Center Fold

May 21, 2016 in Conference, Events, Manuscript Studies, Photographic Exhibition

The CopyCat Editor Lying Down On The Job. Photography © Mildred Budny, reproduced by permission.CopyCat Editor

Our Editor in Chief, also our Principal Blogger (see Her Page), gives credit to an expert adviser, who shows paws-on attention, even while lying down on the job.
P.S. That’s some of our text that she’s working on.  You could view and download its completed version below.

Published on 21 May 2016 (with a couple of updates in April 2017).

We pause (paws) for an exclusive interview with our CopyCat Editor In Residence.  She gives expert advice and encouragement for the preparations of our Events.

Recently, we have begun to gather interviews with experts who help — pro bono, of course — with our activities, events, publications, and other productions.  (Starting here.)  A series of interviews with our Graphic & Layout Designer is in the course of preparation.  (He is shy, and works at many tasks, so it takes time to find the right time.  Update:  Now here.)

That our blog on Manuscript Studies may allow for some light-hearted views can be seen already, for example, in the installment on Manuscript Groupies.

Wonderful to learn about the people behind the scenes.  Critters too.

Cats first.  Cats as Cats Can.  And Will.

The CopyCat Editor Lying Down On The Job. Photography © Mildred Budny, reproduced by permission.



Hear Here

So excited!  We have an exclusive interview with our Copy-Cat-in-Residence.

With permission, now we can show you how beautiful she is, with such a magnificent, wholly ecologically-sound Fur Coat and Gleaming Eyes.  A Look with Intent.

Here we go.  Take a deep breath:  Lights!  Camera!  InAction!

“Hello, Mistie.  Thank you for granting this interview for your fans, old and new, fur and near.”
(That’s no typo, in case you were wondering.  We are capable of Typos, but usually we mean what they say.  You could call them Typical.  Or maybe Typocal.  Where they concern Mistie, perhaps they are Typicat. #notatypo.)

Paws to Explain

Mistie hides behind the computer. Photograhy © Mildred Budny

Tail Piece

It is worth saying that Mistie remains in Residence, no matter where we might be.  She maintains her own domain, with her appointed Guardians.  (Servants, well, that would be, Slaves, even, so long as we’re talking Cat.)

I have visited her there over the years, when visiting her Guardians, for various purposes.  For example:  A party for colleagues, A chance to appear in the Audience for a Drum Concert (Speciality of the House), Occasions at tea to examine images of manuscripts and compare notes about them, a Tour of the household to establish points of reference for taking over the guardianship for a fortnight or so while the Guardians are away — those sorts of things.

Always, if Mistie appeared, it has been on all fours, tail furled, and meows open.  A privileged sight.  That was Then.  This is Now, and How.  Still privileged, but with more knowledge a-furrthought.

A Cat-alogue

Some of the subjects for discussion at those teas you already know about from our blogs.

  1. Manuscript Studies blog, reporting discoveries about different medieval and other materials
  2. ICMS (International Congress on Medieval Studies at Kalamazoo, Michigan), or Kalamazoo blog
  3. Events blog, about our events anywhere else, ranging from seminars to symposia, refreshments included

Suffice it to say that Mistie, while remaining reclusive at home, already has knowledge about our events.

Her vocal comments during those meetings which planned them are memorable, and appreciated.  If only we know how to translate them, we’d let you know what she thinks of them.  Perhaps the main thing is that these visits to not fail to give her attention.

Say Mistie For Me

Poster 1 for the 2016 'Words & Deeds' Symposium at Princeton University, with 4 images from the Otto Ege Collection, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Photography by Lisa Fagin Davis. Reproduced by permission. Poster set in RGME BembinoPoster 2 for the 2016 'Words & Deeds' Symposium at Princeton University, with 2 images from the Otto Ege Collection, The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Photography by Lisa Fagin Davis. Reproduced by permission. Poster set in RGME BembinoThis Spring there began a new phase in our acquaintance with Mistie and her habits.  While preparing one of our Events — a big one, at that — held at Princeton University in March 2016, I came regularly to Mistie’s Lair.

The mission was to feed her, keep her company, and in general do her bidding, while I sat at work (or jumped to attention) on the texts and emails in the preparations for the event.  It was this one: 2016 Symposium on ‘Words & Deeds’.

The image above of the Poster Girl at work(?) shows Mistie sprawled across a draft of the Program Booklet. The finished product is available as a download here. In case you were wondering if we remembered the overarching theme of our blog.


Mistie reconsiders. Photography © Mildred Budny


Pretty soon, we worked out a routine.  After all, I have years of close contact with caring for cats, and their Cat-i-tudes are familiar.  Although, of course, each cat may cultivate and purrfect his or her own special set of Cattitudes.

