For all you cat lovers – a heartwarming book of tales from The Critter Room live kitten cam

The past 6 weeks have been so busy! It’s been worth every moment. I offered to become a part of a 5-person committee of dedicated cat lovers whose goal it was to get one very talented British author and illustrator published. We were on a quest to get her collection of stories printed and made available to the public.

Those of you familiar with The Critter Room and TinyKittens will know to whom I refer. Viewing live kitten cams along with thousands of other rabid fans from around the world, Jill Pickford began writing fanciful stories about individual cats and kittens that had captured her heart. In the midst of writing these tales she created a magical world that kept readers clamoring for more.

And thus was born Sing to the Moon: Tales from the Kitten Cam.

It’s been a long time since my reading experience has been truly visceral. While reading Sing to the Moon, I laughed out loud many times. I was also as quick to grab a tissue. There was something about these stories that truly touched my heart. And it’s not just because I am a self-confessed cat lady. Sure, I love cats (having 2 of my own) and I am as addicted to live kitten cams (and the daily reports on Facebook) as anyone. What really grabbed me about these stories was the world that unfolded before me as the book progressed. It was a place I thoroughly enjoyed visiting and was very sad to leave. When I finished the book I felt like I had gone on a long vacation in my head. And it was a really nice feeling.

Jill Pickford is not only a marvelous writer but a terrific illustrator. Several of the stories are graced with her simple drawings which embody the spirit of the book.

One aspect of Sing to the Moon that I appreciated was that “hoomins,” (aka, people) were portrayed as compassionate and caring. This is not always the case in animal stories. Pickford’s book reflects that aspect of the Live Kitten Cam community that I find so wonderful. Taking after the leaders (John Bartlett, aka “Foster Dad John” of The Critter Room and Shelly Roche of TinyKittens), this community is filled with people as generous and loving towards each other as they are towards cats and kittens.

It helps to know the backstory of these tales along with their very special language (including British colloquialisms). If you are unfamiliar with the world of live kitten cams or if you are rusty with kitten cam language, there is a glossary of terms on the Sing to the Moon Facebook page along with pictures of the many cats and kittens featured in Sing to the Moon.

Want to know more about what went on behind scenes of this quest to bring this book to print? Check out the blog post of our illustrious editor and proofreader, Mar Penner Griswold.

All the royalties from sales of this book support a wonderful no-kill cat shelter known as Purrfect Pals, located in Arlington, WA; this is the shelter that sponsors The Critter Room. Your purchase helps abandoned cats and kittens find good and loving homes.

Be sure and join the Sing to the Moon Facebook page where you can talk with the author and join a wonderful community of fans.

Nancy Freeman, the creator of our committee, had a dream to bring a collection of . Sing to the Moon will be a constant reminder to us that dreams really can come true!

I close with some more illustrations from the book.

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Spring means kitten season is in full swing! Catch up with The Critter Room and TinyKittens.

the_critter_room_note_cards_pk_of_10-horzGoodness, kitten season has kicked off in a big way as seen through the live cams of The Critter Room and TinyKittens.

“What are live kitten cams,” you say?

Foster Dad John Bartlett with Spock
Foster Dad John Bartlett with Spock

It’s a real world view of kittens being fostered by people dedicated to their welfare. The cams come complete with chat rooms so you can get to know your fellow cat lovers. It’s a great stress reliever, community builder and kitten classroom where viewers can learn all about the ups and downs of fostering kittens. Continue reading “Spring means kitten season is in full swing! Catch up with The Critter Room and TinyKittens.”

Latest Catholic Free Press Column – Lessons learned from crazy cat people

This is my latest monthly column for The Catholic Free Press.
I have now admitted in print that I am a crazy cat lady! 🙂

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

I am a crazy cat lady. There, I said it.

