Of cats, cameras and calendars. Kitty ready for his closeup


How picture purrrrrrrfect: A photo of tabby cat Mitch, whose people are Walla Wallans Phyllis and Gerry Harlan, is featured in the 2013 Bad Cat calendar from Workman Publishing Co. in New York City.

Workman publicist John Duggan said the name for this particular production of cat photos goes back to the eponymous book the company put out a few years ago.

"They're not bad in the classic sense as in they bite people," John said. "But rather mischievous."

The Harlans sent in their photo of Mitch two years ago, Phyllis said. There he lay, at least 36 inches long, stretched out by a yard stick.

Now 12, "Mitch has been the neatest cat we have ever had," Phyllis said. "He shows me his feet before he comes in the house, spreads his toes really wide." When they're dirty, Phyllis cleans them off and in he pads.

Why did it take so long for Mitch to get his star turn? "We don't get rid of any photos that are submitted," John said. "The staff will go through their files and pick what fits best with each year's crop, based on which ones they like most."

Mitch is pretty smart. He knows where he's allowed in the house and sleeps in about three places -- when the Harlans are home, that is. "When we're here, he's never on the davenport. But he's a little sly. We see him on the back of the couch looking out the window when we're coming home," she said.

Mitch catnaps in a box under a light in the garage when it's cold, During the day he's in and out of the house.

"He's been a real good cat. He will hang out when I play bridge." But he is known to pussyfoot on occasion. "He does sneak into places he shouldn't be when we're not home. He's pretty good at that," Phyllis added. "And he goes nose to nose with the neighbor cat. He's a good cat other than that."

The substantial Mitch weighs about 18-20 pounds. He is draped in orange, with a solid white undercarriage and brown-smudged nose and mouth area, Phyllis said.

When Gerry goes for his walk, Mitch is known to shadow his movements, at least a little way along the route. Then Mitch hides in shrubs and jumps out when Gerry returns.

The couple have always had a cat. "We had to put our other one to sleep so our son-in-law (Tyler Schilperoort) brought this one over as a present," Phyllis said.

When a mere morsel of a kitten, Mitch was rescued from a trailer park in Sunnyside. Tyler brought him along with food, a litter box and carrier.

Married to the Harlans' daughter Kristine, Tyler said he'd take the cat back if he didn't work out. Kristine, librarian for the Mabton school district, graduated from Walla Walla High School and Whitman College.

Tyler had the kitten checked out by a vet and given its shots at about 2-3 months old. Mitch was the name the cat came with, Phyllis said.

Thousands of submissions are made annually to Workman for its cat and dog contest calendars. When most of the photos came in as actual prints, "our offices would look like Santa's Workshop, filled with bags and bags of mail," said Susan Bolotin, editor in chief at Workman.

The deluge is mostly digital now, she said. The photo editor still brings in extra hands to open the mail and deal with the enormous volume of pictures.

"As he sorts through them, he looks for beauty, wit, variety and artful composition, as well as for pictures that simply have that 'ahhh' factor." It takes months to sort through the cats , dogs, kittens and puppies, including those with unusual or surprising stories.

Editors of each of the (365 Dogs, 365 Cats, 365 Kittens-A-Year, 365 Puppies-A-Year, Bad Cats and Bad Dogs) calendars fuss over what exactly will make the grade.

"It's never an easy decision--everyone who submits a photo of a pet thinks that theirs is the most beautiful or the cutest or the funniest, and we tend to agree!

"Still, we think that setting the bar very high makes for calendars that people love to look at day after day, year after year," Susan said.

It looks like Mitch's star turn is in the 2013 calendar., which will be out on Dec. 16 and available in local stores, Barnes & Noble, Amazon and Target.

Through a groundswell of popularity, Junior Club of Walla Walla's fifth annual Festival of Mini-Trees is a hot commodity.

"This will be our largest year yet with 40-plus trees on display -- and of course all of the proceeds go to our core projects for the 2012-2013 year: Blue Mountain Humane Society, Walla Walla Community Hospice, YWCA, Campfire, Books for Babes and Herring House and scholarship funds for deserving local women."

So said member Colby Burke, adding that as the event grows each year, businesses are asking the club if they can decorate a tree.

The adorned minis are on display through Dec. 16 in the lobby of the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, 6 W. Rose St.

Visitors can bid on their favorite ones in a silent auction setting or provide a flat donation, Colby said.

A "Buy It Now" feature will also be added to some trees so customers can have the option to pay the full value of the tree to have it immediately.

Local artists, decorators and merchants such as Bright's Candies, Beehive, Book & Game, Studio Opal, Stella & Dot, Salumiere Cesario, Marcus Whitman Hotel, Reynvaan Family Vineyards, Stash, Wine Valley Golf Club and Walla Walla Clothing Co. put their talents to use, decorating the trees in various holiday themes.

For more details, contact Colby at colbyjburke@gmail.com .

Walla Walla Symphony's annual Youth and Family Concert Nov. 15-16 was such fun, they plan to host another one in the spring, a symphony first, said Leah Wilson-Velasco, CEO.

At 2 p.m. April 20, the Symphony will join with members of the Walla Walla Symphony Youth Orchestra and guest artists PROJECT Trio to again entertain younger listeners.

The November performances featured a partnership with Dance Center of Walla Walla, Northwest Public Radio personalities Robin Rilette and Gillian Coldsnow and young Richland-area violinist Diana Wang.

They presented Sarasate's showy violin piece "Zigeunerweisen" and the beloved children's tale, "Peter and the Wolf" by Prokofiev.

Families were admitted free to the Nov. 15 performance with a donation of a non-perishable food item, which was donated to the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank.

"Not only was this performance standing-room only, but the Symphony collected 2,171 pounds of food for BMAC," Leah said.

The following day, local schools bused third- through fifth-graders to attend two free performances.

The Symphony, which has been making music since 1907, has a proud tradition of presenting programming for young people here since 1953.

Sponsors that help make their programming possible include Community Bank, Key Technology, Tallman's Drug, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and Whitman College.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.


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