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The Vine, Anniversary Edition: April 30, 2010

Submitted by on April 30, 2010 – 11:54 AM46 Comments

I did not manage to clear the entire backlog…because y'all's enthusiasm for the anniversary project created an entirely new backlog. Heh. We'll get to them all in time; until then, see what you can do with today's questions. I'll select prizewinners over the weekend. Thanks!


Hi Sars,

I've exhausted the limits of what my brain and Google can do, and I need help! I'm searching for a YA novel, possibly written between the late 1960s-early 1980s about a mysterious young teen girl and her two (?) friends in her new neighborhood. I read it sometime around 1988 in paperback form.

I wish I could remember more of the story arc, but I do remember that the girl had a small cement or concrete owl statue with green eyes (I can't remember if it was hers or if she had taken it from someone). The girl also wore a shark-tooth or alligator-tooth necklace that she had cut her teeth on as a baby. I think her mother was out of the picture, and the girl had moved around a lot with her dad. I also remember a scene where the teens are digging a hole (to hide the owl? to find something else?).

I know it's random and sketchy, but maybe the answer is out there among the TN faithful? Thanks a bunch!



Hi Sars,

I have been trying to remember the titles of a series of children's books, and was hoping for some help from the TN readership. Here is what I know about the books:

  • The main characters were two cousins named Cassie and (I think) Max. They were both orphans who were adopted by their aunt (or great-aunt) Alexandra, who took both children out of school to travel with her. The children studied with a tutor, who had a formal manner and insisted on calling Cassie by her full name.
  • There were at least two books, but probably three, in the series. Each of the books involved the kids traveling somewhere and solving some sort of mystery. One of the plots centered around a werewolf, who could be heard in the woods at night. As I recall, the howls turned out to be the product of Alexandra's friend, who was attempting to keep the wolves near her house safe from hunters.
  • The books were probably published in the late '80s/early '90s, and aimed at middle-junior-high-school kids.
  • The books were not written by Bruce Coville, although they sound similar to some of his work.

I know it's not much information, but this has bugged me for years, and all attempts at Googling have been futile. I would really appreciate it if anyone can help me to identify these books.

AK in Boston


Dear Sars,

My mom has a cat problem. The Vine and The Nation have successfully rehomed cats before, so I'm reaching out to try to help our cat.

Ten years ago, my mom adopted a young cat (not a kitten) from the humane society. She's a smallish Abyssianian mix or something, maybe 6 or 7 pounds. Her name is Stella. She was an only cat in a one-old-dog-and-one-cat household for a long time. She tolerated the occasional feline visitor in the form of my cat.

My mom loves having two cats, so she got a second cat, Zeke, a few years back. Two cats and one old dog was the status quo for a while. Then the dog crossed the rainbow bridge, and my mom, a year later, got a new dog. So the house is at two cats and one dog again.

The problem: Stella would prefer to be a solo pet. She just doesn't like other animals that much. She likes people pretty well. But she acts out quite a lot in my mom's house, and we really believe she would be happier as an only. If no one wants her, we'll keep her. We love her, and we're prepared to keep dealing with her issues. This is not an either-or situation. My mom's been dealing with Stella's behavior issues for some time now, and she's tried just about everything. Bottom line: we're 99% certain she wants to be the apple of someone's eye, not one of two or three apples. But if we can't find the right home for her, she stays in our home.

In the interest of full disclosure, Stella's behavior issues are primarily related to peeing outside the litter box (we have two or three, some covered, some not). She's not destructive or anything else. She whizzes on area rugs, and leather furniture (not carpet or upholstered furniture). She does not have a bladder infection or a UTI (Mom always gets that checked), or any other physical causes for the peeing.

Mom tried Feliway, to reduce Stella's anxiety, but that hasn't worked that well. We've considered Rescue Remedy in the water, or feline anti-depressants, but it really seems like this is a matter of lifestyle. Is it really preferable to medicate Stella for the rest of her life over finding her a good single-pet home? Stella isn't comfortable in a multi-pet family, and we want her to be happy.

Stella is fixed, and she's about 10 years old. She's a very small cat, indoors only, although at our house she goes out on the lanai when it's sunny. She is brownish-grey on top, with a tummy and toes the color of butter. She is missing several teeth (she had gingivitis when we adopted her), but she eats dry food like a champ. She likes sunny spots and fleece blankets. She prefers to sit near you, not on you.