While I have two cats of my own, that’s only the beginning. I also follow live kitten cams online and chat regularly with the many viewers. My main reason for visiting Facebook is to follow the lives of foster kittens after they have been adopted. Continue reading “Latest Catholic Free Press Column – Lessons learned from crazy cat people”

The most precious of gifts: listening

I created a video for this post with a musical backdrop and images to inspire you. You can read the text below:

Recently I wrote a post about dealing with the noise, busyness and general chaos of the Christmas season. Our involvement in the many worthwhile activities of decorating, cooking, entertaining, party-hopping, buying and wrapping gifts, sending cards, volunteering our time and treasure to charities, and spending time with our families can make our heads spin. I proposed that a renewed focus on the season of Advent, with its call to simplicity and quiet, would make a wonderful antidote.

Elderly woman sits alone for Christmas by simpleinsomnia, Flickr Creative Commons
Elderly woman sits alone for Christmas by simpleinsomnia, Flickr Creative Commons

A reader responded with an unexpected comment: “I have the opposite problem. I would love a bit of noise and chaos at Christmas.” Jay described her situation of caring for a homebound mother and a disabled husband, with other family members living too far away to visit. Suddenly my assumption that a quiet Christmas was best for everyone felt arbitrary. “Quiet” can assume many forms, including loneliness and isolation.

I immediately wrote back to Jay, attempting to offer some consolation; I wanted to do something to mitigate her circumstance. In the writing I realized that I too understood the ramifications of a Christmas “gone quiet.” My own family circle has grown noticeably smaller over the years with my parents gone and my sister, brother-in-law and nephews scattered across the country. Although the circumstances were different, Jay and I ended up sharing a common problem.

1935 Juldagen by Britt-Marie Sohlström, Flickr Creative Commons
1935 Juldagen by Britt-Marie Sohlström, Flickr Creative Commons

Jay responded to my letter, opening up about her situation. Because of her husband’s disability, it is nearly impossible for them to visit friends. In fact, in order to see her mother on Christmas day, she has to leave him behind. She waxed nostalgic on the past, writing, “we had such a lovely time with the cousins and aunts and uncles when I was a child, and when we lived closer by.” She wrote of longing to help others, of getting a tree only to leave it unadorned and of the futility of buying gifts when no one really needed anything. She gently berated herself in her longing for Christmases past full of Santa Claus, gifts and overeating; as a teacher in the Methodist church she is keenly aware of the true meaning of the day.

However, as we continued to write back and forth, I noticed her mood quickly shifting from laments to gratitude. Jay began recounting her blessings, most notably the love she has for her husband and mother. I could feel the warmth of that love coming across the Atlantic from her home in Ipswich, England to mine in North Grafton, Massachusetts. It was then that I began to understand the power behind listening.

I had entered into the correspondence assuming my usual role of problem solver; I was going to make everything better! It soon became clear however that I was meant to be a friend; to listen to and acknowledge another person’s life story. It was not about me solving a problem and looking like a hero; it was about Jay needing someone to be fully present, listening with mind and heart. Paying attention to her life rather than mine required humility.

Yet, once I surrendered to the idea, I could see God’s grace unfolding. The focus of our letters changed from melancholic remembrances to gratitude for the blessings we both enjoy. Gratitude fueled action with Jay vowing to get into the spirit by attending a couple of get-together lunches and taking in a local concert of carols presented by her town’s brass band. I, in turn, volunteered to join a band of Christmas carolers in our parish, and inquired about taking communion to nursing home residents. Jay and I are exchanging gifts through the mail. Listening has turned strangers into friends.

Virginia McMillan cuddled up cats, Flickr Creative Commons
Virginia McMillan cuddled up cats, Flickr Creative Commons

Our correspondences caused me to examine myself: why do I insist on giving people what I would not want for myself? When I share my heart with someone, I don’t want judgment or unsolicited advice or easy answers. Many problems cannot be solved but rather, must be endured. I just want a sympathetic ear. Doesn’t it make sense then that sometimes my family and friends, neighbors and even strangers just want someone to accept where they are at that very moment and sit close by, saying nothing?

