Fall 2017: Creek and Cat, Part 1

Breath taken upon arrival

Fall is moving in fits and starts this year. It’s like we hardly noticed masses of color  crinkling and dropping off the trees, fast. But a few mature bright patches still linger around us, while farther up the road, we see panoramas of newly minted reds, yellows, and oranges. Greens too, they’re still out and about. These photos were taken November 11, 2017 and are unedited. Except the cat picture from August, which I did tinker with.

Wait, there’s more

There’s a tree on the opposite bank, a Sweetgum with two trunks that fused together and then diverged. Beavers have chomped away on the base near ground level. This double tree casts large shadows into the creek at the point where the rapids increase. Those shadows change with the shifting of sun slants, currents, water volumes, canopy leaf loads. The varying shapes might look humanoid at times, though not always.

Emerging shapes that can be anything

Here comes one of those shadows!

I can prove it’s autumn

Evidence of fall, of leaves turned color and shed.

Smart Little Ultraviolet Girl

“The color’s off in those pictures, there’s not enough ultraviolet. You can’t tell because you don’t see into the ultraviolet but I do.” So says Ultraviolet, the cat with a flair for editing. And science, up to a point.

The large leaf is Broadleaf Magnolia

“Um …”

Leaves jam and sparkle

“I heard y’all go out, and then crunch leaves all the way to the creek. I should’ve been taken along. Y’all needed more Ultraviolet, not less, and I needed a drink of that creekwater.”

Leaf pack examination

“Sweetie, your presence doesn’t increase ambient UV radiation. You know that. Nice try, though.”

Hanging in there

“Yeah, I know. But you’re always saying you don’t have the best light to photograph me in the house. The answer is at our doorstep, take me outside and I’ll outshine any leaf or tree or creek. You won’t have to edit pics of me!”

As currents go by

“You’re already prettier than any scenery, no matter how low the light.”

Close Travels

“I am! Purrrrrrrrrrr. Ya know, the creek is a perfect backdrop for a black cat like me, it would bring out all my red highlights and dark depths, I’d look so fetching out there, I would light the place up. Best thing you could do for your website.”

The light from one red leaf goes out to play in the water:

Where are we?

“That’s a great idea, maybe one day I’ll learn how to photo edit you into the creek pictures.”

This scene hasn’t been seen before

“Whoa!? I meant I need to actually smack that water with a paw. You wouldn’t be able to  match the lighting on the creek with the lighting on me in editing. This needs to be paws on!”

Talented ripples and swirls

“I hear more yipping coyotes out there than ever this year, sweetheart. What do you say, I’ll scritch and you purr?”

Dancing by the banks

“Puurrrrrr. This discussion isn’t over though, puurrrrrrrrr.”

Back around the house, those trees!

Lofty tangles

Trees always know what they’re doing

“Puuuurrrrrr. Not over. Puuuurrrrrr.


Posted in Cats, Creeks, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 50 Comments

Wild Fall Color, Sussed Out by House Cat

From 2016, that is. A few leaves began to flare this August but somewhere along the way, our present fall stalled out, y’all. That’s not unusual, peak autumn here just might wait for November.

October 6, 2016   Autumn Beginning, Up Close in the Trees

October 6, 2016  So much to do

November 4, 2016, Yellows are entering!

There’s this one spot high in the trees, a juncture, a jam, of leaves and pine needles. It’s threaded through by a gnarly old longleaf pine tree that lost all its branches in a storm long ago; only one side grew any branches back. Looking from the landing, there’s an elm tree and a sweetgum in front the pine, slightly to its side. At least two elm trees stand behind it, and twining everywhere, living vines sport fresh foliage alongside old dead vines. All this throws the light around and makes messy, complex tangles of effects in the canopy, most notably in the fall. This calls to me. It’s a part of the forest that grew untended, no thinning, no perfect shapes.

Ultraviolet, Beautiful Always

Ultraviolet took to editing right away. She came out of invisibility to tell me just what I can do with my light. Here’s she shines via photo editing, to fit in with the colorful season. Like the previous editor Bud, she wants to know why, if these trees are right outside the door, she can’t go out and climb them.

