Editing and Non-Editing Cats, Explained

Studious Minou

Editing Cat. The first feline editor of the book I’ve just published, Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions, was our late Minou, tuxie extraordinaire and a real scholar. When I started writing the books in 2004 both volumes were woven together. So he had a complex task early on. Here Minou studies abstract expressionism to better comprehend painting, which informs so much of the prose. This wasn’t my favorite of my paintings ever – abstract expressionism just wasn’t my thing – but it’s durable, the only one of my large paintings to survive storage problems. Displayed in my late Mom’s house in the rooms wrecked by the tornado, it survived that too. Art from a later phase after I hit my stride:


Minx the Muse

Our late Minx, who graces the cover, was a Non-Editing Cat, but she was the Muse for all ages and every cat knew it. She and Minou would be so thrilled that their stories are now published! But catlike, they’d never let it show! (There are many other cats in the book, the fifteen that lived in our house over the decades, my Mom’s cats, cats of friends, cats we found homes for.)

Here’s Budster!

Editing Cat. Bud the Editing Cat, a brown and white tuxie of mind-boggling size, took charge of editing when he came along! Here he puts himself in place for a take-over! While Minou instilled the editing process with scholarship, Bud brought vigor, delivered with a RAWR.

Our beautiful Little Ultraviolet Girl

Editing Cat. After Bud left us for the Rainbow Bridge, Ultraviolet, AKA Little Girl, stepped up. She positioned herself perfectly for editing by snuggling upon me in front of the computer. She brought a sweetness to the process during the most crucial and complex editing time. She too departed for the Rainbow Bridge at the end of last summer. As that anniversary approaches, I’m really sad.

Franklin Alert

Non-Editing Cat. Has his own agenda. Our Franklin came to us last fall, after we lost UV. There was still editing to be done but he was having none of it! Standing tall to scratch the back of the computer chair was the extent of his participation. He indicates he might help with Volume 2, where he shows up. We’ll see!

Cats, both Editing and Non-Editing, are a gift. We adore Franklin! And, since cats are highly opinionated, it was a bit of a breather to have some editing time without constant, sometimes fussy, feline input. Don’t tell Franklin I said that!


Franklin chillin’

Franklin slacks off and looks adorable doing nothing!

Stay tuned! We have a lot in the works although we don’t work fast. One thing we have done, we’ve had all those ads removed from our site. Yay!

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Catwoods the Book is Out!

The cover of the cat book!

Years ago I started writing a cat book, and now, Volume 1 is out! It’s been a long slog getting this done. For me, it’s exciting but a little scary too.

That’s The Minx you see in the cover picture, taken by the hubs. I took the pic of the background greenery. If you purchase the book you’ll see a little surprise looking out at you on the spine.

The book tells of the years of fun and joy as we find our cats on the streets and in the woods, but it also has serious research about cats and other critters. There’s a chapter about current kerfluffles between bird advocates and cat advocates. It’s 364 pages, thoroughly researched, and has endnotes. There is no electronic version as books with endnotes aren’t usually published electronically, according to the publisher.

Publishing is by Borgo Publishing, a local indie publisher.

It’s available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. These are the links:


Barnes and Noble

Now you can also order it direct from the indie book store in town that is owned by the publisher! Ernest and Hadley Booksellers

It’s also on several other online mail-order sources, which I found by doing a search for the title.

Below is one a brief description of the book, one of those that sounds like someone else wrote it, but I actually wrote it myself.

Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions, Volume 1 is about a couple who rescue, adopt, and love cats in their deep woods home in the southern US. These cats are all such original characters that they make every day blissful, giddy, poetic, or even somber, the way the moods and phases of real life unfold. Leah Alford observes domestic felines indoors and later studies wildlings like foxes and raccoons who live outdoors amidst the glowing, dense leaves of the Appalachian jungle. A screaming non-entity in the night might well have been a cougar. This heavily researched volume covers cat coat color and genetics, color in nature, cat behavior and affection, multi-cat home dynamics, feral cats, spay and neuter, radial hypoplasia cats, black cat rhapsodies, and more. Communication between animals and humans is the core of Catwoods, as despite the language barrier Alford and her husband have rapport with each cat; with looks, gestures, purrs, and meaningful visual cues, the cats voice their declarations and diatribes. This first volume, which extends into the year 2004, revels in the natural world, the luxuriance of birds, insects, and yelling frogs. Covering many decades, Alford also writes of art, music, and writing in a changing South.

Below is a picture of Franklin, who is a tad peeved. He wants to know why we didn’t start with Volume 2 since that’s where he enters the picture. He doesn’t accept my explanations about time sequence, or the fact that he can’t be listed among the other cat editors since by his own choice, he’s just not an editing cat.

Franklin looking regal

Posted in black cats, Book topics, Cat Topics, Feral Cats, Nature | Tagged , , , , | 77 Comments

Summer and Cat and Trees

Franklin keeps track

Franklin can be puzzling. He’s so long-legged and limber; exactly how has he tucked himself up here? His front legs are poised in front of him, bent at the knee joint. They’re a little indistinct because I’m still working with a camera that focuses when it wants to, so we’re mostly soft focus now. The visible hind leg is extended along with his tail. I’m thinking that underneath him, he’s thrust his other hind leg far forward and he’s resting his head and neck on that hind paw we don’t see. I think the the large joint on the back leg, called the hock, is partially visible in the picture; but you have to look close.

Pines . . . some are matter of fact and some get weird.

Farther than it looks

Threading the canopy

Game of pick-up-sticks

Mimosa, way up in the air

There’s even mimosa out there!

Waving at skies

Cunning conifers

In the pines . . .

