Color in Black and White, With Cats

Cat’s Eye Crying Color, or The Antediluvian Feather-Duster

I wish I was still doing this kind of work. I did the original drawing using graphite and hard lead drawing pencils. Then I had mechanical prints made from that drawing. I hand-colored them with pencils, making each one different.

My old artwork was done in the company of cats. Often they were snoozing on the drawing table or on me as I worked, exercising watchful feline supervision.

I wrote, but I was mainly a painter and mixed media artist before I became ill. After that I no longer had the fine finger coordination needed for visual artwork.

So I wrote the book Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions. Writing helped me stitch mind and memory together across time. Volume 1 includes the years when I could draw and paint and collage. When I began this website I used photographs as illustrations. I’ve come to really enjoy doing photo essays. I know my photos are far from technically on point, as I don’t have a background in photography basics. It’s hard for me to learn new things now. I just use a few photo editing techniques the hubs taught me to make the color and light and dark balance closer to something I like. Which usually means, extreme bright color. I never really get the pictures exactly as I want them.

However the book is not like a photo essay. There are only pictures on the cover, no pictures inside, because they are so expensive to print. Imagery is built of words in the book. I wrote it like a painter. It dances with cats of all colors. Friends say it’s “vivid”. It’s not only about cats, it’s about the natural world, and going to live in a wilderness full of leaves and animals and insects and amphibians. It’s about art and music and work and community in the southern US in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. It’s also about the great forest of North America. This first volume goes to 2004-2005. I wasn’t from this area, but I’ve lived here 50 years. It’s southern, it’s weird; but even though I’m partial to black cats, it’s not Southern Gothic, or old-style Gothic either. It’s heavily researched, and I tried to make the science solid.

Franklin in March last year

As I wrote, our savvy cats were in close attendance. Major influences on the prose are: Shakespeare, and Faulkner; fellow artist friends who were and still are into surrealism and experimental writing; the crisp, precise description found in scientific writing; the stellar story-telling abilities of US Southerners; music – I try to make syntax rhythmic, because sometimes a sentence just needs another beat. The writing style changes over the years, like real life does. The biggest influence through all times was, our cats.

The bibliography would fill several pages. I checked out a major textbook on rabies from the library (for Vol. 2), and read other cat narratives, cat mysteries, cat science, cat picture books, James Herriot stories.

So the book’s not exactly like the photo essays you read on this website (and there will be more but busy, difficult times are making us slower to get the needed work done to make space on the computer.)

The book pages are in black and white, like the above picture of Franklin.

We can add color to artwork, and soup it up in photos, as you see below:

Franklin with jazzed light

Though the mechanisms are different, it works that way with books, too; when we read we get color and stories from black and white markings; they flash through our brains in full spectrum.

Check out this post for the ways you can get Catwoods. Shipping is free until the end of March. If you are not in the US you will have to email to make arrangements.

Catwoods the Book With Free Shipping

Lovely Borgo Publishing Catwoods page

Stay tuned for spring photos and uh, more cats and kittens.

Posted in Art, black cats, Book topics, Cats, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Catwoods the Book With Free Shipping!

You can now order Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions, with free shipping through the end of March at these publisher sites:

Borgo Publishing Catwoods page

As of today, March 18, I found yet another page to buy the book on the Ernest and Hadley Booksellers site under “local authors” (local here, that is)

Ernest and Hadley Booksellers Catwoods Page

Although the following site says it’s “special order” the publisher assures me the book is available at (also with free shipping through the end of March):

Ernest and Hadley indielite Catwoods page

You can also go to Amazon and get free free shipping as their listing goes to Borgo Publishing:

Amazon Catwoods page

If you are in a country other than the US, sorry to say that you will have to email to arrange to get the book. They are the owners of Borgo; they are local and I know them to be reliable.

And, please do tell me in a comment how it goes ordering from anywhere, US, or elsewhere.

Obviously we think that’s a big, bold deal! Franklin is casual towards all things book but is willing to say, “That’s cool!”

Franklin says, “What book?”

For more about the book see the reviews on Amazon, the Leah T. Alford Author page, and the “Book Topics” section in Categories on the right hand side of this page.

We do have some Spring pictures waiting until we can work on the computer to expand the space for photos, and a few winter ones we’ve missed. They’ll be coming soon, so stay tuned!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Here’s Shelley with a “What’s with that camera!” look.

Shelley, Tortie Extraordinaire


Posted in black cats, Book topics, Cats | Tagged , , , | 28 Comments

Catwoods the Book is on Katzenworld Today!

We are happy to say that my book Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions, is on Katzenworld today. It’s presented by Oliver the Maker of Mischief! Thank you Oliver and Katzenworld!

Life With Cats Becomes a Book

Uh, since I wrote that post the publisher has changed things, so now the fastest way for those in the US to get the book is at this link: Borgo Publishing Catwoods page. Outside the US, please email to make arrangements.

Posted in Uncategorized | 35 Comments

Franklin the Cat is on Tummy Rub Tuesday!

Our Franklin is on Tummy Rub Tuesday over at Katzenworld today!

Go check out that wonderful site and the post with the Franklin tummy and other kitty tummies on Tummy Rub Tuesday!

Posted in Cat Topics | Tagged , | 62 Comments

Franklin Kitty Dabbles in Editing, Quibbles Over Catwoods Book Cover

Franklin, Budding Editing Cat

Franklin took a brief interest in editing recently. Taking a rare glance at the screen, he was pleased to see himself in the website banner. As a budding Editing Cat, he expressed approval.