“Um … getting back down is not so easy for a kitty.”

What’s out there? October 10, 2016

There it is! October 12, 2016

And there! October 17, 2016

Red leaf arrival October 17, 2016

Mysterious berries, identity unknown  October 8, 2016

The large leaves go with the berries, that’s all I know. It isn’t pokeweed, although it has a similar appearance. October 28, 2016

“And I’ve heard water running in a creek out there, so why can I not go drink from it?” she meows. “A cat likes to take a stroll and drink far away from where she eats.”

Feast of reflected color October 30, 2016

Sunshine at play, October 30, 2016

“I know, it’s a behavior from cats’ wild days when they left prey on the ground that might spoil,” I say. “Well sweetheart, coyotes also drink from that creek. We’ve found their tracks there.”

Floating in green waters November 10, 2016

“What are coyotes?”

“A sort of big wild dog, running loose. You may or may not have seen them in the city. Keep listening and you’ll hear them at night.”


Leaves make a splash

Trees have their ways, November 10, 2016


Getting away with a dazzle

“I hid from dogs in the city. So I get that part of it, sort of, but I still want to explore what’s on the other side of that door you know, my ownself. I know light, and I don’t mind telling you how to post your light graphs, but images just don’t do it for me. I’ll need some direct observation if I’m to keep sorting pictures. I’ll need to eyeball the trees and creek, climb to the canopy, and drink the water.”

Orange treat, November 17, 2016

“What if I open a tin and you can chow down now?” (I figure I’ll get her mind off the great outdoors.)

Meanwhile, the forest floor is busy, November 29, 2016

“I’ll wolf it down! Then I’ll go out and drink from that stream!”

“Um ….” I look at her and blink slowly. I learned that from our cats years ago.

December 14, 2016, fall color was still going strong

(She won’t get to go outside, it’s too dangerous. I expect she’ll want to edit again regardless. Wishing for a catio one day!)



Posted in Cats, Creeks, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 60 Comments

Eclipsed Sunlight; Cattitude by Ultraviolet

12:00 noon August 21, 2017, one minute after eclipse began

12:01 pm  August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017. Our area had about 90% occlusion of sun by moon shadow, from about 11:59 AM to 2:57 PM, max coverage about 1:30 PM, CST. I didn’t photograph the eclipse itself, although we did view it through a heavy duty welder’s helmet. Instead I photographed the light in the forest that you don’t see every day. These partial light photos may resemble twilight and the photos may not fully convey the difference in weird eclipse light and regular twilight. None of these outside photos have been enhanced. It’s already autumn, I know, I’m late posting this. But we’ll get to fall later; we’re still having warm weather anyway, with only a few specks of color.

Ultraviolet is a smart cat

“That light ain’t right, no way, no how!” Ultraviolet the Cat chimes in. “I’m a light expert. I lived outside. And I listened in on physics lectures at the University.”

“Um, I know … and our guy knows a lot about physics.”

“Oh a lot has changed since he was in school. Anyways my picture is enhanced.”

“True, but the eclipse scenes are not.”

This will be an incomplete eclipse light record because it was one of those partly cloudy days when fairly full sun and cloud cover kept swapping around. So I’d wait for a little sunshine for the moon’s shadow to mess with, then step outside.

12:10 pm August 21. 2017

12:18 pm August 21, 2017

12:19 pm August 21, 2017

12:30 pm August 21, 2017

12:30 pm August 21, 2017 getting there

12:38 pm August 21, 2017

12:38 pm August 21, 2017 lovely not-twilight light

12:38 pm August 21, 2017 Crescent shadows mingle with leaf shadows

We had a few signs of autumn in the forest in August, and on a regular day you could see a few hints of red in late afternoon when certain light intensities at a certain slant would bring the red of a few turning leaves into view. But I swear, those particular red spots had a greater degree of visibility during the eclipse, though you may not be able to see it in the pictures because the eyes and the camera see differently. I take a photo of one place in the canopy and its surroundings every day, as part of a long-term project to track this magical forest display as it changes in all seasons.

