Allison's Book Bag

Among my circle of pet-loving friends, The Cat Club books by Esther Averill have become popular. We’re unable to resist these adorable tales of a cute black kitty named Jenny and her feline companions. One of my friends even bought a few of the books for her daughters. After which, she lent two of them to me that I had yet to read. Now I’m bringing them to your attention.

Jenny Goes to Sea is about the adventures of four cats at sea. Soon after Jenny and two brothers board The Sea Queen, they meet the ship captain’s cat. Jack Tar tells Jenny and Edward that the two have come from a long line of the noble cats of Egypt and then gives their other sibling the mysterious news that some of his relations may have come from Siam. For several weeks, the cats amuse themselves by strolling decks, climbing ropes, counting whitecaps, and walking the gangplank. Just as they start to get bored, they see land ahead and decide to go ashore. This is when this sleepy adventure story starts to pick up pace. Sometime after getting his fortune told, Checkers goes off in search of a palace in Siam. This act results in Jenny disobeying her master and Jack Tar almost losing his job as the ship captain’s cat. At times the story felt almost too light-hearted and fanciful, but nonetheless this tale from 1957 contains an enduring innocence and charm.

Captains of the Streets is about how three rough-and-tumble street cats became part of The Cat Club. Born and raised in New York, Sinbad and The Duke took off for the south side of then city but soon found themselves hungry and desperate. They sought out Tramps Last Stop, a place known for providing cats with handouts. Here, they meet up with Patchy Pete who tried to steer them towards the east side. But nothing can deter the two brothers from searching for a place of their own. Patchy Pete accused them of being soft. They proved him wrong with their boxing abilities and with their cunning in finding food. Then through finding compassionate folks and intelligent feline companions, they also showed Patchy Pete why having a place of one’s own just might be a good idea. This tale from 1972 feels real to how street cats might live, while also providing readers with the satisfaction of a happy end. The story has a lot of heart and is one of my favorite Cat Club books.

Fans of the Cat Club books will be happy to know that many of their favorite characters make an appearance in one of both books. Besides Jenny and her brothers, Pickles the fire cat appears in two chapters of Jenny Goes to Sea. The President and other Cat Club members are featured in more than one chapter of Captains of the Streets. These two titles should take a cherished place on your shelves, along with Jenny and the Cat Club.

AwwwMondays-Puppy-AvatarWith our household of critters having expanded to include three cats and a dog, I thought it fitting to join a meme related to pets. After searching around, I came across Awww….. Mondays. The one rule is: “Post a picture that makes you say Awww…. and that’s it.” Every photo seemed to feature a pet and so the meme is a perfect.”

“Sadly, there are also some concerns ahead.” So I reported about Barnaby in August. After trying various medications, nothing cleared the sludge from his gall bladder. If anything, the sludge had gotten worse.

Next step? The vet ran annual blood work. All values came back normal except one for his liver. Our vet thought the elevation could be due to the sludge. The time for exploring options was over. She referred us to a specialist.

Last Thursday, my husband and I drove to Kansas with Barnaby. When we checked in at the vet hospital, we were asked lots of questions about his symptoms. The main ones are lack of energy and limited interest in food. A vet tech took Barnaby back to specialist, who would use more elaborate equipment to assess his gall bladder. Andy and I drove to a nearby restaurant for lunch and tried not to worry as waited for the vet’s call.

An hour later, we were back at the vet hospital. The specialist told us that the amount of sludge in Barnaby’s gall bladder was not atypical for a dog his age. We should continue to monitor and to treat, but there was no need yet for surgery. There probably wouldn’t be anytime soon.

After celebrating this news, we asked about his finicky appetite. The specialist suggested we talk with our local vet about food allergies. If this turns out not to be an issue, then age is probably the culprit. At twelve years, he simply may prefer to get spoiled.

Next week, I’ll return to stories about how The Cat Trio adjusted to one another. In the meantime, want to add a smile to your week? Visit Comedy Plus or Burnt Food Dude and see what others are sharing about pets.

