June 5, 2014

A Tribute to Puck

I love cats and dogs. I cannot say that I am a cat or a dog person because I love them both equally. After we moved to Belgium and it was certain that we were more or less settled, I told Bas I wanted to get a cat. At first he was not very enthusiastic but later he came around and we decided to adopt a kitten from a shelter.
On June 2009, I went to the animal shelter in Schoten (dierenasiel schoten). I knew what I wanted: a female cat, preferably a calico. Once I got into the shelter a nice lady took me to in and led me to the "kitten room". As you can guess, it was full of kittens! All sizes, all colors, I felt like I was in a wonderland, I wanted to take them all home! One of them started purring immediately and started climbing up my leg but it did not look anything like the cat in my mind. First of all, it was a tiger, but not exactly a tiger either because it was also black and had white spots as well! It was also a "he" and not a "she".That moment I learned an important lesson: You do not choose your cat, but the cat chooses you. Sounds cliche but true.This little one had chosen me, I could feel it as he stared at me with his big green eyes. When it was time to go, he so eagerly stepped into the carrier that even the lady at the shelter was surprised :)

one of Puck's earliest pictures when he came to our house
He felt at home from day one. He was very comfortable and showed no signs of anxiety or stress. He was one happy little kitten! When Bas came back from work that evening, we started thinking of a name for him and agreed on "Puck". He looked and sounded more like a fairy cat to us than a real cat and therefore we thought the name Puck was fitting (to read more about Puck click here for the wiki entry).

Puck was a super energetic cat. He turned our house into a home. We shared every moment with him some said we were spoiling him a lot, but we did not mind. We loved him and I think he loved us as well. It was amazing to see him grow.

After we took Puck I learned that I was allergic to cats and dogs. My doctor told me not to get any more pets and said I should not let my cat into my bedroom. That was not possible of course. I mean how could I? I figured as long as I used my sprays regularly things were fine, and luckily they were. I loved sleeping with Puck next to me. When he grew up he grew out of it though.
Photo by Berend Boersma

Photo by Berend Boersma

He kept his kitten behaviour even after he grew up, probably because we encouraged it. He loved it when both Bas and I were in the same room and if we laughed out loud, that would trigger something in him and he would get very excited! He would start jumping and skipping and making funny kitten sounds. He was always up for a game and his favorite game was fetch!!! Yes! He loved playing fetch like dogs :) That would surprise and amuse all our friends and visitors.

Photo by Berend Boersma

If we went out, we would find a happy Puck when we came back home. He would start purring, he would rub himself against us, open up his belly for him to pet and keep this up for a while. Sometimes when Bas would go out briefly (to take the trash outside or such) he would just sit by the door and wait for him. Similarly when we would give him his food he would purr and rub himself against us and keep it up for a while before he started to eat. Even giving him his food was such a joy!

A picture of him that we had submitted on the cheezburger network got captioned and received high ratings. As a result that photo of Puck was featured on a desktop calendar and the "Itteh Bitteh Book of Kittehs" book published by this network :) Puck was an official LOLCAT!

His best mate was the Chihuahua of our neighbours, Obi. Obi and Puck loved playing together! Who says cats and dogs cannot get along?

I could not write down everything about Puck, pages are not enough words are not sufficient. He was a very very special cat. Unfortunately about two months ago we learned that he had lymph cancer, and that he was FIV +. It came as a shock a devastating blow. It progressed very fast and when the cortisone helped him no more we had to ask our vet to put him to sleep. He passed away on May 13, 2014. exactly five years old, since our vet had guessed his birthday to be somewhere in mid May.

Puck was very very special and he will not be forgotten.
You know, what makes a pet special is the love you give them, the care the attention. The days you spend together, the memories. Every pet is special to his/her owner. The kind of company you get from cats and dogs are very unique. Each animal has a different character, and it is a wonderful journey to have a pet, if you are ready to take on the responsibilities that come along with it.

Puck I will never forget you, you will always be in my heart.

June 3, 2014

Illustrator of the day: Luce Lagarde

I spent my childhood in Turkey in the early 80's and by then children's books were not so many in number. Luckily I had a nice library of books since I had an elder sister, and my parents never said no when I asked for a new book.
I loved books, the illustrated books and comics the most. I used to read my favorites over and over and some illustrations and images would stuck with me forever. Luce Lagarde's illustrations are some of them.
By then I did not know Lagarde's name (also the publishers of those days usually did not include the name of the illustrators of foreign translations) but I had several fairy tales collections illustrated by her. They were small books as I recall and the printing quality was very poor but I loved them. I remember holding those books very close to my nose and trying to dive into their world. I never ever forgot them.
Years later, as my interest in children's books illustration intensified following my art education I set out to collect works by my favorite illustrators of my childhood. It is a hard task since all I have are images in my mind. Some are easy to find since they became vintage classics and some are just plain impossible. Needless to say I go through millions of images online and visit as many second hand shops as I can in order to hunt down some of these wonderful artists.
I am happy to tell that I now own three books illustrated by Luce Lagarde in my library and one more is on its way! Yaay! Unfortunately I do not have any information about her and her life. Any help on this subject would be much appreciated!
Here are some of her illustrations for you to enjoy!

Snow Queen

Little Red Riding Hood

Les Aventures de Claudinet

Les Aventures de Claudinet

Le Plus Elegant des Canetons

Le Plus Elegant des Canetons

The Little Mermaid

The Shepherdess and The Chimney Sweep