An Artist Date with Milo and Thackery



This summer I treated myself to an Artist Date, a little “assigned play” per the wisdom of Julia Cameron. Julia recommends replenishing one’s well of inspiration through whimsical and festive solo exploration. What could be more fun than a day with two fuzzy visitors to Zoo New England, Milo and Thackery?

The koala brothers slept through most of my visit, but at noon a bushel of fresh eucalyptus arrived. They perked up a bit, and dined with placid, steady determination. Here is my poem about this highlight of their day:


The koala won’t holler if lunch is delayed,

He simply continues to doze.

Curled up in a lump, just a furry gray bump

Til a menthol scent tickles his nose.

Eucalyptus – your favorite! It’s time to get up

And fill your round belly with leaves.

He crunches and munches the greens in big bunches

Then stumbles back up in the trees.

Sleep well young koala! Enjoy your long nap.

May your dreaming be pleasant and sweet.

For the rest of the day you’ll be snoozing away

Til you wake up once more just to eat.



When my husband and I travelled through Australia, we saw plenty of kangaroos, emus and wallabies. We loved the fairy penguins on Kangaroo Island and the kaleidoscope of marine life on the Great Barrier Reef. Despite hiking miles of riverbank, we never saw a platypus but became intimately familiar with leeches (ick!). I spied koalas through binoculars, sleeping through the heat of the day at great shady heights. Although I did not succumb to any of the tourist-trappy “Hold a Koala for a Photo” spots, I do regret not seizing the opportunity to touch that fluffy fur!

Cool, crisp fall mornings are now upon us, and Milo and Thackery have returned to their warm San Diego home. I’ve assembled some koala links if you would like to learn more about these cuddly creatures:

What is your favorite cuddly creature? Or your favorite lunch?


About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at or Twitter @catballoumealey
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65 Responses to An Artist Date with Milo and Thackery

  1. Do toddlers count as cuddly creatures? Just in case they don’t…I’ll choose my dog Eddie. Glad you were able to observe them for a bit. Even napping animals are a gift to watch.

  2. Tina Cho says:

    Great poem, even including the word “menthol”! I agree, it’s good to refresh through art and other venues!

  3. Love the poem and photos. I want to lick those lazy little koala heads! My favorite cuddly creature is my stuffed monkey. My favorite lunch is whatever Mom is having – even though she just gives me a tiny taste.

    Love and licks,

  4. izatrapani1 says:

    Cathy, what a terrific poem! Great rhythm and language and internal rhymes.
    That whimsical. solo exploration served you well!
    I love to cuddle puppies, but if it were safe, I would eagerly cuddle a black bear or a polar bear.

  5. rnewman504 says:

    Wonderful poem, Cathy! And so nice to read about your ventures exploring Australia. (In one of my stories, I managed to sneak in the word “wallaby.” Have no idea what made me think of it!) Too many cuddly things to narrow down, so I’ll do lunch. There’s a little place on the Upper East Side called Yura and they have these boxed chicken fajita sandwiches. Yum, yum, yum. That with a slice of their angel food cake, iced in chocolate, and a peach iced tea is probably my all-time, favorite lunch. What’s your favorite?

  6. Your poem is adorable! Thanks so much for sharing, not only your day at the zoo but also the idea of Artist Date. I think I need to do this, soon.

  7. Joanna says:

    Great use of internal rhyme and language – love this koala poem and whole koala post!

    I have a fluffy duck!

  8. Although I am more of a wombat fellow — and my wife vows to go to any length to get one as a pet — you have sold me on koalas. That is one fantastic poem.

    Have you ever considered a rhyming PB on Australian animals?

  9. jama says:

    Love this post. Koalas are just too adorable and what a great poem (you had me at the word “lunch” in the title). Never been to Australia so enjoyed hearing about your adventures there.

    Favorite cuddly animal? Probably a bunny (don’t tell Cornelius).

  10. I’m not sure which image I like better: you on a solo me-date with koalas (sounds heavenly) or you in full safari garb battling leeches in Australia. I think I have to go with the leeches!