I experienced this recently as another friend shared with me the pain of watching her best friend slip away behind the fog of dementia. I empathized, recalling my mother’s mental deterioration and personality change, but decided that it was best just to let her talk. We ended our conversation in silence, looking at each other with misty eyes.

Jay taught me how to do that.

If I were to sit on Santa’s knee, I would say: “St. Nicholas, please ask the Lord to help me grow in grace as a good listener.”

For listening is one of the most precious gifts we can give to each other.

Note: It turns out Jay and I have something else in common–Foster Dad John’s Critter Room!

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Give a gift of kittens to your friends while supporting a no-kill cat shelter – 20% Off on The Critter Room Memory Book!

Wondering what to give your cat-loving friend?

How about giving twice with just one purchase?

640 critter room memory book banner1For a limited time during this holiday season, The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One is being offered at a 20% discount – now just $15.95 for this 68 page book chock full of:

  • tons of color photos from Foster Dad John, “Mr  Ripley” (James Petts) and Tam Woods  including closeups of your favorite kittens and mama cats. Lots of Facebook screen shots.
  • an interview with Foster Dad John by Connie of “Tails of Foster Kittens”
  • fan art by Cazul R, “Thorn” and Sandra Andreasen
  • kitten collages by Nicoya Grobman
  • fan fiction by Jill Pickford and Annie Staats
  • remembrances of Peter and Honey

Purrfect Pals, the fabulous no-kill cat shelter that sponsors The Critter Room receives $7.15 for each book sold.

Check out these sample pages:

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Ruth Ludlam recently reviewed The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One  on Amazon:

I have been watching the Foster Kitten Cam and share the experience of the community described in this book. It seems to me that different people understand the kitten cam in different ways. Some just enjoy seeing cute kittens. Others learn about cats and fostering. Susan Hoyle Bailey shares my perception of the kitten cam as a force for the good in the lives of all involved. The experience brings out empathy, altruism, and generosity in the viewers, and we learn these qualities from Foster Dad John and from each other. I watch for more than just loving the kittens and cats; I watch because I know this is a community with a positive impact on the world. I would like to think that the goodness shared in the community ripples out and touches the lives of others, even those who really don’t get why we watch and care so much.

Thank you for expressing the goodness of the kitten cam community so clearly, and sharing your thoughts with the world.

Introduce your friends to the wonderful work done by Purrfect Pals including their Foster-Prison program which is now socializing two of Foster Dad John’s kittens, Ellen and Luna.

Get The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One for the cat-lover in your life or treat yourself to a copy.

Another way to give to Purrfect Pals is to buy copies for them to sell in their store–they receive the donation from your purchase plus the sale of the book in their store. You can send your books to:

Purrfect Pals
230 McRae Rd NE
Arlington, WA 98223

Thank you for your support of Purrfect Pals.

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The reviews are in! Update on the success of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One

Thanks to all of you who have ordered The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One – so far we’ve raised over $900 for the Purrfect Pals no-kill cat shelter (exact figures – 102 books sold, $910.68 USD; ÂŁ17.20 GBP; €17.28 EUR).

Here are reviews from Amazon, :

5 star graphic
I just wanted to let you know that I received my book today. All I can say is….. MARVELOUS!!! This book is a wonderful reminder of all the work and effort John puts into all his fosters. I laughed, I cried. I remembered. The only John left out in his interview is how Dorian flirts with each Momcat. LOL This is great fundraiser for Purrfect Pals. I can’t wait for the next volume. Well done to everyone who was a big part of the creation of this book.
A lovely book! Perfect for any fan of The Critter Room or, really, anyone who loves cats and kittens. Looking forward to Volume 2!
Received my book yesterday and had to look it over on the spot. In a word: PAWSOME! Even if you are not a follower of The Critter Room, the stories about these kitty families, coupled with the tireless efforts Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals, is absolutely heart warming. I love the fact that you have their early days chronicled in front of you and can the follow them on Facebook to see where they are today. Can’t wait for Volume 2!
What a wonderful book. Foster Dad John and Purrfect Pals will touch your heart.