Saturday Snapshot invites bloggers to share photos. Andy and I spent the month of July in Newfoundland with my family. This week, I’m posting the last of my photos dedicated to that trip. They are of the smaller events.I

Andy and I started out visiting St. John’s, the most easterly city in North America. While there, Andy and I took time to explore its iconic side. The older side of St. Johns is known for its “colourful jellybean row houses wedged together in every space”. Although Andy and I were at times frustrated by trying to maneuver the city’s narrow and steep streets, which seem to randomly criss-cross one other, we were also delighted by the city’s distinct architecture.

After exploring the East Coast of Newfoundland, Andy and I headed inland to my family’s home. On the first weekend, all of us went out for a meal at The Mount Peyton Hotel. My new favorite traditional Newfoundland dishes are now toutons (shown in the first photo below) and bread pudding, replacing fish and chips.

For a week, Andy and I mostly allowed ourselves to be lazy. We read books, took naps, played games, and enjoyed my step-mom’s homecooked meals. Oh, and I wrote some articles about Newfoundland pet rescue groups.

After that, Andy and I got busy visiting folks. As always, Andy and I took time to eat at restaurants unique to the area. We ate a few times at Mary Brown’s. The very first Mary Brown’s opened in St. John’s in 1969, and now the chain has over 100 locations throughout Canada. We ate at A&W, where Robert has worked for the past year. Last, we checked out Papa’s Sweet Shop. It’s a family business which serves up ice-cream, hot dogs and nachos, and old-fashioned sweets.

In our final weekend, there was another highlight. Members of my home church, Windsor Pentecostal Tabernacle, were encouraged to attend a memorial at the cemetery. The event was an informal one, where people showed up at various times during a set time period. My dad and I bought a bouquet of roses to place at my mother’s grave.

All too soon, the end of July arrived and we faced saying goodbye to my family for another year. On our return trip, my supportive husband always comes up with a series of questions to help keep my mind off being homesick. We talked about what we’d miss about Newfoundland, what we were looking forward to in Nebraska, and plans for future visits. This year, we bought ourselves treats at Eddy’s Yogurt Factory in South Brook. We each selected a flavor of yogurt and then piled on the toppings. Our vacations are always full of big and small moments, just as life itself should be.


Among other things, my dad raised me love books and to love the Christian faith. For that reason, whenever I add religious books to my wish list, I let him know about them. Sooner or later, most of those books show up as gifts. The most recent books my dad gave me are: Case for Faith, Allure of Gentleness, and Man Myth Messiah.

Case for Faith by Lee Strobel interested me for two main reasons. My first reason was that Strobel is a journalist well-known in Christian circles for his four nonfiction books that explore evidence for the faith and refute challenges. I have three of them. The second reason for my interest was that In Case for Grace, Strobel writes about the transforming power of God’s grace on several men and women–including Strobel himself. During his teens, Strobel left his home, determined to prove himself to the world. My one disappointment is that I expected Case for Grace to focus more exclusively on Strobel. The first and last chapters do cover the broken relationship between Strobel and his dad. Moreover, there are occasional references throughout the other chapters. Beyond that, the format of Case for Grace is reminiscent of What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey, a favorite Christian author of mine, in that it about a diversity of real people. There’s the ones whom we might typically associate with needing redemption such as the drop-outs, addicts, and gang members. But there are also the ones who are less cliche such as the intellectual. Craig Hazen had always been a good guy, sciene geek, and teacher’s favorite. He started out as an agnostic, but eventually took a journey that led him to belief in the validity of the faith. One of the most touching is of Stephanie, who grew up biracial in Korean, when there wasn’t a place for biracial children. She faced both abandonment and abuse and grew up believing herself to be garbage.

alluregentlenessAllure of Gentleness by Dallas Willard caught my attention when I browsed my hometown’s Christian bookstore this past summer. Number one reason was that I felt challenged by an earlier book of his, Spirit of the Disciplines. That book helped me better understand the place of solitude, prayer, meditation, sacrifice, and service in the Christian life. Another reason for my interest was that, according to the subtitle, about defending the faith in the manner of Jesus. I’ve been going through a season of reading about apologetics and Willard’s approach intrigued me. There’s much I appreciate Allure of Gentleness, including the simplicity or casualness of its tone. With each new chapter, I felt almost as if Willard were having a conversation with his readers. I also found of interest his contention that apologetics isn’t for those outside of the faith; but for the doubters and questioners within the faith. While I did initially seek out books on apologetics as a way to answer questions by the skeptics, I’ve also come to find them to reassure me when I walk through valleys. Because reading material in defense of the Christian faith isn’t new to me, I found myself already acquainted with much of what Willard wrote. Yet I still enjoyed Allure of Gentleness and believe it a worthy addition to my shelves.