So Sars, I'm asking for your help. Maybe you and the Nation can think of something we haven't that would allow her to stay in our home, or maybe you agree that Stella would prefer a new home. We really wish we could find a good way to keep her in our home, so suggestions are welcome. If anyone out there wants to adopt an older cat, please let us know. Stella currently lives in southwest Florida, but she'd probably go anywhere.

Stella's Family

Dear Fam,

Stella has always had other pets in the house, no? So, what does "for some time now" mean, exactly? How long ago did Stella start pointedly ignoring the box? What happened around that time?

Ask the vet for suggestions on correcting the behavior, or have her recommend another vet who specializes in that kind of thing. Before you speak to either of them, create a detailed timeline — when the peeing started; how often it occurs; what seems to trigger it — and a map of the incidents. Include every piece of information.

What any vet will probably suggest, and I agree, is that Stella have a part of the house, even if it's just one room, where the other pets cannot go. Keep her litter and food in that area, and exclude the other pets from it — and discourage your mother from getting any more pets. If this had been going on for a while, and "Stella wants to be an only cat" was the conclusion early on, getting another dog only aggravated the situation, but the only thing to do about that now is to acknowledge the territorial issues and try to make Stella comfortable.

But rehoming her is, I think, a more dramatic measure than you need. Give Stella her own space — a spare bedroom, the basement, whatever — and let her feel like an only cat for a while…and I mean "a while." Give it a few months to take. But if the problem is that she's marking because she feels insecure about her space, giving her away isn't so much going to solve that.


Dear Sars and brilliant Vine readers,

I would be eternally grateful if you could find a song for me. It's an Italian pop song, and its video was in fairly high rotation on a now-defunct Italian music channel in the winter/spring of 2008. It is sung by two women. I have no idea what their names are, or if they sang as a duo or had a group name. I think that one of the women was blond and the other was brunette.

The video is set mainly on a beach (a rocky/pebbly beach as opposed to a sandy one) and its colors were muted brown/blue/gray rather than sun-drenched (the visual reminded me more of an Irish beach than an Italian one). There were big cliffs. The song is neither a ballad nor very fast (it was in rotation with "Bubbly" by Colbie Caillat, and I think it was similar).

So I don't know the title or the artist, so my Google/YouTube search strings were vague and didn't turn up anything useful. Does anyone know the song? Or know of a website specializing in Italian pop music videos? I am hoping that I will recognize the song when I hear it. Thanks so much for any ideas!


I don't speak Italian, and don't even know what the song is about


Hi Sars,

I'm hoping the awesome TN readers can help me mend some fences with my roommate. A year or so ago, she bought a set of dishes at TJ Maxx. They're not hugely expensive, in fact I think they were originally sold at WalMart, but she really loved them.

Oh, did I say "loved"? Well, if you guessed that I broke one, you'd be half right. In fact, I broke two. On her birthday. (Yeah, ouch.)

I've been looking for a way to replace them, but the pattern is discontinued and I haven't had any luck online. It's called Blue Poppy, by Baum. and Ebay are coming up blank, and all the store links I can find are from 2009 and are sold out.

I'm hoping that the readers' hive-mind might know of a site that I'm not familiar with that can help me track down a set or individual replacements. Googling "Baum" along with the word "poppy" just keeps leading me down the yellow-brick road. Any suggestions would be welcome, and anyone who can find me a retailer or active auction will get a $100 donation to Donors Choose in their name come October. Thanks in advance!

This would be driving me to drink, but I'm afraid I'll break the snifters


I need to switch blog hosts in the next few months, and I'm wondering which one to go with. I'm pretty addicted to the set-up of my current host (which is university-specific, and woo-hoo I'm graduating, but boo-hoo I can't use their awesome online resources anymore) and what I don't want to do is go to the trouble of setting up a blog somewhere and then discover that they don't have the functionality I want.

I know SOME coding, and I would like for the blog to be open-source so I can screw around with colors and fonts and whatnot, but I am not tech-savvy enough to build from the ground up, so I need something that has ready-made themes and templates that I can work around. I would like to be able to create new pages attached to the blog (an "about me" and so on) but I don't need message boards or site-specific emails or anything like that.

