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Store Cat Takes Sabbatical
Alice Waters envious of Fup's foraging opportunities

JULY 8, 2002, PORTLAND, OR — Powells.com announced today that Fup, the longtime store cat at Powell's Books, has been granted an extended leave from her duties at the company.

Recent editions of the bookseller's online newsletter have alluded to Fup's imminent departure, but today's announcement is the first official statement issued by the company's corporate headquarters. Michael Powell, president and founder of the independent bookstore, admitted mixed emotions over the departure. "She deserves a vacation," Powell said, "and we hope she has the time of her life. But that doesn't mean we won't anxiously await her return."

A quarter of a million subscribers follow Fup's adventures via the company's email newsletter, which began documenting the cat's life in 1999. Michael Powell assured customers that PowellsBooks.news will continue to feature the cat in each edition, updating readers on her travels.

According to Mary Winzig, president of Powell's bargaining unit (ILWU Local 5), today's announcement had originally been scheduled for late June, but uncertainty regarding the permissible duration of Fup's leave under the company's existing union contract forced postponement of the news.

"The t's are crossed and the i's have been dotted," a pleased, if tired, Winzig announced this morning. "I think both sides had Fup's interests in mind."

In late May, PowellsBooks.news suggested that Fup could be leaving the store. Concerned subscribers responded with a flurry of email responses, worried that the leave might be permanent. Winzig insists that Fup will indeed return.

Recently, Fup's destination was revealed to be the hills east of the city.

Alice Waters, chef and founder of Chez Panisse Restaurant and author of Chez Panisse Fruit, expressed considerable envy at Fup's opportunity to forage from the rich local landscape. "She'll find there are many more edible plants out there than she could possibly imagine," Waters said. "I was making mental notes as I was walking in Portland, and I thought, 'Ah! Chestnut!' I saw wild fennel. I was thinking about dandelions. Particularly going out in the woods, there's likely to be some good wild mushrooms."

During Fup's absence, her sisters Ro and Clara will share store cat responsibilities. The interim role marks the first official store cat duties for each.

Today's announcement should put to rest speculation within the company that Fup's departure was involuntary, not a vacation but a suspension due to repeated violations of Powell's Time and Attendance policy. Both Powell and Winzig declined to comment on those rumors.

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