Man Myth and Messiah by Rice Broocks ended up on my wish list after my husband and I saw the God’s Not Dead movies. The book was released concurrent to the God’s Not Dead movie sequel, which covered the same theme. In the first chapter, Brocks refers to the famous trilemma posed by C.S. Lewis in an earlier generation. Lewis said that based on the claims of Jesus in the Gospels about being the Son of God, Jesus was either a lunatic (because Jesus thought He was God), a liar (because He knew his claim wasn’t true), or He was indeed the Messiah. Brocks goes onto explain how the legend or myth got added to the list. The question has apparently been raised, “What if Jesus didn’t claim to be the Son of God?” That would mean all our stories about Him are simply legends. The rest of Man Myth and Messiah presents evidence to validate the existence of the historical Jesus and concludes with a call for everyone to make a choice about whom they will believe.

All three of the books I’ve mentioned fall under the category of apologetics. There’s a part of faith that needs to come from the heart and emotion. I’m ready now to check out some of those titles, including a biography that my husband gave me about a missionary. At the same time, part of faith should also come from the mind and reason. Even the scriptures admonish believers to always be ready to give a defense of their faith. For these purposes, I encourage you to check out my three recent summer reads.

Having spent the past month posting photos from my most recent trip to Newfoundland, I thought it an ideal time to share links to a couple of articles I wrote about animal welfare groups in my home province. One rescues cats and dogs; the other is trying to save the iconic Newfoundland pony. Enjoy!

Two years ago, I started following the misadventures of Milo, a cat who came to Central Paws as a kitten. Just skin and bones at the time of his surrender, followers of the volunteer group’s Facebook page saw Milo fill out in size to a healthy cat while at the same time apparently develop medical and/or behavioral issues. Yet he was proving so affectionate, curious, and playful that many like me were falling for him and wishing him a forever home. In the summer of 2015, while on a visit to my hometown of Grand Falls-Windsor in my home province of Newfoundland, I made it a priority to meet the founder of Central Paws and to check out the cat whose stories had demanded my attention….

To read more check out my post Homeless Pets in Central Newfoundland.

You might also find of interest a review of mine about three animal books by a Newfoundland author: Take a Picture Journey with Catherine Simpson.

NLPoniesGroupThe eleven ponies living at the Newfoundland Pony Sanctuary are of all ages. The youngest are just two-years-old, and both have their own special story. Kate was named after royalty, while Angel is a special-needs filly who initially had to be bottle-fed every few hours. The three oldest are in their twenties and thirties, and have their own stories too. Twenty-three-year-old Heidi was rescued from an abusive situation. Although she remains shy of strangers, she shows great care and affection to her two foals. Twenty-eight-year-old Strawberry is one of the originals of the Sanctuary. She’s described as an “old-timer who has a breathing problem called heaves,” and is one of the horses who has benefited from the Sanctuary’s new barn in 2015. The new barn helps her breathing because “there’s less dust floating around and her hay can be watered down daily”. And finally there’s thirty-year-old, Princess, who is considered sweet and a lover of attention. She has one foal, Charm. When Charm herself became a mother, the Sanctuary gained the proud distinction of having four generations of the Newfoundland pony.

To read more check out my post Saving the Newfoundland Pony.

You might also find of interest a review of mine about a book by a Newfoundland author that features the aforementioned Sanctuary: Newfoundland Pony Tales by Marion Brake.


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This past spring, I announced that it was time to take a step back from this blog. At the same time, I promised that I’d pop back occasionally to participate in memes and to share some reading gems. In that spirit, what lays ahead for this month are reviews of some of my summer reads.

  • three Newfoundland picture books
  • three religious books
  • more pet magazine reviews



Cat Writers’ Association
Artists Helping Animals

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