Friday, December 26, 2008

Leftovers...and What To Do with That Gift Card

Like others, we decided to make it a low-key, home-made holiday. Family and friends for a small but delicious dinner, dessert consisting of a platter filled with cookies, brownies, and fudge. The sofa got a good workout as people relaxed and snoozed in the late afternoon. Still time to enjoy the full feeling, too soon to start thinking about the 2009 resolutions to cut back and eat healthier. Today - leftovers! I think a hot turkey sandwich the day after is as good as the original bird.

But what about the other leftovers? Those gifts that aren't quite right - including gift cards. Despite the warnings about companies going out of business, there are still plenty of gift cards being given and received. A teenager would love a Forever 21 card, but would her grandmother? Probably not. Or a man who yearns for the latest techno-gadget might not be completely thrilled with a gift card from Dick's Sporting Goods. What to do?

charge cardsGift Card Rescue! You can sell your card for cash or trade it for one you like better. Of course you don't get the full amount in exchange, but you do get a card you will actually use. Plus, if you want to buy a gift card, you can get one at a discounted price. Seems like a nice resource to know about for client and family gifts both. Many charities also accept gift cards, so you could think about trading the Starbucks card for a Target card, and donating that to a local domestic violence shelter or animal rescue center. I can make my own recipe Frappuccino and make a difference at the same time. That sounds like a good start for the new year, doesn't it?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The View From the Top

Top of the east coast, that is. Mt. Washington, NH, home of the world's worst weather. This volunteer supported and funded is home to an extraordinary group of people who just love vicious cold, high winds, and isolation. Every hour they go out to take measurements and readings, and to gather the data that often ends up on our local weather report. Most days I stop by the website to see what's happening atop the rockpile, and to get a view from the webcam. And yes, I do support them because I think it's important work, because they are not a government-funded organization, and also because I have a very warm spot in my heart for that part of the country. (On a clear summer's day we can see the top of that mountain from our little piece of New Hampshire heaven.)

Most days the observers post comments – their blog – and today Ryan has contributed his version of the 12 Days of Christmas. I eventually got through them all, but this photo held me breathless for quite a while. 130 miles visibility – wow! I'll bet even Santa takes time for a turn or two around the mountaintop just to enjoy this view.

Wishing everyone a peaceful, healthy, and happy holiday season.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Day After

When I was growing up, the excitement that built up before Christmas was an important part of the holiday fun. My brother and I spent hours imagining all the wonderful things Santa would bring us, and when my little sister came along, we played our parts in that happy fantasy. I helped bake cookies galore and my brother did his part to keep the tins from overflowing. Day by day the anticipation built until we were just about jumping out of our skins.

Then it was here!

And then it was over.

The day after Christmas was quiet and slow and gray, even if the sun was shining. There were still presents to enjoy and cookies to eat, but the anticipation was all used up, and we were down.

Over the past few days I've been there – anticipation used up, delight in the just-opened packages still as great as ever, but somehow just a little down. With Christmas still a week away, how could that be?

Ah, yes – it's the books! Last Friday we finally received the shipment of Margaret Rome's book – my company's first published title. Every time I see that cover I get a thrill. Sure, there is still much to do with sending copies to the Library of Congress and the Copyright Office, a contest to enter, and orders to fill. But all those hours of working to get it right, and then the weeks of worrying that it would actually be what we envisioned when it came from the printer – all that's done now. And yes, The Silloway Press has three more books for other people to get published in the next few months, but Real Estate the Rome Way is my first. You never forget the details, the emotional attachment of your first, do you?

As my friend Margaret says, "WIN?" What's important now? Time to do what always worked for the 10-year-old me on the day after Christmas: play with my favorite toy (a new 22" flat screen monitor – yay!), have a cookie, and start again.

Here's to a season and new year of great beginnings, happy anticipation, and successful conclusions for everyone.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Celebrate Your Freedom to Read

Every year at the end of September, the American Library Association joins with other groups to celebrate an important freedom. During "Banned Books Week," they remind Americans not to take this precious freedom for granted. This year the week runs from September 27 through October 4. For obvious reasons, the week hasn't received much attention as we've been caught up in Presidential politics and an economic firestorm.

