A friend saw a fleeting glimpse of one of my paintings as it faded away in a slide show on another website. Thinking it was new, he said was anxious to see the painting soon.  His inquiry made me smile, remembering what pleasure it gave me to paint it several years ago as a gift for my step-granddaughter, Amanda, in Florida. My friend will likely never see that painting, so I emailed him with details about it and attached an image, and I’m sharing it with you today.

“Amanda Takes a Cat Nap” is filled with many things "Amanda." She often napped on the sectional couch upholstered with peach brocade.  She would pull an afghan her now deceased grandmother crocheted over herself, covering all but her feet and the messy, but charming top-of-the-head ponytail poking out of a pink scrunchy. Pink was Amanda’s favorite color at that time - pink flip flops, pink nail polish, a pink scrunchy, and a pink cell phone.

Amanda is the consummate lover of animals – all animals. I admit that I can’t bring myself to share her fondness for tarantellas, or salamanders. I once saw her cry when a tadpole in her terrarium gave it up. I did appreciate the rabbits Amanda kept in a hutch at the side of the house. The list of family pets has, of course, changed due to natural attrition. But Amanda’s parents have been generous, allowing her to have one (sometimes two?) dogs and multiple housecats as part of the menagerie. The backgrounds of the various cats has always amused me.

Since this family has a long working connection with Disney World, many of their pets have Disney character names. Baghera, named after the black panther in Lion King, was the only black kitten in a litter that would simply have added too many cats to the household, so the family was finding homes for kittens near Halloween. They decided to keep the black one for fear someone would take him only as a Halloween prop and that he would come to a bad end once Halloween was over.

As an adult Baghera is the silkiest cat I've ever petted. He seems to have a fetish that amuses us. Near bedtime he feigns being aloof while he actually stakes out the joint, watching and waiting for my daughter-in-law Debbie to pull the scrunchy out of her hair and toss it on the coffee table. Baghera doesn't give himself away though. He waits until everyone has gone to bed and the lights are out before he nabs that scrunchy and audibly races all over the house, tossing the scrunchy here and there, rubbing his face on it, lying on his back smooching it. Yes, we've spied on him. He is in LOVE with anything scrunchy, and meows and purrs to it suggestively in private. Imagining what he is really saying to this scrunchy has given us a lot of laughs.

Then there are Otter and Potter. Disney there. They family allowed then little Mark E to name these cats purported to be twins. I myself have wondered how they can deduce that two cats in a litter are twins, but yes, they looked remarkably alike except that one cat had a most unusual feature - crossed eyes!

And regal Arthur was named after the Disney character King Arthur. This cat was very large.. When Mark E was born they laid him on the floor in his blanket and Arthur stretched out beside him for a nap. The pictures of this show that Arthur was appreciably bigger than the baby! Uh- maybe we should pick up the baby? Arthur could have ripped other household pets to shreds. Of course he never did any such thing, but his size made him impressive.

Equally impressive in size is the family parrot that measures 36" from the top of his crest to the end of his tail. He lives in a floor cage and I have no doubt if he were to bite a finger he would do serious injury. He converts a wood spoon to slivers in under 5 minutes for entertainment! So it was most amusing to me to find that Merlin (yes, the Disney Magician) learned to shout “Aaaaaarthur......AAAARTHUR!" in a threatening voice. Followed by a quiet "Heeeer kitty kitty kitty......" that was even more menacing.  Arthur is no longer with us, but Merlin still calls him.

There was also Anna, a smallish calico cat that had many litters of kittens. Dear Anna was such a love that we were all angered and saddened when it seemed that someone had abused her in some way. Amanda suspected kids on the way home from school had grabbed her by the tail and swing her around a few dozen times. Anna was injured badly, and could never hold her tail up again. Happily, other than that, she seemed to recover well and lived a very long cat life.

All of these cats and Amanda's white poodle Boo are in the painting with her. But when Amanda moved to her own space several years ago, she left her painting in her mom's house, knowing  how much her mom Debbie, who clearly loves the painting as much as Amanda does.  Debbie is a very giving person, never thinking of herself. She seldom gives me any idea of what she might like as a Christmas gift. But this year she told me her fondest desire was to have a reproduction of "Amanda Takes a Cat Nap." That it means that much to her pleased me, and she got her wish..

For those of you who ask me where I get the ideas for my paintings? This is but one example.