I don't care at all about generating a lot of traffic — it's pretty much just my mom and my friends from college reading this thing, and that's cool with me — so preferably no hosts that require ad space on the page. Also, I'm currently avoiding the social networking stuff, so it doesn't need to be compatible with any of that.

Can you (or other amateur bloggers out there) give me some pros and cons of the various systems?

By the way, the winning blog host will ideally be FREE

Dear Free,

Browse around and and see what you find. I've used the free version (hosted by WP), the free templates with a host (Bluehost, which is a reasonably good service), and paid/customized templates with a host (the current version of TN), and the main thing to recommend WP is how customizable it is. Also, their community BB is very helpful for bug fixes no matter which level of template or hosting you decide to go with.



Okay Sars,

I hadn't bothered with this one, because I'm pretty sure I will never find it. But then, I didn't think anyone was going to find that primitive Thinker statue either, so what the hell. I am looking for this.

It is a stained-glass reproduction of the Seven Ages of Man window in the Folger Shakespeare Library. I saw it in a store years ago, and loved it, but didn't have the money to purchase it at the time. It appears it is no longer made. eBay has turned up nothing on multiple occasions. Google-fu turns up a lot of places that used to have it, but don't anymore.

I've near given up hope, but Ask the Readers has a most impressive success rate, so let's see what happens.

Why Yes, I Was An English Major, Why Do You Ask?

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  • Lisa says:

    The first question — owl with glass eyes book — has been answered on Loganberry books, but I can't for the life of me find it now.

  • TashiAnn says:

    For the English major – did you call the Folger and ask them if they sold reproductions? Maybe they have a stash of them they would be willing to sell you.

  • Lisa says:

    Oooh, Ooooh, I found it! It might be "The Ghost Next Door," by Wylly Folk St. John.

  • Nina A says:

    @CJ I'm pretty sure that the book is by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. I read this too. I beilieve it's either The Headless Cupid or The Witches of Worm. Hope this helps.

  • Karen says:

    I second Zilpha Keatly Snyder for the first letter. The Egypt Game sprung to mind first, but I think Nina A is right–it's likely The Headless Cupid.

  • Karen says:

    @CJ I read that one – I still occasionally think about the owl!

    A couple more clues if it helps: I read it as a kid, so it was published by the mid-70s. The owl was made by pouring the concrete/cement into a plastic bag and smooshing it into shape, the eyes were marbles. The original owl (?) belonged to the grandmother, I think. I only remember one friend, who was a boy, and there was a falling out over the owl about half-way through the book that had something to do with the digging. Wow, flashback.

  • Karen says:

    …and never mind, someone found it while I was typing! It's definitely The Ghost Next Door, and I was totally wrong about the boy.

  • Marnie says:

    Stella's Family-
    My cat also had some issues with peeing outside the box (he went for the bed every time), and this combined with other anxiety issues he was having led us to put him on Prozac. Yes, human Prozac. And the difference in his behavior is like night and day. I understand your reluctance to medicate, but for us, having a happy cat who takes a quarter of a pill every other day has been worth it a thousand times.

  • Stella's Family says:

    Sars, thanks for the post! In response to your questions:

    1, Stella has ALWAYS been in a multi-pet household.

    2, We think Stella began marking about 3 years ago, not sure exactly. At that point we had Stella, Zeke (our boy cat) and Sis (our elderly dog). At some point around that time, my mom took an old leather chair that Stella had peed on (possibly as a result of a UTI or bladder infection), and replaced it with two new leather chairs. Stella has repeatedly marked those chairs and now a leather couch. Maybe the leather is a trigger? (Always heard leather was better with pets, wipe the fur off). Obviously once she's peed on something once, no matter the amount of nature's miracle involved, she can still smell it and pees again. She does use her litter box, she just also uses the furniture.

    It's hard to be sure exactly what the trigger is, since Mom isn't home during the day. We do know that she has a lot of anxiety when the neighborhood feral cat club hangs out around our house, but that's not every day.

    We like the idea of a dedicated Stella room, can someone give ideas on how to keep the other animals out? Stella already has her own litter box (uncovered, while Zeke uses the covered one), and we close her in the laundry room to eat so that Zeke doesn't run over and gobble all her food when he's done with his. So now we could consolidate food and litter box into a room (small house, no basement, so it will be a bedroom).