But what better illustration can there be of the importance of this First Amendment freedom? We can read about the candidates as described by themselves and also by those who see them as the greatest or the worst to lead. We can read about what happened in the past that affects us now – as it was written, not as the winners/survivors would like to have had it written.

The ALA describes Banned Books Week (BBW) this way:

BBW celebrates the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one’s opinion even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints to all who wish to read them. After all, intellectual freedom can exist only where these two essential conditions are met.

During the week, librarians, teachers, and booksellers feature books that have been challenged in attempt to ban them. In this way, they "…teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society."

Maybe Noam Chomsky said it best: “If we don't believe in freedom of expression for people we despise, we don't believe in it at all.”

So celebrate – go read a banned or challenged book! There are plenty to choose from, starting with To Kill a Mockingbird, through The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, right on up to the Harry Potter series.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Readin' in the Rain

As the sky glowered a dismal gray, the first visitors stepped carefully down the slick cobbled streets of Mount Vernon Place at Baltimore's Book Festival. I guess we should have expected this; in past years the Festival has been cancelled at least once when a hurricane came through. But still, we hoped that on this Saturday dry weather would keep the thousands of books in scores of booths from curling. It was not to be.

First it drizzled, then it rained, and then you couldn't hear yourself think over the pounding of the downpour. The picnic tables sat soggy and forlorn while the food vendors smiled hopefully at the passersby huddled under umbrellas. Even with the lights that the City of Baltimore provided inside the tents, there was no way to dispel the gray sogginess.

But in publishing, as in theater, the show must go on. And thanks to stalwart visitors and an engaging young writer, the MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association's booth was a good place to be. In the couple of hours that we (author Margaret Rome and I) were there to volunteer, we talked with writers of fiction, non-fiction, memoir, and poetry. MBPA's president, Sheila Ruth did a great job of setting up the booth, assembling information packets, and displaying the association members' books.

I love to see the creative covers that come from people not constrained by big publishing's limits. Sheila's husband, Nick, was "wearing" the cover of his book, Dark Dreamweaver, and son David was in the spirit of things with his purple cape. It was David who stood outside the booth and stopped visitors with his smile and invitation to take one of MBPA's information packets. And every packet that left had in it a post card for Margaret's book, Real Estate the Right Rome Way, and one for my own book that I'm scrambling to get out before the holidays, The Writer's Book of Days. You can read more about both upcoming books on The Silloway Press Website. While you're there, be sure to sign up for the free monthly newsletter, KeyNotes - the next one is coming out soon!

Despite the low turnout and the river running through the booth, we had fun. While waiting out one of the heaviest downpours at the Book Festival, I talked with a woman who had come on a bus trip from New Jersey just for the event. It took me back to my days at craft shows when even bad weather wouldn't keep the die-hard fans away. And it gave me renewed hope that the well-written, independently published book is alive and well in America.

Friday, September 19, 2008

My Dance with Wolves

A sparkling September-like day – temperatures in the 60's, clear blue sky, a few fair-weather clouds, as we drove across the state line to Maine. On increasingly less main-type roads, we eventually turned up a dirt road that led more than a mile up and then down hill, back to the place where 76 wolf dogs live in large (up to an acre) fenced areas. Straddling the New Hampshire/Maine border, the refuge is not a place you will find advertised, but if you learn about it you can call and Fred Keating will give you directions to visit his sanctuary and meet his friends.

Our adventure began because I was looking through some old Yankee Magazine issues that had accumulated under my coffee table. About a week before we were to leave on vacation for New Hampshire, I pulled out the next on the stack – October, 2002. Leafing through I saw an article called "Dances with Wolves" and a photo of a white haired man nuzzling what looked like a wolf. It told how this man went from breeding to protecting wolf dogs – animals bred from wolves and domestic dogs. As a breeder he learned that people wanted wolf dogs to be pets, and they simply will not be. It started with just a couple of animals, but as word spread, people started sending him more animals. It wasn't long before he had to move himself and his rescued wolf dogs to a larger and more remote area. Now, the Loki Clan Wolf Refuge (a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) occupies more than 63 acres straddling the Maine/New Hampshire border.

