Open Thread: An Inspiration to Us All…

From the NYTimes:

LIKE her name, Siglinda Scarpa seems to be from another world. And not just Italy, where she was born. But one in which you can hear the animals speak, and everyone gets along.

Ms. Scarpa, 72, lives in a wooden house painted robin’s egg blue, in the middle of an open woodland, with old oaks and pines rising over sandy soil. With its second-story porches covered with the canes of Lady Banks’ roses, Carolina jasmine and wisteria, the house could be something out of a children’s book.

Some people come here to adopt a cat from the Goathouse Refuge, the animal sanctuary she runs, tucked back in the woods. Others come to buy her pottery or ceramic art, which is displayed in the sunny showroom on the first floor of this whimsical house: abstract pieces that evoke storms brewing in the sky; clay roasting pots shaped like squashes, with frogs or artichokes on their lids; or teacups molded like the face of a cat, the lines of cheek and jaw, nose and mouth drawn by a knowing hand.

For there are real cats everywhere.

A white one sits as still as a snowy owl on a post overlooking the woodland. Others walk among dogs napping in the sun. More perch on the railing of a porch, staring at the birds zooming in and out of feeders beyond their reach.

Once in a while the cry of a guinea hen or a turkey rends the air. Pecking for bugs around a garden full of greens, they, too, are unafraid of the sleeping dogs — although those dogs came immediately to attention when I opened the creaking gate, joyfully barking and wagging their tails…

For the sake of your blood pressure, don’t miss the accompanying slide show

38 replies
  1. 1
    Genine says:

    Now I know what I want to be when I grow up. :)

  2. 2
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    someone should write a kids book about this woman.

    Also, AL, thanks for this post – it’s been a crap week from a small admin implosion at work to a punctured bike tire AND innertube to a sudden cramp locking up my right shoulder and this post totally made it much much better.

  3. 3
    Baud says:

    Good news…or bad news…depending on your perspective.

    NASA deems Earth safe from massive asteroid strike in 2036

  4. 4
    WereBear says:

    That sounds marvelous! A Peaceable Kingdom.

  5. 5
    cmorenc says:

    I have a retired couple living next door to me at the beach in North Carolina who are “cat people”, who have at any given time from one to two dozen cats living at their house, many of which are “rescue” cats that people abandoned on the island. The immediate side yard next to mine had a cat graveyard, complete with marble headstones, in which thirty or so cats who were adopted as their personal pets are buried, each with the cat’s name and a terse personal description. Their entire second-level wraparound porch is enclosed with storm windows, converted over to being a sheltered residence for many of the cats, and has an extentsion to a pair of cat “treehouses” extending thirty or so feet out from the porch, the outermost of which is also immediately adjoining my property line. I can sit on my front porch and see the cats lying in the open-screened treehouse not twenty feet away from me. They are good people, but all that cat food lying out in the open areas underneath their house also attracts raccoons and possums, who sometimes come over and poop on my back deck, the one annoying downside of having fanatical cat people next door. But they’re great neighbors generally, and I can forgive them for their cat-eccentricity.

  6. 6
    WereBear says:

    @cmorenc: When people ask why I have so many, (last count, 4) I reply that it is because they have so few.

    No one sets out to accumulate double digits of cats. The numbers mount up (and it doesn’t sound like a hoarder situation) because there are so many cats who need homes.

    I reached 10 in my Long Island house simply by not saying No to only cats who directly crossed my path. That is how bad the need can be.

    Places in the article above must exist, for humanity’s sake. And humanity should be able to do a better job about opening their hearts and homes to cats. From lazy landlords who think “no pets” solves all problems to the irresponsible pet owners who make them take such a stance, cats need to be valued more.

    And then, there will less of them.

  7. 7
    Raven says:

    @cmorenc: Redfish hittin?

  8. 8
    PeakVT says:

    The World aired a good but somewhat sad report on stray dogs in Mexico City on Wednesday.

  9. 9
    Elizabelle says:

    Saw that report on cat nirvana in Pittsboro, NC and knew it was gonna be on Balloon Juice.

    Siglinda has a great blog; you can “vote” to support her animal rescue. Someone is offering framed original art of cats.

    And, she’s looking for some sewing talent/materials donations for her upcoming Carnevale.

  10. 10
    JPL says:

    @Raven: I decided to stream Joe this morning in order to listen to his latest rant. He is behaving. What’s up with that? Hopefully he was embarrassed by his antics yesterday.

  11. 11
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @JPL: I missed. What did he do yesterday that was more egregious than usual?

  12. 12
    JPL says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Yesterday Joe mocked Mika but mediate and huff post picked it up. He was over the top and for him, that’s a high bar to reach. Raven gave us updates. Today he spoke about gun control and the NRA being owned by manufacturers.

  13. 13
    Elizabelle says:


    Muted Joe when he was accusing Harry Reid of having no courage. Joe still thinks his beloved Republican party is financially serious, and that from what solutions will come.

