, in their operatic crossings,
    Also bear cubs, pearl beads, nesting dolls,
    Arias of open vowels, steam engines,
    Strange fish scaled with flashes of camphor,
    Nacreous, anonymous, noctilucent
    Under the yellow music of the moon.

    ©2011 Steven Withrow, all rights reserved

  2. Four Blessings and Three Kicks

    1. Yes, bless Gandalf’s dear kitty heart.
    2. And bless our young adult kitty and let him continue to weave his way into our hearts and lives for lots of years to come so that when I write about his passing, I will make people who never knew him roll quiet tears of shared grief down their cheeks.
    3. Bless Bob Staake for his powerful images.
    4. Bless the tsunami victims, and bless the tsunami survivors as they work their way through these difficult days and weeks.

    1. Spring break.
    2. Crocuses.
    3. iPhone apps.

  3. Holy wow, Steven. Gorgeous poem. And Carbon Leaf is new to me. Must explore. I discovered this guy this week. Fist pump.

    Mary Lee, something about “young adult kitty” made me laugh, as if someone should be writing some literature for him (or her?) already. Happy Spring Break! We have crocuses on our table and where we laid Gandalf in our yard.

    And have you seen the iPhone app that takes a series of pics for you and makes it look like a photo booth shot? LOVE. (See last week’s kicks for an example.)

  4. Thank you sharing the work of Bob Staake. It reminds me how interconnected we all are.

    Jules, may Gandalf rest in peace. So hard to lose a member of te family. Your tribute is lovely,
    Steven, the poem draft is stunning. Marry Lee, enjoy spring break.
    My kicks:
    As I type, Buster, our 4 month old puppy has discovered the recycle box and paper. Our almost 15 YO doxie is hanging out with me.
    Getting my poem project sent off to Jama for the April poetry month.
    Dinner last night with a Portland Kidlit friend and family.
    Daffodils finally in bloom in my flower box.
    AND down to 9 school days until I leave for spring break.
    Have a great week.

  5. I like that you addressed these issues, because I know how you avoid watching much of the news that brings us down. Yes, it’s out there… the Japan thing. And very sad. We may as well acknowledge it and send them peaceful vibes. Gandalf stayed with us a bit while you were in an apartment and he truly is a people cat. A little TOO much on-your-lap sticktoitiveness at times! But you had to love him. Glad I took some photos while he was here.
    Grateful for flowers and trees blooming…
    My granddaughters spending the night this week….
    and my Kindle. 🙂

  6. Sorry about Gandalf — but what a good long life he had with you guys! And of course, like Piper said, he will come back for another one of his many lives, right after he fills up on stardust milk (LOVE that). Wasn’t it this same poet/philosopher who gave us our “mrs. b” names? Brilliant naif!

    A very tough week for everyone around the world, our hearts breaking for the Japanese people. Their stoicism and fortitude have touched us all.

    Just wanted to wish everyone a Happy Spring — it’s official today. Even though it sometimes feels like the world is coming to an end, we have to keep hope alive. We have each other. That’s my kick!

  7. Jone, so good to read that Jama will be celebrating National Poetry Month again. She’s so good to us readers. Where are you going for Spring Break?

    Mom, yes, Gandalf would threaten to suck your very soul out, if he decided to lie on you and sleep.

    Jama, yes, that was the same poet who named you Mrs. Blue Teaberrry and me Mrs. Bottlecap. Our fancy-pants names. And THANK YOU REMINDING US IT’S THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING! Score. I had forgotten. I like your one, big, hopeful kick.

  8. Jules, THANK YOU. * teary-eyed *

    And wow, stardust milk on tuna clouds? Wow. Beautiful. Wonderful. :o)


    1. Understanding and helpful thesis advisers.

    2. Tumblr (my main source of entertainment these past few days).

    3. My family.

    4. My friends (this includes you kickers of course!).

    5. Iced coffee.

    6. Donuts with strawberry frosting and candy sprinkles.

    7. Japan. Japanese food. Anime (especially Naruto). The Japanese language. Japanese movies and TV shows. Japanese literature. Japanese music. And the Japanese “gaman” – “to endure with fortitude and dignity.”

  9. Tarie, I want to have one of those donuts with you. One day.

    I’m glad your advisors are understanding and helpful, or we kickers would have to go give them a talkin’-to. ‘Cause we know how hard you’re working.

  10. Powerful Japan images; Sisyphus against the wave, says it all.
    I visited Bob Staake’s website too. Thanks, Bob, Jules.

    “Gandalf”, great name for a grand old cat. I’ll cherish the notion that all the cats I’ve loved and lost, are lapping Stardust Milk. Thanks Piper. Condolences, Jules. It’s clear you truly loved your goofy special cat.

    Steven – miniature sphinxes? jukebox shrines? “Strange fish scaled with flashes of camphor.” Intriguing all. ML – lovely blessings. jone – Enjoy your daffodils and “recycling” puppy. (Poor doxie’s invaded.) BW – bravo cat-sitters. jama – yes, Happy Spring. Tarie — “gaman”, nice to know. Thx.

    My three kicks this week:
    1 – Rain, rain, rain in LA raining on the runners of the Marathon today. But no leaks! (the $ waterproof patching of my deck is working. yea.)