As we drove into the yard, Fred Keating greeted us and introduced his assistant, Dan. A chorus of barks and howls started – not as a greeting to us, but to Fred. His friends saw him and wanted attention.

We approached the first pen where a lone animal came to the fence and Fred stuck his hand right in to rub his side and scratch his head. Tinga was a new arrival and was being kept by himself until Fred and Dan could learn what his personality was, how smart he was, and what group he would best fit in with. That's one of the important features of this preserve – the animals live in groups, the natural arrangement for wolves who live in packs in the wild. Tinga is a wolf/malamute cross and has some of the appearance of both – a beautiful animal, obviously used to humans. Throughout we found many of these creatures were quite used to humans and love to lick hands and lean against the fencing to have their earns, faces, and backs rubbed.

Friendly as some are, you can clearly see the wild animals in them. Several stayed back from the fencing, melting into the shadows of their areas. Some pulled back when instead of a face they saw a camera pointed at them. And others simply ignored us.

Many wolf dogs have the long legs and narrow chest of wolves, a sleeker head, and the very large paws. They all have the golden yellow eyes of wolves, and when even the friendliest looks you in the eye – which they all do – they seem to be able to read your mind and soul. In fact, according to Dan they have the intelligence of an 8 to 14 year old human, and each has a distinctive personality. A wolf will roam over 30 to 60 miles a day, and wolf dogs have that need to move around – another reason people find them hard to keep as pets. Their sizes vary widely from about 60 to 140 pounds, but all seem to have the bushy wolf tail, even the wolf/Samoyed cross who looked as if she should be roaming the tundra with her thick, rich creamy vanilla colored fur coat.

One particular version of the wolf dog has been bred with a coat that has splotches of color to make it look less wolf-like. This is no less wolf than the others, but it is called a "Native American Indian Dog" to disguise its heritage. However, since the animal is still part wolf, the wolf traits come out and too often, owners decide they can't handle this "dog" that won't stay home and that howls. Tunka was one of these that we met, and there are several at the refuge.

A natural question was, how do they feed 76 hungry mouths, each with the ability to pulverize large bones? (Dan told us their bite pressure is 1,400 to 1,700 pounds per square inch!) The answer is that there is a slaughterhouse a few miles away that donates the parts they don't use. And there is no dainty dining out of bowls here. Chunks of meat weighing 15 to 20 pounds are literally lobbed over the high fences and the animals take it from there. We watched as a small white female, Mia, crunched up the rib bones of her catch.

As we walked around visiting the various fenced areas and meeting dark faced and light faced animals, Dan told us of some of their personality quirks. One, Sassy, is fond of playfully nipping his behind when he's working in the pens. Each penned area has shelters and doghouses, but the wolf dogs use them as places to stand on or relax on like a deck. Like dogs, they love toys and will take anything they can get their paws on. More than one person has put down a hat or gloves too close to the fence, turned away, and turned back to find them gone without a sight or sound of the thief. We learned just how quiet these animals are; leaving one fenced area where three wolf dogs had lurked in the shadows, Dan told us to look behind - the three animals had come right up to the fence just a few feet behind us with not so much as a rustle from the leaves.

The animals were generally quiet, mostly just watching us or coming to the fence to be touched. Then suddenly a howling began down the hill and voice after voice picked it up. Dan explained that they were "gossiping" – that something will start a couple of them and others chime in. In the pen next to us a small female lifted her head and added a gentle moaning howl to the chorus. Not far away we heard Max's baritone. And then as suddenly as it started, it stopped. The conversation completely excluded us humans and made it very clear that it is we who are in their territory.

Dan explained that wolves use 60 sounds for vocal communication. Plus, they have complex body language using the combination of eyes, head, body, and tail. And at least at the refuge, they communicate with the wild coyotes that live nearby. Dan told us that some of the wolf dogs have learned to make coyote sounds when the coyotes are calling. Wild coyotes are not the only other creatures here, either. There are a few cats who have adopted Fred, several chickens who wander about and keep the ticks under control, a domestic rabbit, and large birds such as ravens, vultures, and bald eagles. Though squirrels and chipmunks run through the penned areas, the wolf dogs don't bother them – with food provided, they have no desire to hunt.