Double the Donation!

How about buying two or three extra books to send directly to Purrfect Pals so they can sell them in the store?  That doubles the donation and exposes more people to the book. Contact Connie Gabelein on the Purrfect Pals website to let her know of your intention and to find out the shelter’s address.

What inspired me to make the book

1. Two kittens – Ray and Arthur (now Ace) – I wanted high quality prints of these two adorable guys:

ray and arthur

2. All the wonder fan art:

L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R - Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen
L- Honey welcome Peter by Cazul R; R – Sheba reads to Honey and Peter by Sandra Sarah Bjødstrup Andreasen

 3. The fan fiction by Jill Pickford and Annie Staats which includes “Over the Bridge” and Ray’s letter to Trillian.

Now I have my scrapbook of memories and many of you do as well. Grab your copy of The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One if you don’t have one yet, donate copies to Purrfect Pals or give some as gifts – Christmas is coming … 🙂

Thanks for all your support of Purrfect Pals!

It’s here! A scrapbook of your favorite kitten cam memories

box artI am pleased to present The Critter Room Memory Book  Volume One packed with all kinds of goodies! Within its 68 full color pages you will find:

  • tons of color photos from Foster Dad John, “Mr  Ripley” (James Petts) and Tam Woods  including closeups of your favorite kittens and mama cats. Lots of Facebook screen shots.
  • an interview with Foster Dad John by Connie of “Tails of Foster Kittens”
  • fan art by Cazul R, “Thorn” and Sandra Andreasen
  • kitten collages by Nicoya Grobman
  • fan fiction by Jill Pickford and Annie Staats
  • remembrances of Peter and Honey

This volume includes the following litters:

  • Hitchhiker Fosters
  • Ghostbuster Kittens
  • Pixar Fosters
  • AI Fosters

640 critter room memory book banner1

There is something here for everyone, including Purrfect Pals.

purrfect palsPurrfect Pals, located in Arlington, WA is the no-kill cat shelter that sponsors The Critter Room. Your purchases will help Purrfect Pals find homes for deserving cats and kittens, including cats with medical conditions. Foster Dad John volunteers for the shelter; they provide him with the food, litter and veterinary care needed for each of his litters.

Purrfect Pals receives the entire royalty;
for every book sold, they receive $10.25.

With that in mind, consider what would happen if we were able to sell 1000 books. Think about that for a moment …

Purchase your copy here.

Meanwhile …

Just what is The Critter Room?

Are you a cat lover but have never heard of The Critter Room or Foster Dad John? Check out the live kitten cam on Livestream – I dare you to tear yourself away. Then check out The Critter Room Facebook page for more information on all the good work being done by Foster Dad John (John Barlett).

Then rush right back here and place your order!

People are benefiting from The Critter Room as much as cats and kittens.
Here are some examples:

640 critter room memory book banner1

Take up the challenge!

Let’s look at the numbers …

With over 37,00 followers on Facebook and over 42,000 followers on Livestream, we should easily be able to sell 1000 books by October 1st, giving Purrfect Pals a donation of $10,350.

We depend upon you to spread the word.

  • Share on all your social media: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and on your websites and blogs.
  • Tell your cat loving friends about The Critter Room Memory Book Volume One.
  • Go to Amazon.com and write a review after you’ve received your book. Here are the links for Amazon in Europe: Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.it, and Amazon.es.
  • Buy copies as gifts.
  • Leave comments on this page with suggestions on blogs and websites that I can contact to promote this book.

Issuing the 1K / 10K Challenge

1000 books sold = $10,000 for Purrfect Pals. Let’s sell 1000 copies by October 1!
You can purchase your copy here.