    Thanks for the help! We want to keep Stella in our family, we just weren't sure what to do.

  • Katie says:

    @AK- is it the Mostly Monsters series by Mary Anderson?

  • Aspartame says:

    Is it this set? It can be hard to find single replacements for sets that aren't Fancy, but at least this is an option with lots of room for future errors!

  • Andrea says:

    @ CJ – it definitely sounds like a Zilpha Keatley Snyder. Could it be the Egypt Game? There's a digging scene, and the main character's mother sends her to live with her grandmother. I think there's also a stuffed… something. It could be an owl, but I can't find my copy to check it.

  • Aspartame says:

    Ack, nevermind, the Buy option is a lie!

  • Kelsey says:


    I was also thinking Zilpha Keatley Snyder, but I think it might be 'The Egypt Game'.

  • Jane says:

    I was going to suggest Zilpha Keatly Snyder's The Egypt Game, so Nina and I are clearly thinking along the same lines.

  • rayvyn2k says:


    Sars' advice is excellent.

    We had a similar situation in our cat family–we have three cats, two 5 year olds and one 12 year old. The youngsters started ganging up on the old girl, so we moved her into our bedroom. Her litter pan and food/water dishes are in our bathroom. Everyone is happy and no one marks their space anymore.

    And we have discovered that the "isolation" does not have to be an all the time thing anymore. When we are home, we leave the bedroom door open and Kira comes downstairs to visit. But we always make sure she's secure in "her" room when we're at work or when we're asleep.

  • Jen S says:

    YES, The Ghost Next Door! The owl with glass eyes totally rang a bell, but I was too late. Oh, well!

  • Ami says:

    English Major: If all else fails, you could commission something from a stained glass artist. That would probably be quite pricey and would take a while, and you'd have to stick with a detail of one of the seven panels, but it would be Actual Stained Glass and a piece of art in its own right.

    I know that in my area the stained glass supply stores double as stained glass studios; you could check the phone book for a similar outfit that could give you a quote. Alternatively, keep an eye out for glass artists at artisan fairs and such; approximating one of the images at looks like it would be a really interesting challenge. You'd have to forego most of the painted detail in order to keep it affordable, probably. Hmmm.

  • Dina says:

    CJ, would it be a Christopher Pike or RL Stine book? Your description is eerily familiar, poking at the back parts of my brain that were recently accessed when I spotted a friend's copy of Weekend, so perhaps browsing any databases/wikis for those two would get you somewhere. If my workday slows down at all, I'll do a bit of searching and report back.

  • Amalthea says:

    CJ and Nina A, it's not The Witches of Worm (I've read that a bazillion times) so I'd try The Headless Cupid.

  • Clairezilla says:

    Whoa!! I'm CJ, and it's totally "The Ghost Next Door!"

    You guys are amazing, as soon as I saw the Amazon link and the Loganberry link, I squealed! And from all the recs on "The Egypt Game" I'm going to have to read that now, too. Sounds like it's right up my alley.

    TN is the best!!

  • Deb says:

    Stella's Fam: My cat was once an only, and then wasn't, and was going-for quite a while-outside the litter box. The vet gave her valium, or whatever the liquid form of valium is (much easier to get into a cat than a pill) and I set up another litterbox/food area in my room. For a while, she was the only cat allowed in there; since she had everything she needed in there, I felt comfortable shutting the door (clearly, this was in line with Sars' suggestion). After a while, she stopped going outside the litterbox, mostly (she still sometimes marks right outside it, but it is still such a vast improvement), and the door to my room is open again (not that she still doesn't have some aggression toward the other cats). I gather the valium helps retrain them to use the litterbox, so even if she does need medication, it might not be a permanent thing. The other thing I'd suggest: even with another litterbox (and from here, I learned you need 1 for every cat, plus 1 extra-that makes 5 for us), you need to clean very carefully, probably daily, at least for the time that it takes to modify the cat's behavior. Things pretty much still stink a little sometimes here, particularly in the heat, but I haven't completely given up on getting the smell out and I'm happy to have my cat feeling better as I'm sure you would be too. It is a health thing, even if it isn't physical health. Oh, and there are pet behaviorists too, so you might want to check with your vet about that. That was going to be our next step.