So, I was prepared to observe Mistie on her own terms, and to see how we shaped our own dialogue as a working, playing unit.  Feeding duties included, of course, and the petting routines as permitted.

I’d already been shown the lay of the land, the location of the cat food supplies, her special dishes, and — I kid you not — her own drinking glass.  Really.  The All-Grown-Up version, no less.  Liter size, just the size (now we know) for a cat with a developed sense of Latitude and Longitude, especially the Standing-Up-While-Lapping kind of stance.  Lapitude, perhaps, that’s what to call it.

On Course

Day 1 of the visits to Mistie-in-Residence.  Upon entering, as always my style for greeting cats at whatever home, I called out to her to announce arrival.  It takes some care to choose which form of greeting.

For some cats, I use meows, in various flavors.  For others, it may be:

  • ‘Pusskins!’ (for my dear, beloved, sorely missed Pusskins 1 and 2, the numbers to be determined according to point of arrival; they knew, bless ’em’, that it meant that Food-Is-Soon-On-The-Way, a superlative greeting for Cats of whatever Purrsuasian)
  • ‘Kittens!’ (for a sister pair, black and grey respectively, whom I baby-sit on occasion for some vacationing friends; this is known as the Alternate Universe; they come running, present their chins and bellies for scratching, then rush to the food dishes, leading the way)
  • ‘Hello, Darling!’ (for Mistie, as a preamble for the Meows in rapid sequence)

Usually, for other cats as yet unknown, it is a friendly, exploratory ‘Meow!’.  Usually repeated.  Until we figure out what sort of greeting is the right one.

I am willing to learn, which perhaps helps to explain why the quest succeeds.  Ah, yes, did I mention patience and a wish to learn?

That’s a useful approach to research of many kinds, if you ask me.  Manuscripts, Cats, Documents, Cats, Printed Materials, Cats, Seals, Cats, Seal Matrices, Cats, Epigraphy, Etc.  You get the Picture.  Evidence, Evidence, Evidence, Evidently.  Cats Included.


Cats probably think that I have a terrible accent when it comes to Cat, Cat-Speak, Cat-A-Lan, and the various varieties/dialects/creoles/pidgeons [Yum!] in which Cats Speak Their Minds.  But, I figure (anyway, hope) that they might give a little credit that they can see that I try to respect their languages.  Tongue in Cheek included.

My own newish cats (born in a cage in a shelter, given to me for adoption when about 8 months old, and now happily settled over several years into the routine at my residence, where they have pretty much the Rule Of The Roost — any and all desk space as wished included — have Siamese within their genes, configurations, and high-climbing habits.  Accordingly, they talk to me a lot.

At first it annoyed.  The high, screeching sounds seemed perpetually (not purrpetually) querulous.  Now I know better.

They talk to me a lot, as is their wont.  And their want.  It took only a bit of guesswork, with some trial and little error, to discover that when they call to me at a distance, when out of sight, they gauge the location of my position by my repeated responses (Meow-Meow, Meow-Meow), and their series of repeated calls (Meeeeow, Meeeeeeeeow), sort of like Ping-Backs, with increasingly lesser distances, to demonstrate that they are homing in on the destination.

I used this expert knowledge to choose the mode of address, announcing arrival, for Mistie.


Mistie looks forward, standing attentive beside the computer at work. Photograhy © Mildred Budny

Take Over

That these calls aiming to locate my presence mainly serve to establish the position of the Food Factory (Guess Who) or, when the calls come from the branches of a tall tree, to elicit effusive praise and admiration for the display of brave gymnastic skills — that should come as little or no surprise to Cat Fanciers.

You know the old truth:

     Dogs have Masters (no offense to Dogs!).
Cats have Slaves (no offense to Cat Lovers!)

So it may have been since the world began.  When Adam got around to naming the animals (no disrespect intended), it is possible that Cats told him, with emphatic lifting of Whiskers, ‘Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You.’


Mistie at the Top of the Stairs. Photograhy © Mildred Budny

Upwardly Mobile

Mistie’s methods are somewhat different from other cats.  Stands to reason.  She’s like no other.

That Day 1 that I mentioned?  She was nowhere to be found.  I called enticingly to her, laid out the food delicately, looked around for her.  Nada.  Niente.  Nix.  Nout.  Nothing.

It took a long, anxious time of looking.  Methodically, room by room, floor by floor.  Even the sound-proofed drumming chamber.  There are limits to which even she, slender beneath that furl of fur, could escape notice behind a sofa, bookcase, table, whatever.

Not knowing what else to do, I began to open the doors that had been closed, and had been stated to remain closed customarily.  And, whew, lo and behold, there she was standing quietly (note that obstacle, evidently a test of sorts) on the upstairs landing, behind the door, looking quizzically at me.