If you prefer to purchase through Amazon and would like to donate extra to Purrfect Pals to make up the difference, here are the royalty payments from Amazon:

  • Amazon.com $6.36
  • Amazon Europe – For books printed in Great Britain ÂŁ3.44
  • Amazon Europe – For books printed in continental Europe €4.32

Purrfect Pals accepts donations at bookkeeper@purrfectpals.org

My thanks to John Bartlett, the photographers, screen shot shooters, artists, writers, my proofreader and Connie Gabelein, Executive Director of Purrfect Pals for making this book possible and for making it a joy to put together. I have personally wanted a book I could pull out with my favorite kittens inside and now it is here!

Enjoy!

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Pressing the flesh: 60 Kitten Cammers meet for the first time

Dispelling the notion that virtual friendships are not real, sixty fans of The Critter Room kitten cam are gathering this weekend at Purrfect Pals in Arlington, WA to meet for the first time. Many were local but some came from as far away as Boston and even Australia. They organized the first annual Kitten Cam Con.

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Kitty-Cam-Launches-A-Cat-Convention-258698351.html?mobile=y
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Kitty-Cam-Launches-A-Cat-Convention-258698351.html?mobile=y

Having been a part of close virtual communities in the past (associated with my music), I can tell you that meeting people you have been corresponding with online is akin to meeting someone famous. There’s that moment of awkwardness when the veil of technology is lifted and you can actually look at, speak with, and hug, that dear friend you have been confiding in for so long. The level of intimacy changes and you are now pressing the flesh. It’s an exhilarating feeling.

I imagine there was a lot of squealing with glee, tears, laughter and hugs as these sixty representatives of the over forty thousand that follow The Critter Room fulfilled their dream of meeting their friends.

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Kitty-Cam-Launches-A-Cat-Convention-258698351.html?mobile=y
http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Kitty-Cam-Launches-A-Cat-Convention-258698351.html?mobile=y

Virtual friendships are not new. Before chat rooms and emails there was letter writing. How many of us had pen pals from far away as kids? I had a German pen pal, one from a neighboring state and another from Hawaii. I only got to see the Hawaiian friend and each time it was glorious moving from the written word to hugs and kisses.

I commend and envy all of you at the Kitten Cam Con and am with you in spirit. I hope someday I can meet some of you.

The Average Joe Cat Show (where you can vote for your favorite cat online for a small donation) is taking place at Purrfect Pals as well. These are certainly innovative folks! No wonder they haven’t had to buy any kitten food the last two years (as stated by the executive director of Purrfect Pals).

This is the power of community. Kudos!

PHOTO BY LINDSEY WASSON  THE SEATTLE TIMES David Clem holds Tory, one of two cats he and wife, LuAnn Smith, adopted after John Bartlett, right, fostered the kitten and its mom and siblings. Clem and Smith saw Tory and her brother Grant on Bartlett's Foster Kitten Cam, which has more than 40,000 followers.
PHOTO BY LINDSEY WASSON THE SEATTLE TIMES
David Clem holds Tory, one of two cats he and wife, LuAnn Smith, adopted after John Bartlett, right, fostered the kitten and its mom and siblings. Clem and Smith saw Tory and her brother Grant on Bartlett’s Foster Kitten Cam, which has more than 40,000 followers.

The local press took notice of the event and posted two wonderful articles about the Kitten Cam Con and all the wonderful work done by Foster Dad John. If you can’t be there, these are the next best thing:

Bothell kitten cam goes viral, watchers gather for own convention – The Seattle Times

Popular kitty cam launches a cat convention – KOMO News – you can watch the telecast and read the article

On to the next litter, coming soon …

Click to Tweet & Share: Pressing the flesh: 60 Kitten Cammers meet for the first time http://wp.me/p2D9hg-EX

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There is such a thing as happily ever after – The Critter Room: a microcosm of a perfect world

In a previous post I shared about a special community of lovers, one that revolved around a foster dad, a homeless pregnant cat dubbed Janine and her three kittens, Egon, Ray and Peter (known as the Ghostbuster kittens). I wrote about how this community pulled together in the wake of the loss of sweet Peter at only four days old. I shared about the generosity and daring of a man who spends so much time caring for God’s creatures.

