BANDON - When Andrea Gatov first met Pinkie, he appeared out of nowhere and sauntered up to her car as she was leaving her job as therapist at Belloni Boys Ranch.
She had no intention of taking home a cat that day. In fact, earlier, the boys had brought her a stray - not uncommon at the facility, where many animals are dumped - but she asked the cook if he would take it. Gatov already had three cats at home, so no thanks, she said.
Pinkie, Andrea Gatov's beloved cat, is the subject of a new self-published children's book, written by Gatov and illustrated by Victoria Tierney.
But when a different cat - a kitten - came out of the woods as she was heading to her car, she picked it up.
"It was so little and had such a loud purr," Gatov said. "I said, 'OK, you can come home with me and I'll call you Pinkie."
On the way home, Pinkie was comfortably snuggled in Gatov's lap when she saw another kitten on the road. She stopped and told Pinkie if the kitten came up to her, she'd take it too. It did. Then, driving with Pinkie in her lap and the kitten on her shoulder, Gatov came upon yet another kitten. It too ended up in the car. She brought all three home to join her already three cats.
"I said to myself, 'This is not what I meant when I asked for love in my life,'" Gatov joked.
Pinkie had a ton of personality from the start. He'd hide and attack hummingbirds and bring them to her dead until she scolded him. Then he'd bring them to her alive. He was a great rat catcher. He got into trouble but was such a charmer he was always forgiven, because why not?
"Pinkie was really something," Gatov said. "He needed a book written about him."
Gatov wrote a poem "Mr. Pinkie in the Sinkie" about the cat for her grandson, who was then 2. She also wrote about Pinkie for her writer's group. She had taken many photos of Pinkie over the years, so tried to put together a photo book to go with the poem through Shutterfly. That proved difficult, so finally Gatov gave up. She thought maybe she could draw the illustrations, but felt her skills weren't up to the task. She decided to ask Victoria Tierney, a well-known and talented local artist who she'd known for 40 years.
"She has been asked to illustrate books before and declined, but really liked mine and said yes," Gatov said. "She did an amazing job."
What the book has become in the end is a collection of paintings by Tierney to go with the poem, all from photos Gatov took. Their mutual friend, Heidi Connolly, helped Gatov create a company, Morning Glory Publishing, and assisted her in the technical aspects of publishing. They sent the book to a printer and, after several hiccups with that process, it was finally published.
Her grandson who she wrote the poem for is now 8 and there's another one, who's 4. Gatov hopes the book entertains them and also teaches about prepositions such as on, in, after, beneath.
Gatov has lived on a farm on North Bank Road in Bandon for 45 years, since 1973. She owned a restaurant for 20 years in Old Town where Foley's is now located and ran it as the popular Andrea's for many years. The restaurant business was physically draining, so Gatov decided to go back to school at age 48 and earn her degree in counseling to became a therapist. She worked at South Coast Hospice for two years, then at Belloni Boys Ranch, a job she loved.
Gatov wanted to use lots of prepositions so her grandchildren would be introduced to the idea. This was the one for "into."
Pinkie has since crossed the Rainbow Bridge and is buried under Gatov's apple tree with a lot of other loved cats and dogs. But that's another story.
There will be a publication party for "Mr. Pinkie in the Sinkie" from 5-7 p.m., Thursday, Nov. 15, at Oregon Bay Properties/Oregon Community Gallery Bandon office, 230 Second St. SE in Old Town, featuring food, drink, literature, art and music. There will even be a special Pinkie cake and a Pinkie shaped smoked tuna-cream cheese sculpture, both created by Gatov. The public is welcome.
The books will be available for sale and the original watercolor illustrations will be for sale as well. And, in honor of the book publication, one of the area's favorite bands, The Librarians (Corrie Gant, Julie Hawthorne and Crystal Landucci) have agreed to re-assemble to perform Rossini’s playful "Cat Cantata." There will also be Baroque music with Connolly on flute and Landucci playing the piano owned by Oregon Bay Properties owners Herb and Brooke Yussim one more time before the piano is headed back to California.