Then, in series (the comments were all hers; I was speechless with astonishment and relief):  ‘Where Have You Been?’  ‘I have been here all the while.’  ‘Slow, aren’t you?’  ‘And now’ — breezing majestically around me, with her tail furled in a dismissive sort of question mark, already answered — ‘And now that’s cleared up, let’s go find Dinner’.

Lessons Learned

Mistie at the Top of the Stairs. Photograph © Mildred Budny

Say Mistie For Me

With that discovery out of the way, our routine settled quickly into an effective, easy method.  Opening the door, I would call out ‘Meow-Meow’.  Well, in my well-meaning way.  (You know what I mean; accent well-meaning but wrong, Wrong, Wrong.  Intentions the Best, at least.)

Almost at once, she would appear, almost always at the top of the stairs, and she would unfailingly respond with a better-declaimed (than mine) and totally imperative (I wouldn’t dare) ‘Meeow!! Meeow!! MEEEEEEOWW!’

Hearing her on multiple occasions, now I conclude that she has a single register, all of it Plaintive.  Come to think of it, whatever she wants (and she always wants for something, even though a rational observation might indicate that, really, she wants for nothing), she wants it NOW!  For those hard of hearing or slow on the uptake, that’s NOW! NOW! MEEEEOW!

That such an attitude among some of my human (rather than humane) colleagues deserves chapters in my Memoirs is another story.  (Here be Warning.)  Here, benignly, we bask in the realm of Cats, particularly Cats with a taste for Books and Manuscripts.  Especially where they can Lie Down On The Job.  Love ’em!

PaperWeight as PaPurrrWeight

About that routine.  When I would unlock the door and enter the hallway, my Arrival Call would begin.  After that first day when she was locked in, by accident as the Guardians departed, and once that mishap was sorted out, she would arrive to show herself — which did not usually mean that she would come to me.  Remember the ‘Don’t Make Us Come To You; We’ll Come When We’re Good and Ready’ Cat-a-Law?

Hearing my call, when she emerged to make an appearance from the study at the top of the stairs, rather than on ground level, she would stand, sit, or lie down right then and there.  Generally she would wait, not always patiently, for me to set down my bags, put down the mail, take off my coat and hat, and ascend the stairway to greet her properly.

This greeting on my part takes the form of sitting down on a step or two lower than her Top Cat location, talking to or with her (Meows only), and much petting and chin-scratching, however she preferred.  Whatever works, hey?

After she had enough of that adulation, or rather, that form of adulation (There is Never Enough, we know that), she moved toward another one, which might be downstairs at the food-station or in the study at the table for the computer.  The study has a large window view (excellent for bird-watching), sunshine for preferred sleeping, and an adjacent bed which could serve for a spread of papers.  As the days progressed, Mistie would spend many hours as a companion editor, paperweight (purrs included), draft excluder (some of the versions were drafty), and keyboard guardian.

Soon, although at first I hadn’t quite dared to pick her up, she made it clear that it was appreciated to have a lift up to my lap, if she approached it from the floor.  The approach by herself from the table top was easy-peasy.  For hours, she might stretch across my lap, with the expectation of frequent strokes and scratches.  To my many variants of typing (there’s a book, story, or blog about that, if not all of them), now Mistie has encouraged (if that’s the word for the compulsion) me to learn to type with one hand, while maintaining due attention to her, her fur, and her purr.

That I managed to get any of the editing work done is demonstrated by the results. (See here.)

We have been producing such materials for our events for a while now, as listed among our Publications, so the principles and practices of our Style Manifesto have become second nature. Our copyright multilingual font Bembino (available freely for download and use) is an asset. Perhaps someday we might have a request to include the glyphs for Cat-a-Lan . . .


IMG_0542 Mistie Faces Off

Face Off

More to tell about Mistie’s fantastic abilities as Co-Editor.  Easy to say, and glad to say, that her skills as companion and collaborator are totally wonderful.  More to tell, but here is a happy start.


We thank Mistie’s Guardians for the chance to get to know her better.

The photographs are by Mildred Budny, reproduced by permission. Samples of her work are visible throughout this website. Others parade on her FaceBook Page for Behind the Camera: Photography by Mildred Budny.


Please let us know if you’d like to join the Mistie Fan Club.

Also, by now, by popular request, she has her very own Fan Page.  Have a look!

Mistie Facing Front. Photography © Mildred Budny

Such a beautiful, discriminating Cat!  Remember, she is our Honorary Invited Copy-Cat Editor.  CopyEditors are also welcome.

Please let us know if you’d like to Volunteer. The concise Agendas for our Open Business Meetings, held each year, tell about our activities, accomplishments, assets, aims, needs, and wishes. Have a look! See the new 2017 Agenda.

Donations, in funds or in kind, are easy to offer, as described for Contributions and Donations.  Easy and helpful!

Watch for our next Interviews.  Please add your Comments and Requests here.