March 29, 2010

"Ella and Friend"

Oil on museum quality ampersand gessobord panel 6" x 8"

A normal nightly ritual at the Adams' household before lights out is usually a game of "stick" with our four resident felines. Stick is played by sweeping and wiggling a felt mouse with 5 leather tails attached to a stick enticingly back and forth for their (and my) amusement. Shirley and Ella insist on it, Sammy pretends not to care and hides under the bed until a hidden paw lurches out to get in the game. JJ would like to play but is over-matched by his younger cohorts and usually sits on the sidelines and watches. Two nights ago no one showed up for the game and curious, we went to find out why. What could be more important than "stick?" Well, I'll tell you. How about a real live mouse? All the players, even JJ, had cornered a mouse in the studio and were standing guard. He had taken refuge under the bookcase and they had no intention of letting him saunter off. Normally our bed looks like NFL tonight with a pile of cats and us vying for a comfortable spot. Once settled in, trying to extricate oneself in the middle of the night can be a challenge. Even more so is working yourself back in once they have spread out. Even with a king-sized bed, they take up a lot of real estate. Sometime late that night Sam and JJ crept back to bed, leaving Ella to continue the vigil. By lunchtime all but Shirley were back at it. By this time the poor mouse had become resigned to his fate and would scoot across the studio floor pursued by his tormentors who, too, were exhausted from their all night antics. At one point I think the little guy figured out that if he didn't run, they wouldn't chase him and he actually almost curled up with Ella, who was so tired she could barely keep her eyes open. I grabbed my camera and snapped off a few shots of this tender scene, got a box to put over the mouse who was no worse for the wear and let him outside - much to the kids chagrin and all was back to normal the next night. This scene with Ella and her new friend reminded me of the saddest Christmas carol I have ever heard, which always makes me well-up when I hear it. It's called "The Cat Carol" by Bruce Evans.

The cat wanted in to the warm warm house,
but no one would let the cat in
It was cold outside on Christmas Eve,
She meowed and meowed by the door.

The cat was not let in the warm warm house,
And her tiny cries were ignored.
'twas a blizzard now, the worst of the year,
There was no place for her to hide.

Just then a poor little mouse crept by,
He had lost his way in the snow.
He was on his last legs and was almost froze,
The cat lifted him with her paw.

She said "Poor mouse do not be afraid,
because this is Christmas Eve.
"On this freezing night we both need a friend,
"I won’t hurt you - stay by my side."

She dug a small hole in an icy drift,
This is where they would spent the night.
She curled herself 'round her helpless friend,
Protecting him from the cold.


When Santa came by near the end of the night,
the reindeer started to cry.
They found the cat lying there in the snow,
and they could see that she had died.

They lifted her up from the frozen ground,
and placed her into the sleigh.
It was then they saw the little mouse wrapped up,
she had kept him warm in her fur.

"Oh thank you Santa for finding us!
"Dear cat wake up we are saved!"
..."I’m sorry mouse but your friend has died,
there’s nothing more we can do.

"On Christmas Eve she gave you her life,
the greatest gift of them all."
Santa lifted her up into the night sky,
and laid her to rest among the stars.

"Dear mouse don’t cry you are not alone,
you will see your friend every year.
"Each Christmas a Cat Constellation will shine,
to remind us that her love’s still here."



Kaylyn said...

The Lion and the Mouse....

Sheila said...

What a wonderful story, a very sad and touching poem and an AMAZING painting. I don't know how you do such detailed beautiful work on an 6x8! You must have a barrel full of 0, 00 and 000 brushes!

Mark Adams said...

...Maybe Ella had a thorn in her paw.

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Sheila. Believe it or not, I don't have any 0, 00 or 000 brushes. I use the point of a lining brush for the tight lines, a few 1/8" soft filberts and some 3/8" worn out faux sables. The opti-visor is a big help.

Diane said...

loved, laughed and wept at both the painting and story... author/illustrator should be on your CV
love from London

Mark Adams said...

Thanks, Di. Hope you're having a good time across the big pond.

Deb O said...

Made me cry!

Love, Deb

Mark Adams said...

If you think reading the lyrics made you cry, google the song and try listening to it without weeping. Bet you can't.

Dean Grey said...


Who needs mousetraps when you got cats!

Fantastic painting BTW!


Mark Adams said...

At least young cats. I have had some pretty jaded older cats that would just look up at me with one eye opened when a mouse walked by as if to say "You don't really expect me to leave my warm spot on the couch to chase that do you?"

Thanks, Dean

Margaret Bednar said...

Your blog is a hoot! Very nice paintings and quite entertaining. My daughters cat passed away a few years back and one day as she was cleaning her room, she spied the old toy mouse under her bed. She reached under the bed and grabbed the fuzzy toy and boy did she scream when it squirmed and wiggled in her hand. The next week we had two new kittens! Again, thank you for your interesting blog!

Mark Adams said...

Great story, Margaret. I hope the new kitties are earning their stripes.