  • Sarah says:

    @Lisa: Yes! And big thanks to CJ for asking about this and Lisa for answering. I was actually going to ask the Vine readers about this book myself because I loved it and I'd been struggling to remember what it was called. Now my question is answered with no effort from me and I can read that awesome book again. Yay!

  • sherrylynn says:

    @ Snifters: Have you tried Tabletops, Etc? I don't remember the website but you can Google it. I signed up for the service for our out-of-production-for-10-years-set after I broke a cup last year. The service sends you an email when pieces become available. Within a month, iw as able to buy a new matchign cup. It costs a bit but I wanted the full set again. What you want might not be out there right now, but you never know when someone wants to sell some dishes. Good luck!

  • Kari says:

    Dishes: On the site, they have the option "find this for me" or something like that, where you can request pieces of a certain dish pattern. So, if you can't find it elsewhere, that's an option.

  • Jen S says:

    CJ, I recommend both The Eygpt Game and The Headless Cupid! The latter has one of the earliest goth girls in YA lit (but they don't call her Goth, she's just an oddly dressed girl who's really into magic)and both are exceptionally written and very atmospheric and spooky.

  • Genibee says:

    The Italian pop song sounds like it would be by the female duo Paola e Chiara. They've got a bunch of hits, so you may have to trawl through Youtube to find out which one was your song, but I bet it was "Cambiare Pagina, off their album Win the Game. Paola e Chiara are one of my favorite guilty pop pleasures, along with other Italian groups like Lunapop, 883, and Nek.

  • The non-Italian says:

    @Genibee – Thank you so, so, so much! That is exactly the song I was looking for. I am eternally grateful!

  • Genibee says:

    Yay! I first discovered them on a study abroad trip to Italy in 2000, where their song "Vamos a Bailar" turned into one of our trip songs (along with, uh, "Sex Bomb" by Tom Jones, "Laura non c'e" by Nek and the entire aforementioned Lunapop album.)

  • Sharon says:

    @Fam: I have a cat who I'm pretty sure would LOVE to be the only one who also pees outside the litter box. Unlike yours, though, she pees right in front; it's clear she wants to use the box but can't bring herself to, I guess, compete with the other cats' leavings. It took me years to figure out a workable solution but we now put a boot tray with newspaper on top in front of our boxes and she happily goes there. Worth a try, even though Stella pees elsewhere?

  • Leia says:

    @Stella: It sounds like litter box retraining and super cleaning might be in order. By now, it may "simply" be a habit to pee outside the box. Or smell like she should mark it again.

    As others have suggested, the one room/small space thing is supposed to help with retraining. The easiest thing is, of course, to simply shut the door when Mom's not there to watch. The question is, are any of the other pets likely to dig the carpet or the door? They might not care if no one's not home. If Stella's not a big jumper (being a slightly older kitty), you can get fairly tall kid/pet gates. If it won't be a pee magnet, you could get a plastic mat to put under the door to protect the floor.

    Then for the pee spots. You could try a vineagar cleaning. I have bunnies and when they have oops outside the box, I clean it with a 50/50 white vineagar/water mix. I just have a spray bottle. Its supposed to do a good job of neutralizing the odor so they don't think that's good spot to go again (although in their case, its often because they had their bunny buns hanging over the edge instead of inside…too busy browsing the hay rack, I guess). Maybe give the couches a spritz and scrub with a vinegar mix**.

    **Obligated to suggest testing on small part of couch. I googled, which I'm sure you've done, and 1 part vineagar and 2 parts linseed oil seems to be a popular make-your-own suggestion for leather cleaning.

  • AK says:

    @Katie-Yes, that is the series! Thank you so much-not being able to remember the author/titles has bugged me for years.

  • Aspartame says:

    Bah, my google fu has totally failed me with the dishes. You might have more luck looking for "Home Trends Poppy," which was what Walmart called it. It seems like it was only called "Blue Poppy" by resalers not affiliated with Walmart. If you really want to go hardcore on this, you could start calling Walmart because there surely must be a set sitting in a stockroom somewhere.