Franklin notices my Catwoods book on the Borgo Publishing site, a great place to get the book.

Then we looked at the lovely Borgo Publishing site, where my book Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions, is for sale.

Frankie quibbling, against the beautiful backdrop of Borgo Publishing

“Impressive!  But now that I’m up close I see that the black cat on the cover is not me, just who is that Othercat!?”

“That’s The Minx . . .”

“What the … ! Phsssst!”

The Borgo Publishing Catwoods page

It’s really quite a beautiful site, and, it’s kinetic! Getting the book at the Borgo Publishing Catwoods page will be the prettiest online buying experience ever!

Nope, says Franklin

“Nope, I’m just not gonna look at that,” says Franklin, “And I won’t be editing that second book unless I’m on the cover.”

“Um …” (The second volume is supposed to have our late Little Buddy aka Good Old Boy.)

Frankie’s got his mind made up

“Seriously, I’m just not looking, not until my own picture’s on a book cover.”

Franklin being a cat, he has territorial rivalries; for humans the Catwoods book page at the Borgo Publishing site is a feast for the eyes.


Shelley last year

Our friend’s cat sweet Shelley!

“Phssssst,” says Franklin, ” Othercat!”

To see what friends who have read Catwoods are saying, go to my Leah T. Alford Amazon Author Page.

A few words from me about Catwoods the book:

It’s mainly about cats but also has forest and creek descriptions and history.  I go for rhythm when composing word structures. I like to break the rules and have fun with language, otherwise, why bother? I kept the outmoded lavish writing quirks of some earlier decades when writing about those years. For more recent times, I employed the sparser style of today. I evolved to include more of the cadence, structure, and expressions of humans actually talking, not just in dialogue, but as the narrator. The book’s mood ranges from light and conversational to completely goofy to seriously scholarly, to feeling sad about history, and life events. Cats, too, have their own ways of being lighthearted, or studious, or gloomy. There are blissful, giddy moments, and somber moments as we look back. This is the way real life is – humans, and animals, having moods and phases.

News from the Cat Writers’ Association! They have an annual contest that is open to members and also non-members who are writing as well as creating works about cats in other media. Work must have been published in 2019. The deadline to enter is February 14th. You can read about it here: Cat Writers Association Communications Contest

Stay tuned, we will have more pictures of creek, woods, and cats, cats, cats. First we have to do some work on the computer so I can store more pictures, so that could delay my next posts.

Posted in black cats, Book topics, Cat Topics | Tagged , , , | 83 Comments

In Winter, Cat and I Look Back at Fall

Only one picture, one instant (that I caught), had anything like the color effects in this foreground.

Everything’s different now at the creek, all leaves were washed away by heavy rains. More storms are on the way, with severe weather potential.

Franklin on an autumn afternoon

I miss all those quirky fall colors; Franklin misses the sunnier light and the autumn smell of freshly-turned leaves and sounds of busy outside critters.

A quick word about Franklin’s eyes. He has large and very prominent eyes. I think that’s the reason a few people say he looks “startled”. Frankie’s somewhere on a continuum between feral and socialized to humans, and he has a detached, grouchy demeanor at times. He’ll even purr with that look on his face! But if he was really startled, his pupils would be much larger. One day I’ll do a post about his gorgeous eyes.

Stopping by

Translucent, with tree shadows

Saw the forest, it was floating

Semblance of trees

Murky tree hints

Looks like evening, but isn’t. Still looking back

Waves of green

Subsurface origins

Unsmooth landing

Crossing currents


Rock Slap

Shadow Animation

Reality check

A little calming glitter

Lagniappe: The beautiful Shelley, our friend’s cat, in September light:

Shelley! Found on the streets as a kitten, she became a sweet house cat.

We end with Frankie sitting upon me and demanding attention. He likes to stretch out one front foot and rest it on my forearm while he sleeps.

Don’t forget my book, er, “our book” says Franklin, and he’s right, it’s not Woods, it’s Catwoods. Available on Amazon (check out my new Amazon author site and the nice things friends are saying about the book) and at Borgo Publishing. For international orders, contact, found on the Borgo site at the top.

Posted in black cats, Cats, Creeks, Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 76 Comments

Franklin Meows for a Happy New Year!

Franklin wishes everyone a Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and many thanks to all who have followed and read and viewed this site, from Franklin and me! Please know I appreciate y’all even though my ongoing health issues mean I cannot express that appreciation as often and as gracefully as I’d like to.

Bud the Editing Cat is still looking out for the book from the Rainbow Bridge

Thanks also, to all those who have purchased my book and read it! This is the first time I’ve posted the cover picture showing the spine, which features my late Editing Cat, Bud. My late Minx is the cover kitty. There has been a change in how to purchase it on Amazon; to get a new copy you have to click on “1 new from 23.95” which leads to Borgo Publishing, the publisher of the book. For international orders, contact on the Borgo site. Please consider purchasing a copy, as we now have even more cats to take care of! As soon as I can I will post about these newest events in our ongoing life with cats. While you’re at Amazon, check out my new author profile site, and check back later too, as it isn’t complete yet!

I know I mention the book a lot but to have my first book-length work out at my age is a big deal to me! It’s been stranger and more fascinating than I could have imagined!

Catlike Image Appears in Landscape, detail

In 2020 I hope to feature more of my past art, so here is a mixed media piece I did in the late 80s or early 90s. I’ve posted it before on this website, but it’s been a long time.

It may be awhile before I can post again but please stay tuned!

Posted in Art, black cats, Book topics, Cats | Tagged , , , , | 70 Comments