Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Great Pumpkin Farm Tradition

It's that time of year when my husband Andrew and I meet up with friends for Oinktoberfest BBQ at The Great Pumpkin Farm in Clarence, NY. The weather kept saying it was going to be a little cooler outside and rainy ~ nope! It was perfect weather! If you recall last year it was sweltering. We've met at "noon at the camel" every year for the past seven years and we are already making plans for next year! I'm not sure the camel likes us meeting there...

Here's some pics from the previous years. (I'm missing a picture from 2012.)







So what can you find at the pumpkin farm? We enjoyed the usual: pumpkin beers, BBQ (Although I'm a little disappointed none of the vendors had corn bread), free hay ride, Tilt-a-Whirl, animals, haunted house, tons of pumpkins, and more! I ate my yearly pumpkin donut & cider, along with a cakey pumpkin spice "cookie". We even bought a pumpkin spice cookie to go too!


You can shop, or drink & eat at the Witch's Brew Bar & Cafe in the Pumpkin Palace.

(This proves I'm over 21. I know you're shocked.) 

So many pumpkins...

(Pumpkin pics from my friend Elizabeth.)  

This year I was excited to wear my limited edition Cat Coven T shirt and 
Fluffy Black Cat Hair Tie from Krampus Cuties.
(I wrote about ordering the Cat T last month.)

I love scarecrows.

Yes, those are spooky cat butts.

Group photo ~ this time we added Baby Odette!

Jenny & Odette.

Until next year Great Pumpkin Farm! As always you were fun-filled, now I'm ready for a nap. Zzzz

Monday, September 24, 2018

The First LOL Cat Photographer

If you're a cat lover, you've probably seen Harry Whittier Frees photography at some point but didn't know his name. He photographed kittens and puppies in the early 1900s dressed like people, performing domestic tasks in human poses. Some observers think they are creepy ~ they are certainly odd, but how did he get them to stay? The mystery is still unsolved.

Frees was born in Reading, Pa. in 1879 and worked there most of his life. Rumor has it that at a birthday party the guests were passing around a paper party hat. Someone placed it on the pet cat and Frees snapped a picture. A postcard manufacturer liked the image so much he reprinted it on cards. Frees was in the right place at the right time to start his fascinating career. (A job I'm quite jealous of I might add!)

He used live animals in his photographs and borrowed them from neighbors, breeders, and friends. His images graced the pages of calendars, magazines, novelties, and even his own books. His career lasted a whopping 50 years!

Frees had one assistant that made the tiny clothes for the animals. Some say she added wiring to the clothes to pose the animals just so. He always defended his methods of getting the animals to pose, stating that his techniques are humane. Getting live animals to sit still while wearing clothes can be a challenge and it is said that caused Frees a lot of anxiety, so he would only work three months out of the year to have time to recuperate. (Wow! I wish I could do that!) Even more frustrating only 30 out of 100 negatives could be used.

More recently it was suggested that he purposely stuffed the animals to get good photos, which was not uncommon to taxidermy animals during the Victorian time. Heck the Victorians always photographed their dead. But I personally have a hard time believing that. His first model was his cat Rags, and he loved animals. He said, "Rags possesses an unusual intellect for a cat. He has been known to keep a pose for several minutes without as much as the flicker of a whisker. When the very limit of his endurance has been reached he will give a protesting little murmur. A short romp on the ground, together with a choice bit of meat as a reward, will at once restore him to his former amiability.” Some interesting tips for photographing your pets from Frees...he said kittens are the best models and respond better to visuals and puppies respond more to sound.

I know the challenges of posing cats and how hard it can be. My shop Cats Like Us has had several photoshoots at the SPCA Serving Erie County. We would never dress their cats up because they all have different temperaments, but we feature adoptable cats with some of our small products for sale. It's a win-win when the kitties get adopted and the merchandise sells! You can read about it here.

Frees had mild success and cared for his parents until they passed in the 1940s. Eventually he moved to Clearwater, FL. and was diagnosed with cancer. Sadly, in March of 1953 he took his life.

Sode note: If you're a child of the 1980s and watched a lot of Night Flight, you probably saw a more recent take on dressing up Japanese kittens as bikers.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Movie: A Quiet Place (2018)

So with my fancy brand spanking new Family Video membership I rented A Quiet Place. I read a lot of hype about the premise and I was curious to see what it's about. I can tell you the premise was great but it really made me angry for several reasons.

***Warning Spoilers Ahead***

It starts off with a family scrounging for supplies in empty apocalyptic small town.  The audience is told it's "Day 89". There's a mom, dad and three kids, the oldest one wears a cohclear implant hearing aid. They don't make any noise and communicate via sign language. As they are walking back to their house you hear paper rustling, leaves blowing, birds chirping, and water dripping, so at this point you ask, why do the people have to be quiet?

In the first ten minutes you find out why and what the monster is. Their youngest boy trails behind. Why would you let him get so far away from the group if you know monsters are prowling around?!!! Gah. Bad parenting! He turns on a battery operated toy that makes noise and this giant alien swoops in and kills(?) him. The aliens look similar to the Demagorgon in Stranger Things. Even their heads open similarly. So now you know why they have to be quiet and what's killing people in the first ten minutes. Well that takes the suspense away.