August 21, 2017 1:21 pm approaching max at 90%

1:21 pm August 21, 2017

1:21 pm August 21, 2017 eerie not-twilight

The closest we got to totality, max sun blockage at 90%, around 1:30 pm.

1:30 pm August 21, 2017, at max sun coverage

August 21, 2017, 1:31 pm. Ya don’t see light like this every day

We had to leave for awhile. We came back to regular ole everyday light.

The eclipse had been over for awhile when we got back to the house 4:46 pm August 21, 2017

Bud takes a moment and pops in from the Rainbow Bridge

“Phssssst. Who is that floofer, anyway!?”

“Hey, Budster! Ultraviolet presented this post.”

“Phssssst. And just who is that up on the banner where my momcat Annabelle used to be!?”

“Um, that’s our friend’s cat.” Ultraviolet starts to phsssssst too.

It’s a regular phsssssstfest around here, a three-way hissing match between my ghostly feline editor, my budding in-house feline editor, and my friend’s tortie as viewed above. Each cat swears to eclipse both those Othercats at once. I tell them it doesn’t work that way, but to no avail. Even smart cats can’t do phssssssst and physics at the same time. Sigh.

More about the banner cat later!

Posted in Cats, Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 37 Comments

New Cat Brings Joy, and A Mystery

2870UV reclinin copy-001

Our new kitty, bright-eyed Little Ultraviolet Girl!

Cats have always just walked into our lives. When our Bud departed for the Rainbow Bridge in June and left us catless, we thought we’d have to go looking for a kitty. I thought, well, we’ll go to a shelter or rescue and I’ll seek my favorite fur color, black.

The pictures are dark and may not show our new cat’s colors very well, but I don’t have time to brighten them for this quick announcement. UPDATE: I’ve now had time to try to do some quick beginner’s editing on the first two pictures. They still don’t show the color well as the two colors in the fur mean a challenging edit. I’m trying for a natural look, but when the black areas are dark enough, the reddish tinges become too red. It’s not important, she’s the sweetest little cat and that’s what matters to us! The backgrounds need some more work too, another time.

2834UVfullgaze4 copy

Our new black kitty, Little Girl aka Ultraviolet or UV.

Then we found out a friend who feeds ferals was also feeding a friendly black cat outside who showed up about a year ago. Our friend has a No-Other-Cats! sort of cat and couldn’t take Little Girl in, and would be pleased if we’d scoop her up and give her a home.

Little Girl has more reddish-brown on her than our friend had remembered, but she’s a solid black cat. She just has a blaze of ruddy color on her floofy back, and elsewhere. It’s like “tipped” fur, with a black undercoat.

Ultraviolet is a small cat

We have a feeling it’s her natural coloration, not the “rusting” that black cats can undergo in the sun, and the vet is of the same opinion. She also has red on her chest and legs, areas that don’t get so much sun exposure. And I could swear a few of her extra-long whiskers are ruddy.

She’s not a tortoiseshell, her fur isn’t brindled, or patched with discrete areas of red and black. I’ve never seen anything like this, though I’ve seen a lot of cats. I checked The Messybeast Cat Resource Archive by Sarah Hartwell and found a description of a “smoke” black cat – black with a light or silver undercoat – if I’m interpreting that correctly. Messybeast also notes that “tipped”, “shaded”, and “smoke” refer to three types of hair shaft color banding, described as being over a lighter undercoat. Again, that’s my take on it, which can always be wrong. Source: http://messybeast.com/colours.htm

I went looking for images and descriptions of the Abyssinian breed of cats because I remembered one phase as being a deep red and black combo. But, they are basically ruddy cats and the few black areas are “ticked”, in other words black is just on the top part of the hair shaft, the undercoat is red.

So where does our kitty fit into known cat colors and phases??? Known or unknown, she’s a fetching kittygirl! Not a tortie, but a diva nonetheless!

Little Ultraviolet Girl aces lounging

I’m going to call her Ultraviolet, UV for short, although like as not we’ll call out “Little Girl”, or “Sweetheart” too. The vet says she’s about ten years old and basically healthy. She’s lost all her teeth to resorption, but eats like a horse. She has a loud purr and she trills a bit. When she opens her mouth to meow almost no sound comes out. To acknowledge, I say, “I see that meow.” She’s such a purring joy of a kitty, and I hope for many years with her!