Slipping in pastel

There’s a bumper crop of pine cones this year!

Pinecones galore!

Strange fiction

Franklin, one smug cat!

Franklin has no intention of editing, but he did remind me that listening to the critters outside is one of his passions and it’s time to post some of them.

As I’ve said before, taking pictures of insects around here is called “Looking for bugs in all the wrong places.” That goes for reptiles and amphibians, too. They will not seek out the nice natural backgrounds!

A five-lined skink on some steps

Moth/butterfly, species unknown

Chilling on pasteboard, I can’t find the identity of this moth/butterfly in the guides.

Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly

At least it’s sitting on a leaf; the background is a broom.

“I’ve heard all of those,” says Franklin. “seen ’em too.”

Rescued tadpoles

The hubs scooped up these tadpoles from a transient mud puddle in a (now) treeless part of town, where the sun would have sizzled the water away before they became frogs. He transferred them to shaded waters out in the woods. I’m amazed that they look so blue! Can’t find out any mention about blue tadpoles in nature guides so far.

Blue Tadpoles

We saw a frog hopping around a week or so later!

Sunny skies

Days are often sunny . . .

Frankie looks really sweet when sun sleeping

But it’s raining a lot too . . .


Trapped in the car on a stormy evening.

That means a lot of leafy growth:

Plush foliage this year

Stay tuned, we’ll be back. Meanwhile, fade to green.

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Tributary: Becoming Green Warriors of the Red Earth Country

I’m reblogging this older environmental essay of mine for a number of reasons. There are many ongoing struggles to protect the waters of my state and nation right now. And, some newer followers who are environmentally minded have not seen this because I first posted it in 2013. Sorry, fellow cat enthusiasts, there are no cats in this. But they were always nearby when it was composed. Cats will return here soon!

Catwoods Porch Party

This essay was published in the online literary journal Steel Toe Review in August, 2012; in the Birmingham Free Press in August, 2012; and on the Friends of Hurricane Creek website in August, 2012. An earlier version placed among the top ten in the 1990 Sierra Magazine writing contest, but because only the top three were published, the only acknowledgement was to myself only. (Story begins after photos)

From autumn 2018, “Spectral Waters”:


Picture from early spring, before the snakes.


Summer air here can be felt, almost fingered, it’s so succulent with moisture. At high temperatures, it’s chokingly humid, but in more moderate weather, it’s velvet and invasive against the skin. In Alabama at the southernmost end of the Appalachians, everyone wades the water/ air mix many evenings during the warm seasons. This state has an abundance of water resources; some popular forms of water contact are boating, fishing, water…

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Gotcha!Cat Rocks Spring

Franklin’s a Gotcha!Cat

Franklin’s got me by the camera strap. My only purpose is to play with him, in his view. (He’s mewing at me now after playing fetch the wadded up paper with hubs for the last half hour.)

Wisterious Lavender

I promised wisteria . . .

Forest going wisterial

but there wasn’t much of it out our way this year, and health problems have made it harder for me to get to town.

It was on its way but time ran out . . .

All the wisteria is gone now.

Dreamy Green

The forest is going gangbusters.

I’m going to need a new camera. A few months back, bedazzled by the spring light, I stepped out to take photos moments before the hubs lost control of the garden hose. The camera and I got soaked. I dried it off but gradually it began to turn itself off now and then, and I don’t think it focuses as well and I know something’s amiss. I need to learn so much more about taking pictures any way. Replacing it will take time because things happen slowly in my world. And learning something new and digital has become more of a challenge for me.

Ascending imagination

It’s strange up there in the trees . . .

Leafy density

I love the plush depth of the wild-growing woods.

Franklin has a question

Franklin wonders why he can’t go out there.

Tiger Swallowtail with wisteria petal

I think it’s a Tiger Swallowtail, not sure. Franklin would probably chase these if he went outside. Much larger fauna might chase him.

In other news,

Iris everywhere I look

Iris came to town!

The ground was bursting!

There was always something underfoot!

Shy, unruly iris


I think someone got this with the lawn mower.

Iris kaput

This might have just up and happened, or it may have been knocked down during an evening of strong winds. Not sure. Iris doesn’t last long, it’s gone now.

“I came from town!” says Franklin.

Franklin curls up in his favorite chair

“You did Frankie! But you didn’t have your chair in town, or anyone to purr with.”

“True that. Puurrrrrrrr.”

Stay tuned, it’s industrial strength green out there now.

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Sunny Relief

Franklin takes a snooze

I just needed a sunny picture today! And Franklin knows how to make the best use of our infrequent sun puddles. Working on yet more spring pictures, stay tuned!

Posted in black cats, Cat Topics, Cats, Cats Nature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments

4-27-11 Tornado 8th Anniversary

We thought we were over it, but last September when I was in the hospital we channel flipped to the movie “Twister” during the scene when people were in the shelter during the storm. We both freaked out, and had to turn it off. The video shows why, this was what we were under that day. (I’ve never linked to a video before and it seems to want to start at the end. you may have to run it back to the start to see the whole thing.) The young guy who made it survived, fortunately. The video is remarkable but don’t try to do this, keep up with your weather and seek cover during severe weather alerts in your area.

Here’s the link to my write-up.


Here’s my late Mom’s cat, Tiger, that we lost that day. He survived and ran out of my mother’s wrecked house. We searched and searched, and never found him.

Tiger, we will always love you

Video by Jason Rosolowski. Found on youtube, (and I don’t know why it doesn’t show that at the bottom of the frame.)

(I’ve never linked to youtube before, so if I’ve done this incorrectly, someone please let me know and I’ll try to correct it.)

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