Fred told us later that he receives 12 to 15 calls a week from people looking for a place to send a "pet" they no longer want, or from an animal shelter that has received a wolf dog and has no other choice than to euthanize the animal. The animals at the Loki Clan Wolf Refuge have come from all over the country – many from both Texas (where apparently you can have any kind of animal) and Massachusetts (nearby), but also from California, Maryland, Florida, Ohio, and even one found roaming the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York City. As we spoke, there were several more animals in the pipeline heading for the refuge, but only so many can arrive at a time as each animal needs time in a separate pen – like Tinga – until they adjust to their new outdoor home, to the people who will care for them, and to the reality of living with others of their kind. In the wild, a wolf will live six to ten years; in the preserve they live 13 to 15 years, and some have lived as long as 16 or 17.

Most animals receive new names when they arrive, like White Face who became Inca, and Mocha who became Moche. Tinga got a new name and learned it within a day; he'd been in the preserve less than a week and when I said his name he looked at me and tilted his head slightly with that, "You talking to me?" look.

At the end of our visit we met Atlas, a large gray animal who looked much more wolf than dog with his very large feet and long legs. Yet he was as friendly as many of the others, leaning against the fencing so he could be rubbed and have his head scratched. When he would lie down you could see that age was beginning to make his joints stiff, but then a few minutes later he was pacing back and forth quickly near the fence as Fred approached with his favorite treat – watermelon! Fred lobbed two quarters of the melon over the fence and Atlas pounced on it, cleaning the fruit to the rind; apparently it was a little ripe for his taste or he would have eaten the whole thing.

Fred lives with his wolf dog friends full time, and counts on grants, donations, and volunteers to help keep the refuge going. Any animal lover would have to be moved by the commitment he and others have made to giving these beautiful creatures a safe place to live in the kind of environment that is theirs by nature. Their winter coats protect them from the bitterest cold, they get food that is what nature intended, they have veterinary care, fresh water, attention, play, and most important – others of their kind. And the hills of western Maine and eastern New Hampshire are alive with their songs.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Are You Helping Decipher Vintage Texts?

You know those funky skewed letters you have to type sometimes when you want to leave a comment on a blog or confirm an online order? Well, there’s a name for that: CAPTCHA. Sounds kind of like “gotcha,” doesn’t it? But it’s actually an acronym that means Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Thank Luis von Ahn, of Carnegie Mellon University, who helped develop the security technique that is intended to foil the intrusion of bots.

There was a fascinating article in the Boston Globe (8/17/08, Ideas Section) on how people are now deciphering words from a decaying old book and helping to transform a historic text into a new digital file. Libraries worldwide are using digital cameras to scan millions of pages of old books using OCR (optical character recognition) to "read" the texts and turn them into digital files.

The trouble comes when age takes its toll on pages, and the old type smudges or flakes off the page. Computer software gets hung up on words that humans can easily decipher. The system developed by von Ahn takes those messy bits of text and places them as mystery words on websites. As people solve those logon puzzles, they also decode a real world. Dubbed "reCAPTCHA," the system is used on some 40,000 websites and has solved more than 44 million words in one year. You can even add it to your site or blog if you want to be part of the solution!

The results are used to correct the text and build clean copies of the books. It's more complex than that, of course, with a system in place to verify the accuracy of the human helpers. But it's nice to know that the next time you have to squint and tilt your head to figure out what those characters are, you might just be saving an old book for future readers.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Blueberry Bonanza

If you've never sat in the midst of a patch of blueberry bushes and enjoyed the delicious anticipation of picking wild blueberries, this may not mean much to you. But one of the delights of going to the mountains of New Hampshire for vacation – for me, at least – is picking wild blueberries, freezing them, and bringing them home to become mid-winter blueberry muffins, pies, and cobblers. I know you can get "blueberries" in the grocery store, but to me those factory-farm-grown gigantic puffs are tasteless in comparison to their wild cousins.

The real thing grows on bushes that may be knee high (high bush) or only a few inches off the ground (low bush.) Ripe berries hide under the leaves, but turn the branches back and there you find blue/purple treasure.