  • Poppy says:

    @Aspartame – Yes, that's the set I'm looking for. But as you noticed, unfortunately it's no longer available on that site.

    @Kari – I hadn't realized that has the "find it for me" option; I will definitely check that out.

  • Susan says:

    @ Fam: I've had a cat on off-label Prozac for dogs (Reconcile) for about three years now. He gets "flare-ups" of what we refer to as his "ding-dong" problem. After seven years of worrying, special (EXPENSIVE) diets, different fountains (he likes the pink one the best) and many many vet trips, our 2nd to last resort was Prozac. Turns out most of his problem is in his head. He gets 1/4 pill every four days, and he's had two flare ups in 3 years, during which he got 1/4 every other day. The flareups last about 6 or 7 days. He squats all over the house, but mostly just stands like he's peeing and nothing comes out. Sometimes it's little amounts. I had plenty of reservations about it, but was pleasantly surprised. The first few weeks on the drugs were hard though. He was a zombie until I found the right balance between doses.
    Good luck with Stella, I hope you can figure something out.

  • Adrienne says:

    Stella's person: buy a cat condo (one of these: and put a litter box and her own food in it and make it HER space. I know, I hear you all out there in internet land screaming "YOU PUT YOUR CAT IN A CAGE??? FOR SHAME!" but one of those saved our sanity and, frankly, one angry peeing cat's life. Shortly after I spent $3k nursing our old dude Oliver through fatty liver disease, he peed on my bed, my sofa, a futon, and various places on the carpet. This WENT ON for six months while we checked for UTI's, identified stressors, changed litters, boxes, locations, etc. We bought the condo and put Oliver in it when we weren't home and now that is Oliver's favorite place in the house, to the point where he will stand next to it and ask to be let in when he gets tired of our other cats (we have two others, neither of whom have had this problem.)

    I think it comes down to the cat needing a place where he/she feels safe and can't be harassed by the other pets. The nice thing about the condo is that it's A. not an entire room you have to set aside, and B. kitty is still around and part of the family when she needs a little "me" time. Put it somewhere quiet and out of the way, preferably with a window to look out of.

  • Bev says:

    about Blue Poppy
    eBay has a section called BROWSE- WANT IT NOW

    where you actually tell people on ebay what you are looking for and can't find. It doesn't cost anything, and sounds like it is worth a try.

  • Cyntada says:

    @Stella's Fam, if your mom's housing situation allows, could you consider adding a window "patio" to Stella's room? Since she likes the lanai, having a chance to go outside in a cat run or enclosed shelf might convince her that the prison is a palace, if you know what I mean. Best of luck in any case! She sounds like a real sweety.

    @Free, I've been impressed with They offer WordPress and several other blogging platforms for no extra charge. I run two ecommerce sites and have had some incredibly bad hosting before them. So far their service has been solid and the support guys very helpful via the ticket system. It's not free, but $15/month has been entirely worth it to me, compared to the nightmare that is cheaper/free hosting.

    Your needs are modest, so you might do well with free. I have no recs there, but surely others will.

    I've no affiliation with at all, except as a happy customer.

  • Ash says:

    @Stella: Nothing to add in terms of cat advice all the lovely TN-ers here have written. BUT wanted to point you in the way of miracle cleaning product: Urine Off. Just to make all your lives a bit easier while Stella goes through her adjustments.

    I don't recommend this product lightly. I've tried everything and I mean everything due to my cats getting cystitis when anxious. So, yep, very familiar with having to get cat pee out of all sorts of places. Years of experienting-I've tried natural remedies, home cleaning remedies, professional carpet cleaning products (which make things worse in my opinion) and Urine Off is the only thing that completely removes any trace/scent. Only discovered it the past year and it's been a godsend.

    There are variations of this product (Cat-Off, Piss-Off etc)but in my opinion, this is the ONLY dang thing that works. I have heard good things about Anti-Icky Poo as well but as I am in Australia, can't get a hold of it. Good luck. Hope you come back to tell us how Stella fares :)

  • Belinda Gomez says:

    With Baum tableware, I think your should find a way to make it up to your room-mate, but impress upon her that finding two plates (did you try Etsy in vintage) from a discounted pattern sold at TJ MAxx is highly unlikely. It's not antique Royal Crown Derby, it's made in China pottery. Dishes get broken. Maybe you can spring for another 6 dinner plates that will co-ordinate—much chicer anyway.