    Why should we wake up to someone who won’t wake up?

    PS: from last night’s adobo recipe thread:

    there’s a new Redkitten in the world! Second son; Sam is a big bro.

  14. 14
    hildebrand says:

    Wish me luck, I have a phone interview for an academic job today. Hopefully I say the right things today to be invited for an on-campus interview.

  15. 15
    Whatthehell says:

    Lovely Peaceable Kingdom. Thank you.

    New computer, new key board, and frayed nerves here.

  16. 16
    gene108 says:


    Watched the first half hour Mika seemed kinda sad. My beloved snow queen looked like she didn’t want to be there.

    Also, too Scarborough was ripping the Republicans for their insistence of backing the NRA’s refusal to cooperate with any further gun control/safety measures. He actually seemed reasonable. This is when Republicans are at their most dangerous.


    When people ask why I have so many, (last count, 4) I reply that it is because they have so few.

    I think that applies to a lot of things with regards to charity. Why I do ‘x’ is because so few are also doing it.

  17. 17
    gene108 says:


    Good luck! Keeping fingers crossed for you!

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @Elizabelle: Oh thank you. I would have missed that.
    Congrats to Red Kitten.

  19. 19
    JPL says:

    @gene108: That’s the part I watched. I missed the Harry Reid did though.

  20. 20
    Debbie(Aussie) says:

    Hugs and congrats to red kitten Sam and Mr red kitten. Hope everything went well. Deb

  21. 21
    Ash Can says:

    @Elizabelle: Squeeee! Thanks for letting us know!

    @hildebrand: Knock ’em dead!

  22. 22
    Poopyman says:

    Congrats, Redkitten!

    @Baud: Don’t worry, it’s the ones you DON’T see coming that you have to worry about.

    @hildebrand: Good luck! I find myself having an interview for a new position on Tuesday. Work is … unsettled. Thought I would get to retirement in a few years without having to go through this again.

  23. 23
    Poopyman says:

    My favorite cousin pointed this out to me. Likey.

  24. 24
    Emma says:

    @hildebrand: Best of luck!

    And many congrats to the RedKitten family.

  25. 25
    khead says:

    I started pimping this place on Facebook a while back. My sister lives in NC and has been there. Maybe a month or two ago. She told me the place is great and I’ve been getting their updates ever since.. Glad to see someone giving them some pub.

  26. 26
    Svensker says:

    @Ash Can:

    @Elizabelle: Squeeee! Thanks for letting us know!

    @hildebrand: Knock ‘em dead!

    Ditto from me.

  27. 27
    J.D. Rhoades says:

    She’s right up the road from me (well, 45 minutes or so).

    It’s a big area for pottery and ceramics artists. Very cool story.

  28. 28
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Thanks. In Balloon Juice, as in so many things, “You miss a day, you miss a lot.”


    there’s a new Redkitten in the world! Second son; Sam is a big bro.

    Missed that, too! Thanks for repeating the announcement. Congratulations to the Kitten family. I’ll look forward to all the new squeeworthy pictures.

  29. 29
    WereBear says:

    @Elizabelle: Thanks for update, that is great!

  30. 30
  31. 31
    Elizabelle says:

    Redkitten news broken by Yutsano and asiangrrrlMN last night. I just happened upon it.

    But squeee.


    Luck and a cool head be with you! Keep us posted.

    Let us know if carrying a gun is a term of employment.

  32. 32
    BretH says:

    Been there several times. Lovely place, lovely person. Any $$ you could throw towards the Goathouse would I am sure be greatly appreciated.

  33. 33
    Geeno says:

    When will there be pics of the newest Kitten?
    I can’t wait.

  34. 34
    DFS says:

    Hey, neat stuff. The Goathouse folks are quite famous around here locally. Good to see them getting some publicity.

  35. 35
    Interrobang says:

    It’s obvious from the slideshow that her cats adore her. The picture of her talking to the two cats on the porch is a portrait in feline affection for a human — you can tell by the cats’ body language.

    I must admit, I know exactly how it feels to be that closely bonded to cats. My first cat fell in love with me instantly, and my second cat picked me at the Humane Society. The third cat I sort of got by accident, but he’s now freakishly loyal to me. I’d rather not wind up spending my retired years looking after dozens of cats, but it might happen.

  36. 36
    Mnemosyne says:


    She apparently is doing well enough with the shelter (and, presumably, her art) that she has 5 paid assistants and 15 volunteers. If I had someone else to scoop the poops and go out to buy the cat food like she does, that sounds like a perfect retirement plan.

  37. 37
    JustRuss says:

    I recently inherited two cats who seem to believe that my dining room table is theirs by divine right. Slide #12 makes me sigh like Charlie Brown.

  38. 38
    Gus says:

    I’m gonna be that asshole. I love cats, have been owned by them, have cried when I put them down, but outdoor cats kill hundreds of millions of birds every year. Please keep your cats inside. It’s safer for them, too.

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