    2 – For weeks now, the first words my 15-yr-old says as he jumps into the car each afternoon are, “How are the rebels in Libya?” He is very concerned, hopeful and empathetic. It reminds me that brave, romantic, idealistic, optimistic youths are the world’s natural rebels.

    3 – After a few days of thwarted attempts, I successfully got my stubborn, athletic kitty Zeek to the vet to treat his cat-fight abscess. Let the antibiotic battle begin! Zeek is a Bengal–closer to wild than most—so he’s not convinced he should subjugate himself to human will. http://animal.discovery.com/videos/cats-101-bengal.html
    It’s a two week regimen. Wish me luck!

  11. I’m so sorry about your cat. It’s hard.
    Beautiful images of Japan’s plight above.
    My kick this week:I am sad/happy to do my little part to help:


    ps I love your blog!

  12. Denise, best of luck to Zeek! (How’d you get that name?) Seven cheers for your son, too. And: Bengals are beautiful.

    Kieren: Thanks for the link (and for visiting). And, oh! ACK! I forgot to mention this, but I will now: Art Blocks for Ghana. An immediate portion will also go to relief in Japan. Thanks to Bill Carman for that info.

  13. RE: “Zik” is Sherpa word for leopard — which is what he looks like. But my sons said it sounded like we were calling him “Sick” : – P
    so we changed the vowel sound. And Zeek he is.

  14. Those are great images. Thanks for posting them. I send my condolences regarding Gandalf, too.

    This morning, I completed the Big Climb for Seattle, WA, by stair-climbing 1311 steps to the top of the Columbia Tower. The lovely sight of the Olympic Mountains in the sunshine greeted me at the top.

  15. Denise, it’s a great name.

    I’ve always wanted to name a pet Roy G. Biv.

    Farida, you did it! But then I knew you would. And in great time, which you…ahem…didn’t mention here. Probably being modest.

  16. Tearing up about Gandalf, yet another loving furkid who will be long missed. DH and I have 6 in our memories. Your daughter’s comment of “stardust milk and tuna clouds” is delightful and memorable.

    And thanks for the graphics, to help with the feelings about our Japanese neighbors – not so far across the Pacific Ocean as it used to be.

    Kicks: As someone else posted, we have bountiful rain in LA; a rare blessing.

    My Wisteria is the best it’s ever been, all the blooms got out before the leaves, so just purple-ness everywhere in the vision and in the scent. Grape jelly, I think.

    Having a DH who can do plumbing and fix leaky faucets, wonky terminals for the clock battery, and design a wall of bookcases.

  17. Hi there, CatBookMom. (Do you really blog about cat books?) Thanks for visiting and for the kicks. “Wisteria” always makes me think of this book now (the Valorie Fisher book, that is). Grape jelly. Mmm.

    Enjoy the rain!

  18. That image of Sisyphus in Japan – just wow.

    Jules – I am so very sorry for the loss of your well-loved and loving Gandalf. Thanks for sharing such a lovely photo of such a private moment…that Piper…stardust milk…just lovely…

    MaryLee – crocuses are also lovely, especially now, while waiting for spring.

    Jone – hooray for puppies and older dogs and daffodils.

    Beverly – love the image of a too-sticky-to-humans Gandalf. : )

    Jama – hooray for sping and keeping hope alive.

    Tarie – that coffee with icing-sprinkled donuts sounds both wonderful and scary all at the same time. Glad you have understanding thesis advisers.

    Denise – hooray for rain, and thoughtful, compassionate teenagers, and antibiotics to clear up kitty-wounds. (Good luck – your Zeek sounds like quite the handful.)

    Farida – CONGRATS on your climb! I was thinking about you this weekend, knowing it was happening….that is an awesome accomplishment!

    Kieran – thanks for the lovely image, and such a wonderful way to help out!

    CatBookMom – Hi! Hooray for wisteria, and having a DH who is so handy.

    I am a little late today, and missed last week kicks, (and missed all of you too!)

    My kicks this week:
    1) Going on a solo vacation. (I am solo anyway, but this was truly solo – didn’t know a soul where I was going, so I was completely alone.) It was equal parts scary and exhilarating.
    2)Oahu, Hawaii is more beautiful than I had dreamed it would be.
    3) Learning to Stand Up Paddle and learning to Surf!!!!
    4) The utter peacefulness of being in the ocean first thing in the morning, and seeing all that beauty.
    6) Waves, sun, sand, and sky. So very thankful to get to experience all that beauty and healing.
    7) Returning home to a whirling, spinning, grinning 100+ lbs of happy rottie, and the scolding meows of my very put-upon older kitty. Pure love, so nice to come home to.

    Japan has of course been in my thoughts all this time as well…the only tv I did watch was news, and there was plenty of it…so very sad…but as Jama said…I agree we must do what we can to keep hope alive…

    Here’s hoping everyone has a peaceful and love-filled week….

  19. Rachel, wow wow and wow again. I’m envious of your solo vacation, especially kick #4. I’m glad you got a break and that your rottie is still doing well and healthy.

  20. Sorry about Gandalf…wonderful tribute, and I love the photo. It’s real.

  21. Thanks, Jeremy.

  22. Nice Post! Thank you for the info, I will wait for posts like this and will read them with pleasure. Many thanks!

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