Two Extraordinary Friends: Iris and Thula

Today I discovered the artwork of Iris Grace, a five-year-old girl with autism. Iris is slowly learning to speak and develop social skills, but her painting abilities are extraordinary. Her understanding of form, movement, and color is amazing for someone so young. Her mother says she she can concentrate on a painting for two hours, and her paintings are being sold to help pay for her therapy.

In many of the pictures of Iris painting, she is accompanied by a fluffy cat named Thula. Iris’ parents had heard of the value of a therapy animal for children with autism, but none seemed to help Iris until they found Thula. Thula does everything with Iris now—from helping her paint, to going on walks, and even taking baths. Iris recently went through a phase where she disliked bathing and having her hair washed, so Thula now jumps in the bath with her and lets them shampoo her first!

While the cat is not a trained service cat (Iris did not seem to care for those), there’s not doubt that she has a special touch with the little girl. Her parents say Iris is more active in the morning now, and will talk more to Thula than to others (short phrases such as “sit cat”). I’m so inspired by both Iris and Thula! It seems like they are both very good friends, each with their own special talents. To see and buy Iris’ amazing artwork, visit her official website.

Gizmo and the Hazelnut

Happy Caturday, everyone! This week I’m sharing one of my favorite viral cat videos. It’s a bit old, so you’ve probably seen it, but it makes me laugh every time. The cat in this video was given very specific instructions… but some cats just want to watch the world burn.

Oh Gizmo, what a rebel you are. Livin’ life on the edge.

Top Ten Tuesday: Fall Reads

Happy Autumn!

Being the first day of fall, it’s fitting that this week’s Top Ten Tuesday prompt is books to read this fall. I don’t usually decide what I’m going to read based on the season (unless it’s Christmas time), but here are my top ten (in no particular order). Many of these have previously appeared on my to-read lists, but maybe this time I will actually get around to them!

1. Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg

2. All That Is by James Salter

3. Night by Elie Wiesel

5. The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

6. El Deafo by Cece Bell

7. We Are Water by Wally Lamb

8. The Circle by Dave Eggers

9. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

10. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls

That’s it for me! What’s on your to-read list this fall? And which of these should I read first?!

Book Review: The Time Machine

I’ve been on a science fiction kick lately and decided it was finally time to go back to how it all began—The Time Machine. This short novel by H.G. Wells was published in 1895 and popularized the concept of time travel. While I think our idea of time travel has changed a bit since then, it is definitely easy to see science fiction’s roots in this work.

I really enjoyed the beginning of the book and Wells’ explanation of time being a dimension, like physical planes. I thought it was a sophisticated and convincing argument for being able to travel through time, as you would through physical space. At the same time, I wish there was more explanation about the consequences of such travel—could you change the past? Determine the future? Grow older while living the same day over and over again?

Continue Reading

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

No, this book is not related in any way to Fifty Shades of Grey (although perhaps it should have been given a different name). Between Shades of Gray is actually an emotional and traumatic tale of a Lithuanian girl living in a Soviet labor camp during World War II. It has all of the elements of a great YA novel, with the added impact of an important historical message.

Continue Reading

Page the Bookstore Cat

It’s been awhile, but Caturday posts are back! Today I’d like to introduce you to a special bookstore employee–Page the cat!

Page was rescued by the owners of Book Buyers, a bookstore in North Carolina, when she was abandoned by a dumpster as a kitten. Now Page spends her days welcoming customers and sleeping on bookshelves.

She probably also has some great book recommendations, such as I Could Pee on This or Crafting with Cat Hair.

I’d love to visit this bookstore and play with Page!


Book Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

Working at a publishing company means it’s never hard to get book recommendations, and one of the books that has been passed from cubicle to cubicle lately is The Handmaid’s Tale. I had never read anything by Margaret Atwood, but always wanted to, so I was excited when a coworker lent me a copy. Little did I know what I had been missing.

As I’ve mentioned several times before, my favorite books are ones that take me out of my own world while teaching me something about it. I love learning through defamiliarization because it challenges the assumption of normality in our everyday lives. It gives a different perspective on things we have become accustomed to experiencing every day—so much so that we don’t even notice them anymore. But authors like Margaret Atwood make us notice.

Continue Reading

A Bit of Greece!

Long time no see! I know it seems like I’ve dropped off the face off the Earth, but not quite—I’ve been in Greece! My dad’s side of the family is Greek, and they organized a huge family reunion (150+ people) on the island of Crete. It was absolutely amazing and I already can’t wait to go back. Crete is the biggest island of Greece and sits in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. One of the highlights of the trip was hiking through the Samariá Gorge (I may dedicate a whole post to the topic later). It was really long and really challenging, but very beautiful.

We also visited Athens, where I of course got to see the Acropolis and other ancient ruins. While seeing the ruins was amazing, the city was extremely hot and I was sad to see that there is graffiti and abandoned buildings everywhere. It seems like the economy is doing okay in Crete, but not so much in Athens.

I’m hoping to be able to post more frequently now that I’m back, but I also just got a new job which is taking up a lot of my time! Hopefully I’ll be back to reading and reviewing books very soon.

In the meantime, take a look at some pictures from my trip!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A Warm, Furry Welcome

It’s often said that dogs are a man’s best friend, but that’s a serious over-generalization. While cats are generally associated with women (such as “crazy cat ladies”), why can’t men also have a special bond with felines? The cat in this video isn’t putting up with such limiting stereotypes. Because the soldier about to walk through the door is clearly his best friend, and I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual. Here’s your fluffy, feel-good video of the week:

A Story Inked on Skin

Over the winter I posted about Shelley Jackson’s project called Snow, in which she wrote words in the snow and photographed them one by one to create an ongoing story. But that isn’t the first time she’s explored new ways of storytelling.

Skin is a project that Jackson launched in 2003. She wrote a 2,095-word story, and then put out a call in Cabinet Magazine for people to tattoo one word of the story on themselves. She screened the people who responded, and gave those she approved a word, a contract to sign, and strict guidelines (you may not trade your assigned word for another, the word must be tattooed in black with no embellishments, etc.). There are now over 2,000 volunteers with one of Shelley Jackson’s words tattooed on their bodies, collectively creating a narrative.

Continue Reading