Near where we vacation is a nature preserve, the Ossipee Pine Barrens. Primary access is off the main road, but a Class 6 Town Road (really an unpaved track) leads off our secondary road into part of the preserve. So one day I took my new walking stick, my bottle of water, camera, and berry bucket, and headed into the quiet of that tree-shaded road. An hour later I came out with my back and knees a little the worse for wear, a few mosquito bites, and my berry bucket holding a bonanza of wild blueberries.

All the time I was wandering and picking, only one other soul appeared – a man on a bicycle who called and waved to me as he went pedaling by. Otherwise, it was just me, the breeze, sunshine, and the blueberries. A perfect vacation day. To be followed by delicious wild blueberry muffins for New Year's breakfast.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

This Stick is Made for Walking

It was bound to happen. Eventually I knew there would be a day I'd want something – like a cane but not a cane – to be a little support when the old knees are particularly creaky. In fact, since I took a header last January and played smash-a-face on the front walk, I'd been looking at eBay and at craft shows for something with a bit of style. My husband beat me to it and found his own stick on eBay – the head/handle is a wonderful carving of a crouching panther with fangs bared. (His knees creak, too.) We left for vacation without me finding one of my own, but figuring that the fine craftspeople of New Hampshire might have something to offer.

The other day we walked into a local cigar shop so I could buy him the traditional vacation truly ugly cigars. They are very dark with one end tapered like a torpedo, and he smokes them outside on the porch. As I stood at the counter to pay for the ugly things, he pointed down to my left…and there it was. A walking stick of many layers of laminated wood, with a gentle twist and shaping to it, and a leather thong for the wrist. The wood was smooth and soft to the touch, and the compass in the top meant there would not be much excuse for getting lost. It was exactly right, and now it's mine!

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Playground for the Mind

Back in early June we had four delightful days in Cambridge, MA. It was Phil's mumbledy-fifth reunion at MIT, and the second time I've been able to be part of that stimulating company. While it's fun to see him reconnect with old friends, and to meet and appreciate them myself, one of the best part for me is what's known as Tech Day.

Every year as part of reunions and graduation weekend, Tech Day is presented by the MIT Alumni Association. On Saturday morning people file into Kresge Auditorium to hear about the latest work being done by Institute professors. The event is free and open to anyone who wants to stop in; if I lived in the area I'd be there every year.

This time the theme was, "Out of this World." After a welcome by MIT President Susan Hockfield, three professors held the audience in thrall.

First was Max Tegmark, Associate Professor of Physics, whose presentation was on Precision Cosmology. Starting from an aerial view of the auditorium where we sat, he drew us with him to outer space and the far reaches of the universe. Dr. Tegmark was an engaging speaker and illustrated his work with jaw-droppingly beautiful images and mind-bending representations of the size of the universe and our place as a tiny speck in an insignificant galaxy.

Still in space but closer to home, Dava Newman, Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Engineering Systems was next. Dr. Newman's expertise is in human performance across the spectrum of gravity, and several of her experiments have flown on board shuttle missions and the Russian Mir space station. She is currently studying human adaptation to extreme environments including and advanced space suit design for extravehicular activity. Her BioSuit ™ won her recognition as a Best Inventor of 2007 by Time Magazine.

The final presentation began with a surprise celebrity introduction. The curtains parted and a toddler-sized creature with enormous, expressive eyes and a gentle voice rolled out to introduce her creator, Cynthia Breazeal. As Associate Professor of Media Arts and Science, Dr. Breazeal is a pioneer in social robotics and human-robot interaction. You might have seen Kismet, her appealing social robot in news stories. Her ongoing research includes developing socially intelligent robots that can interact with humans, work with people as peers, and learn from humans as apprentices.

It was only three hours out of a four-day weekend, but Tech Day alone would have been worth the trip. With such creative minds at work, I have renewed hope for the future of the human race.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Judy Collins...Still The Best

A couple of weeks ago we joined hundreds of others who remember the 1960's very clearly, thank you, in an auditorium in Columbia, MD. For more than two hours we were enchanted, charmed, and basically blown away by the wonder that is Judy Collins.

She sang the songs that we all wanted to hear, of course - "Send in the Clowns," "Both Sides Now," and my favorite, "Someday Soon." She sang a couple of Lennon/McCartney tunes, promoting her newest album. And she sang several that clearly were pieces she just loved, that told stories.