    Such a fun poem, Cathy. Your meter is always perfect and your style so effortless. I always want more poetry from you!

  11. laurimeyers says:

    Lovely! The koala is to Australia what a filter is in a fish tank, right? He’s just cute, eats up some eucalyptus to keep it in check, and goes back to sleep. Actually now that I think about it, my 5yo picky eater’s diet is pretty limited too, so she barely has enough energy to do more than sleep (well sleep, scream, and make rainbow loom bracelets). Maybe there’s a PB in there…

    • They say the koala just barely edges out the kangaroo as a beloved symbol of Australia. With the sleeping and eating requirements, sounds like a dream job!
      Sorry about your picky eater – she could be your PB inspiration!

  12. danacarey1 says:

    Somehow those solo excursions into the world really do replenish the spirit in a big way. I love your poem, Cathy. Thanks for sharing your koala moment!

  13. Love this poem! And now you have me wanting to feel the fuzzy fur too!

  14. Catherine Johnson says:

    I love koalas! I saw some at Melbourne zoo. Love your poem, Cathy. I fancy re-blogging this some time.

  15. Who isn’t taken by koalas! They are so cute. I love your koala poem and entire koala post! Great way to stimulate your imagination!

  16. Thoroughly enjoyed your koala poem, Cathy! Crunches, munches, bunches…just awesome!

  17. mziskjr says:

    I do have one of those photos with a koala, and he was surprisingly soft. But not his tree-climbing claws–watch out!

    • I am SO jealous! Despite those rather lethal-looking claws, this is on my bucket list with riding a camel in the Sahara and swimming with dolphins. I am definitely going to koala-snuggle on my next trip to Australia!

  18. Well, my grandparents have a dog with long long hair, and it’s cuddly… I like sushi (cooked) for lunch! Great poem!

  19. Sue Wang says:

    This post makes me want to find a koala and pet it. My favorite cuddly thing is my pillow…or Roger. :p

  20. What a great poem, Cathy. And so true to the Koala’s character… except for the rare occasions they get ornery! Your post actually brought back memories of two of my previous homes– the 6 1/2 years I lived in Sydney, but also the first year I lived in New Mexico because The Artist’s Way held such an important place in my life at that time.

  21. Catherine Johnson says:

    Reblogged this on Catherine Johnson and commented:
    I love this cuddly post so much I had to share and Cathy is so nice too.Enjoy!

    • Aha! Thank you Catherine. 🙂 Couldn’t figure out why I had received so many new blog post comments, and I see it was all due to you, my Fairy Blogmother! Thank you for reblogging my koala post, dear friend.

  22. Inspiration through the imagery of this story. Thank you for sharing. This is my promotion weekend for all of my eBooks please check them out and thank you for your support.

  23. Love the poem, Cathy! And I also love that you did not participate in the cheesy “pet a wild animal” thing. 😉

    I’m so glad Catherine reblogged your post because I’ve been meaning to find your blog and follow it. 🙂

  24. Loved your poem and Koala post. They are adorable animals and I have had the pleasure of holding them a couple of times, photos included. (I’m off to Oz next week actually).

  25. I love that poem! Some great words in there! My favorite cuddly is whatever stuffie Walker hasn’t hidden away. And a lunch of burger and fries would be really nice. Thanks for sharing your artful wanderings.

  26. Just catching up on my blog reading. What a great poem, Cathy! I love the topic you chose and you’ve got great rhythm and rhyme going on there.

    OK – favorite cuddly has to be my cat. She’s not forcing me to type this, I swear, though she does love to run across the keyboard. Favorite lunch – whatever someone else makes for me!

    I hope you get to do another Artist Date soon. I may need to schedule one for myself…

  27. Oh Cathy, what a wonderfully rhythmic poem. Just like a melody for the soul.
    Favorite cuddly? My horses, of course! I love a good nuzzle and snuggle with them. (Plus, I have a Shih Tzu too.) 🙂

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