Do I hear a Phssssst from the Rainbow Bridge?

Sorry Buddy! She’s found your favorite sleeping spots and trails through the house already, but at least she hasn’t shown any interest in editing – so far.

(As is often the case, I may not be quick to post and answer comments due to too doggone much to do.)

Posted in black cats, Cat Topics, Cats | Tagged , , , , | 87 Comments

Troubling Times Bring Bud Back from the Beyond

Looking through old pictures, I feel a warmth. Bud, is that you?

Solar Bud

“Purrrrr …. hey, even I sorta like that one.”

“You in October light last year, remember?”


I blink back.

Spectral Bud

“Gah! I’m supposed to be at the Rainbow Bridge, not wearing it!”

“I need cheering up.”


“Well, here’s an unretouched picture.”

Bud the Editing Cat

“Ruhruhruhruh, MEOW! I look regal!”

Bud knows a trick or two

“RAWR, that is so court jester!”

“Uh, how do you know about court jesters?”

“You think I was going to let that Complete Works of Shakespeare just sit there while you were asleep?”

Bud reclining on purple

“I miss us. Lounging around on chilly winter days.”

“Me too.”

“But I’m really always with y’all.”

“We know, but, sigh …”

Bud sees deeply and clearly into the human heart

“You seem sad, troubled. It’s Charlottesville, isn’t it.”

“Yeah … ”

“All the animals at the Rainbow Bridge are upset and want to know, what the heck? We’re all checking on our humans. You were demonstrating for peace, love, and nonviolence in the 60s, amiright?”

“The 60s were way before you were a kitten. So how … ?”

Bud with pizazz

“Oh I went through all your old photo albums while you were napping. Lots of 60s pics,   and I was also impressed by the number of cat pictures. Y’all humans need lots more peace, love, and nonviolence and big girlfriend, you’re too activity-limited now to be in demonstrations, or even online as much as before, but your heart still can’t rest.”

“I’m heartsick.”

“The cats where I’m at now had good chances to study their humans for a long time. I mean, you know we’re always watching. Cats know humans are social, they should all get along. So why don’t they? Why are there hate groups?  We don’t get it.”

“We and our friends, we don’t get it either, Buddy. We love all humans, and animals too.”

“Well, we’re still watching. Keep trying. Stay hopeful. That’s all I know to say. I have to go, but I’ll be back to check on you.”

Bud begins to fade back to the rainbow bridge

“Please don’t go … I need to tell you we plan to get another cat, I’m catless and forlorn without you.”

“Phsssst. I said I’m always with you.”

“Well, yes, but,”

“Don’t you be lettin’ any new cat scratch my edits! Phsssst.”

Always in our hearts, purrrrrr

“You haven’t changed. Wait, don’t go … ”

“I can’t stay, but I do stay. Purrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.”

August, with gloom

The room cools, the sun slants and glows. Even in the forest, peace and comfort feel far away.

(It may take me some time to publish and answer comments because, eclipse, and I have energy deficits and a giant to-do list.)

Posted in Cat Topics, Cats | Tagged , | 40 Comments

A Sad Goodbye to Our Bud

budspan6 copy2

MochaBud 2001 – 2017

Bud left us a week ago. He was 16 years old and had been in kidney failure for a long time, but he was doing well on medication. But when he suddenly became really ill, and the vets told us there could be no meaningful recovery, we had to release him. Rest in peace my big, beautiful, beast of a boy. You will always be in our hearts.

Bud trilled to me in his last days although he had never been a triller. He edited valiantly and ferociously up until the last. Now I have to press on with bookwork without an Editing Cat. I’ll continue, hoping he is somewhere at the Rainbow Bridge freting over the work, trying to get his opinions across to me. It may take me some time to answer comments, my heart is so heavy.

Bud will stand sentinel for me here while I work on the book.