The audience of mostly gray heads clapped, whistled, and sang along. We laughed when she joked about her life; who knew she did stand-up, and did it well? She played the guitar and had only the accompaniment of a pianist. After the intermission she played the piano and sang, a virtuoso performance.

She looked as wonderful and ethereal as ever. She did not need or use over-amplified sound systems to make an impression. And what really blew us away was the clear, pure tone in her voice. It was as good as it was more than 40 years ago, if not even a bit richer and fuller. Amazing! This lady is almost 70 years old, and can out-sing, out-compose, out-play, and out-perform people half her age or less.

It was an evening of pure delight and and strong emotional "yeah!" for all of us who still have a lot to give and do in life despite our gray hair, creaky knees, and senior discounts.

If you EVER have a chance to see Judy Collins in concert - do it!

Photos from Judy Collin's Website

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Cantata for Three Chainsaws

And even though I know it's just for today, and it's necessary, I'm worried. Scamp, our backyard rabbit is losing some of his hiding places. The birds are nowhere to be seen, and the squirrels have vamoosed for parts unknown.

It's the angry snarl of contrapuntal chainsaws that rips the air in our back yard this morning. Yes, we knew it was coming – they are clearing underbrush and small trees from the borders of the stream that runs through the area and eventually feeds into the Little Patuxent River and then to the Chesapeake Bay. They have to install some water control system and it will be better for all of us when it's done. Last year they met with homeowners and we walked the area as they explained what would be done and why. It all makes good sense. But oh, the noise!

Inside the house, Kira is hiding beneath my feet, and Pipsqueak has retired to the front of the house away from the noise. The robin parents who have been faithfully flying feeding missions to their nest under our deck are having trouble finding the right rafter to land on. Who knew that sound would disturb their directional system so? But after a few misdirections, they seem to have adapted and their two bobble-headed babies have their squirmy breakfasts.

I can see from my desk that three agile young men are clambering about, and already I have a clearer view of the townhomes behind us. Not that I want it, but there it is. I trust that they know what they are doing and will take only the necessary brush and trees away. But just in case, I'm keeping an eye on two of my favorite trees. And when they leave this afternoon, I'll be looking for Scamp and the squirrels who entertain Kira and me as we work.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Whole Cat & Caboodle

Do you have previous lives? I mean the kind that many of us who have been around for mumbledy-four years have…where you've had a different career, a different focus, and put your heart and soul into a venture for a while?

For me that was Cat & Caboodle. For once I was ahead of the game, but I should have waited a few years. What I did was start a business to sell handcrafted items for cat lovers. There were no imports, no manufactured pieces – everything was hand made by a skilled American artisan. I found people who made jewelry, pottery, fiber art, and stained glass (that last one was me.) Had I waited for the Internet, I could have set up a site, had great photographs of the pieces, and reached thousands of people.

But it was 1993 and I didn't wait. Instead I created a newsletter/catalog. I wrote the copy, used scissors and rubber cement to paste up a master, trundled to the local print shop, had the issues printed on recycled paper, got a bulk-mailing permit, addressed and bundled each issue, and schlepped them to the post office. Whew! It was fun and exhilarating…and not profitable.

So after a while, Cat & Caboodle wound down. But the dream persisted of going back to it one day. And so when I started collecting domain names (doesn't everyone own several dozen???), I also bought and as well as the .net versions of them both.

And that was it, until…

A few weeks ago I had a phone call from a delightful lady in Washington State. She had a question for me: was I interested in selling the Cat & Caboodle domain names? Hmmm. Had to think about that. I still love cats, still love fine handcrafts. But did I still want to make that a business? Honestly…yes, I would like to make it a business. But was there any chance of that happening? No. Now that I write full time, and have started a publishing company, there is exactly zero chance of me going back into handcrafts.

So yes, I would sell the domain name, and yes, we came to an agreement. In the process, I've met a new friend, and I see a name that I treasure put to good and loving use. Cat & Caboodle lives on as Cat and, The Cat Lover's Gift Shop. Take a look…if you love cats, she has something you won't be able to resist.