640 ghostbusters cropped

Yesterday was adoption day for the Ghostbusters.

It was a storybook ending, the one many of us had hoped and prayed for. It proved yet again there is such a thing as “happily ever after.”

Many joyful tears were shed when the following graphic appeared on the live kitten cam broadcast:

adoption status

Peter had been included among the adopted and here’s why:

“Janine, Ray, & Egon are being adopted together and Peter’s adoption fee was donated by an anonymous viewer in California. Peter’s tag will be mailed to them. Janine’s adoption fee was donated by a viewer in Vancouver, BC.
Happy tears all around!” from a post by Foster Dad John on The Critter Room

It showed me there can indeed be a perfect world.

The Critter Room community is a microcosm of a perfect world. This does not mean that things don’t go wrong. The Critter Room cam is after all an unedited slice of real life and nature will take her course. But when things do go wrong, the love, thoughtfulness and generosity of the community rights those wrongs.

We can’t get back what we lost. But we can be healed, even transformed. We can move on, taking our fresh tears and loving memories with us, into a new reality of renewed hope. We can share that hope outside of The Critter Room; we can rock our world.

Little communities such as The Critter Room show that if we as a people can unite in love and caring for the least of these, our bigger world will be a better place. That caring comes one at a time: one kitten, one mama, one family, one community.

from https://www.facebook.com/TheCritterRoom
from https://www.facebook.com/TheCritterRoom

Caring begins with the one and multiplies like a stone thrown into a pond, creating a ripple effect. That ripple effect is evident in this community from the friendship shown in the chat room, to the beautiful fan art, to the generous donations made to shelters, to the adopters willing to take on multiple fosters and finally, to the numerous new foster moms and dads who have taken in their own families in honor of what is done in The Critter Room.

What one will you care for today? Warning: this could rock your world!

Now a trip down memory lane thanks to videos provided by BrookIvy2 on Youtube:

Ray Traps Himself

“Sometimes when you hold a kitten, it’s hard to put them down. Really, they won’t leave!”

Ghostbusters Wrap-up

Congratulations and many thanks to CatlessNoMore, the adopter (the “hoomin”) of the Ghostbusters!

Click to Tweet & Share: Such a thing as “happily ever after?” The Critter Room: a microcosm of a perfect world http://wp.me/p2D9hg-DV @TheCritterRoom

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Farewell to Ripley’s Kittens – a video by Cherry Martini

For the many thousands of you who have followed the lives and antics of this mother tuxedo cat and her five kittens online, you know that today is bittersweet. As one chat member dubbed it, it’s “Graduation Day.” Ripley and her kittens will be adopted out to their forever (aka “furever”) homes bringing joy into households in the Washington state area.

Artwork by Thorn Bulle - Visit her blog at http://www.bulleblog.com
Artwork by Thorn Bulle – Visit her blog at http://www.bulleblog.com

It may seem like a waste of time to foster kittens (and even more so to spend hours watching them online). The true mystery and beauty of life, however, lie in these little things. There are countless stories of kitty watchers (who call themselves “stalkers”) finding comfort from the grind of daily life: grief, pain, physical ailments and loneliness are assuaged for a time watching a family of kittens grow and thrive.

Foster dad John with Ash
Foster dad John with Ash

There is something very touching about a grown man cradling a kitten in his hands, giving the little tummy the raspberries. 🙂

The commitment of time and resources is far more than anyone could imagine. Especially the emotional commitment.

It’s all very life-affirming. God, I’m sure, would approve.

So on this adoption day I wanted to share the customary goodbye video created by Cherry Martini on http://animoto.com:

Click to Tweet & Share: Farewell to Ripley’s Kittens – a video by Cherry Martini http://wp.me/p2D9hg-pc

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