Posted in Book topics, Cat Topics, Cats | Tagged , , , | 144 Comments

Extreme Photo Editing; Opinions by Bud the Cat

Little Buddy, Spring 2012, gazing out at the woods

I took some time to brighten up our avatar picture recently. Deep book editing in black and white means I have to surface for air sometimes. Photo editing lets me luxuriate in bright color. I’ve also tuned up most of the photos in the following two posts. The colors are hotter than before, but I did try to stay within realistic and pictorial sense. It’s a bold new look for those photo essays; I hope y’all check ’em out:



Both posts star our late Little Buddy. The photo of him above was taken in spring 2012, almost a year after he and Annabelle made it through the tornado with us at Mom’s. Early in the mornings, I would wake and see Little Buddy reclining atop boxes near the window, drowsing and watching the woods. I’d reach for the old camera. The pictures aren’t very sharp. In photo editing, I fiddled with “curves” to make the color pop out, and played with saturation sliders. All this color splashed everywhere, and I don’t really know how it all happened – from the traces of light in the original really dark picture? Or something added by the editing programs? I’m a novice at photo editing, but I’m OK with the effusive color bursts I sometimes get, and grab. Little Buddy is now at the Rainbow Bridge; we miss him, every day. Our avatar picture came from this photo. More on that later.

An April morning, early

The picture above is before editing. The cropped version used to be the profile picture. I spiffed it up in two color schemes, and used the one you now see on this blog.

“Phsssssst! Why so much about that Othercat? You know I want to be the profile picture.” Bud glides up, then settles himself into loaf position.

“Well you were pals with Little Buddy, you remember?”

“Hisssssss. I only put up with him.”

Glorious Bud

“Here’s one of you Bud, ears up listening while you lean against a pillow, that’s why your whiskers are bunched up on one side.”

“Purrrr … I look regal … but you picture me too freakin’ bright! I look as neon as a night in Las Vegas! Not a true portrayal! Some werewolf might get me if I went around like that. Don’t you hear those werewolves yapping out in the woods? Oh I forgot, you’re not a cat, you don’t hear worth a …. ”

“I do hear them, but they’re coyotes. But what do you know about werewolves? They’re not even real.”

“I watch the same news y’all do. And that would make a good avatar pic. It flat sure glows enough.”

“Some of what we watch is just stories, Buddy. And how would you know about Las Vegas? Or neon?” Bud’s eyes slowly close and he’s asleep. I think.

Sleepy Little Buddy, photo enhanced by adding highly saturated color

Little Buddy snoozing in partial sunlight on May 21, 2013. We first sandwiched his picture with one of refracted sunlight. Recently I put it back into photo editing, and cranked up the color saturation. More about the earlier work on the picture at this link:


Little Buddy a few moments before the above picture

An unedited picture from the same day, right before Little Buddy moved into the position we see in the edited picture.

I brightened up the cropped avatar picture, saved it, and then went back to make various combinations of brightness, contrast, saturation, color balance sliders and “curves” in an ancient Photoshop program. I’m really a frustrated painter who can’t paint any more, not a photographer, so this is fun. Almost too many permutations, though!

Little Buddy, darker design

Little Buddy, lighter design

Picture of Little Buddy turned red in editing!

Serene morning with Little Buddy









Colors turning towards red in the “curves” was a big surprise! Talk about unreal! I then used the scale that changes colors and slid on to the green you see in the first photo!

Annabelle in sun

Annabelle, another of Mom’s cats, is now also at the Rainbow Bridge. A master sunsoaker, she stays in our hearts, much loved and missed. She stars in the banner picture for this website.


“Really Bud, she was your mother. And you never answered my questions. Here’s another pic of you. Purrrr now?”

Bud the Editing Cat wakes, and has plans for us

“Meow! Momcat’s still not me. Othercat. And what happens in Vegas … I want to edit the book now.”

So we will. Back later!

(There might be delays in publishing comments because this will be published right before a busy time with lots of storms with severe potential, when the computer will be off. Please bear with me, I’ll be back as soon as possible.)

Posted in Art, black cats, Cat Topics, Cats | Tagged , , , | 64 Comments