Stranger Things Demagorgon.

A Quiet Place Alien.

Flash forward to "Day 472" Mom is pregnant! Um, that's a little irresponsible bringing a baby into this alien world where you can't make noise. Also, they must have had really quiet sex. Were they trying to replace the child that was taken from them? Are they trying to breed alien fighters for the resistance? I just think it's very poor planning on the parents part. I was really hoping it would be an alien baby that would have made the story more interesting. So now the audience is waiting for her to have her baby... quietly. That's it, go ahead and make more kids you have to protect. Honestly, at this point I lost interest. They deserve whatever happens to them for being bad parents.

In the end they conquer the aliens through sound waves. The daughter's hearing aid is at a frequency that kills the creatures.

The family dynamic is good. Everyone blames themselves for the son/ brother's death. It was interesting to see how the family adapted to being quiet. Living underground, eating off lettuce instead of plates, replacing metal monopoly game pieces with softer things. They have security cameras everywhere watching their grounds and a light system to notify them of trouble. The acting had to be good because for the most part there isn't any dialog. I give this movie two wanna be Demagorgons out of five.

Here's the trailer...

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Baby's Got Back...Flexible Back

So you saw your cat sitting in a corner but he was shaped like a perfect circle, or you saw them sleeping in the most twisted uncomfortable position, or you saw them so stretched out double their size. How is this possible? Because cats are MAGICAL! But seriously, it's because they have the most flexible spine ever! That's why after a long cat nap they get up, stretch, and do what looks like kitty yoga.

Let's go back in time and look at when cats were all wild. Cats have adapted. They are predators and can jump 9 times their height from a sitting position, run almost 30 miles and hour, and they always realign their bodies to land on their feet. They are able to contort to clean all parts of their body too, so they can't be a target for larger predators.

A cat's back and musculature are unlike any other animal. A cat spine has 53 vertebrae with cushioning between the discs allowing them to rotate 180 degrees.(Compare that to people who have 33 vertebrae and can only rotate 90 degrees...on a good day.) When cats run they can triple their stride because their back contracts and releases with each run, giving them great agility. Their shoulders are only attached by flexible muscle as a free floating clavicle, so they can stretch and compress into the smallest of spaces. Don't believe it? Just watch your cat for a day!

Friday, September 7, 2018

Video Rentals & Movie: Winchester (2018)

This past long weekend Andrew and I found ourselves sitting in front of the TV with Netflix looking for a movie to watch. It seems Netflix has a ton of TV shows, and not as many movies. Andrew suggested going to the video store to rent a movie. Weird. I haven't stepped foot in a movie rental shop in 10+ years! We ended up at the only place near our house, Family Video. It was everything I remember but with DVDs and Blu Ray's instead of VHS tapes. Membership was free and they have some rental specials for first timers including everything being half off your first 30 days of membership. Perfect-o, we are ready to try something different.

The best part about renting movies is that some of them have previews that automatically play when you put the DVD in! Yay!

We rented a couple things including Winchester - not not Sam and Dean from Supernatural - but the haunted house movie about the Winchester Mystery House. It's based on a real house in San Jose, CA. It was built by Sarah Winchester, widow of the Winchester Rifle fortune. Her husband died, and her only baby daughter is died, and she was left with this house. It was in 24 hour never ending construction mode until her death in 1922. There is no rhyme or reason to the house, stairways that lead nowhere, windows and doors that lead to mazes. She felt immense guilt for making money off the "gun that won the west" and thought that the people that were killed with a Winchester were haunting her. Deemed the most haunted house in North America, much of the movie was filmed in the actual house, which I hate to say is better than the movie.

***Warning Spoilers Ahead...sort of***

To begin, we are introduced to Dr. Price, a man suffering from the death of this wife and some personal demons, who is hired to access Sarah Winchester to see if she's fit to keep the money from the estate. 

Once at the house he meets Sarah, Marion (Sarah's niece) and her small son Henry. Mary and Henry are suffering from the death of their husband and father respectively. Henry even witnesses his father's death and at one point gets possessed by a strong spirit.

Helen Mirren that plays Sarah is a commanding presence with her shroud, somber look, and real Edwardian lace mourning dress. She explains that "this is the house that spirits built" she can feel them and see them. All the people that were killed by the Winchester rifle have unfinished business with her. They want her to reconstruct the rooms they were killed in. Once the rooms are complete, their spirits get stronger and they make contact with Sarah. She's responsible for so many deaths and shows them her guilt and grief so they can forgive and move on, then the room is torn down. Price doesn't believe her about seeing ghosts at first, then he starts to see dead people since he was shot by a Winchester and died for 3 min. at some point in his past.

The demonic spirit that possessed Henry ends up being set free by Price and we get to see his tragic full back story. All the characters are struggling through tragedy.

Lots of jump scares. It's really a haunted house, but it's no Hill House, a little slow in parts, and so so many many candles. I thought there was going to be a fire in the story. The ending suggests a sequel. Overall, the fashion and house were great, everything else was blah. I give it two hauntings out of five.

You can watch the trailer here...