  • Heidi says:

    Stella's Family — Kitties are SUPER SENSITIVE to any smell changes, so another consideration is whether your mom at any point started cleaning with something noxious or changed the cat litter to something grainier/perfumed/what have you.

    Avoid highly toxic chemicals around the areas where pets feed and use the facilities, and in general, if you can. Remember they're walking on the floor without shoes and then licking their feet and inhaling everything at a six-inch level from the floor. Vinegar and water or steam cleaners are awesome and non-toxic.

    I use Cat's Pride Natural (unscented) cat litter and its various store-brand equivalents (and had to tell a store clerk to SHUT IT because she made a snark that I was being cheap until I explained the health ramifications). So, it could also be an issue where Stella doesn't like the smell of the box. Or, it's too high/too low for her to use properly, or is in an area that's highly trafficked. Just some thoughts there.

    Agree whole heartedly with give her a place of her own. She may feel overrun with the other animals and want some me(ow)-time without the others all up in her business. If she has a place where she can get away from them and eat and potty in peace, she may go back to the box. Just keep food and litterbox in separate corners for no comingling of kibble and litter.

    Catnip is also a great mellow-out tool — sprinkle it in whatever new area that you christen is a Stella-only zone and that'll help seal the deal. Good luck to you. And thank you for not just dumping her outright, and instead treating her like a family member with some slightly eccentric *issues*.

    Sars — Thank you, too, for suggesting ways to keep the kitty.

  • Stanley says:

    Here is one reason the Nation is awesome: The Headless Cupid is actually one of my own Lost Books, but I couldn't even conjure up enough details to Google it or ask TN about it. I knew the FEEL of the book, but literally not even one detail. Like, there was…a house? And…some kids? Maybe? But as soon as I saw the title, YAY! Question answered without being asked.

    I have nothing helpful to add on any of this Vine's questions, except that I am also in the market for a particular, hard-to-find china pattern and I just set the eBay search to send me an email every day with anything new that's listed. Hasn't been successful so far, but that's what you get when you buy an incomplete set of china that was made in 1939.

  • Margaret in CO says:

    Why Yes, this site has one for sale but you have to be a member to see the price:

    I found another site that would make you one out of actual bits of colored glass but that was well over $6000.

  • H., says:

    Stella's Family: one of our cats is semi-feral and has always been a tiny bit "high strung". A few years ago she went through a very annoying stage of inappropriate peeing/pooping. Mostly on the bed. I was constantly doing laundry, as she could pee through 2 sleeping bags and a comforter. ANYWAY, Anti-Icky-Poo (gotta love the name) actually works as a cleaner, but what cured her was hypoallergenic cat food (which is fairly expensive, and is prescription-only; totally different than the fancy lamb and rice type foods). Our vet didn't do any allergy testing, but she said that inappropriate elimations were often caused by food allergies (yeah, I don't see the connection either), and we just put her on the food as an experiment, and… no inappropriate eliminations since. Not when her companion cat died, not when we got a new cat, not when we got a new dog, not when we moved… If this turns out to be your solution, just be forewarned: the way they make hypoallergenic kibble attractive to cats is by injecting chicken fat into the kibble, so it is NOT a diet food. Our girl (already plump to begin with) has gained so much weight she gets stuck under furniture. (We'll deal with that issue next).

  • Linda says:

    On roommates and dishes: I don't mean to be a jerk, but … one of the good things about having inexpensive everyday dishes is that you don't have to flip your lid if they break. I understand she loved them, but the world contains lots of dishes in pretty patterns. Unless you broke them in a fit of pique, you really have nothing to feel all that bad about anyway, as accidents do happen and you've done your best to make it right.

    If you're still feeling bad, I would find some other little peace offering for her, include a note saying, "I just want you to know I do feel so bad about the broken dishes, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to locate exact replacements," give it to her, and move on. As someone commented, it's cooler to have a mix of dishes anyway, as opposed to every one of your dishes matching every other one, so she would do fine with some coordinating solids if she really feels like she needs more plates. But dishes you use every day are not the kind of thing you can expect to own for the rest of your life without any of them breaking. I'm sure she'll get over it.

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