Summer Always Slips Away: Forest Edition

Canopy complications

Canopy complications

I’m lost in hot, green, steamy woods. Messy leaf and pine needle tangles that bounce sun around. I don’t even know how I got here; which gaze pathway got me to which photo. I know I stood at some spot in the yard. But when I go back to search out exact views, I can’t always find them.

Pine and sweetgum jamboree

Pine and sweetgum jamboree

Everyone’s looking towards fall and Halloween. Not me. Summer is the only time of year the storms don’t usually spawn tornadoes. A few pack high winds and loads of lightning, though.

OK OK Bud, here you are, with your byline as Editor.

This post edited by: Bud, Editing Cat Extraordinaire

This post edited by: Bud, Editing Cat Extraordinaire

We’re getting close to completing our book project, but Bud cat still fumes every time I dash out because I see the exact glitter I’m looking for through the window. He who has the purest concentration and can lock his gaze on a bug or lizard or an Othercat paragraph, is sputtering, “Dang, girl! We feline editors take in six times the light as y’all humans do and we don’t get distracted every time that light brightens or flickers!”

Long and leafy forest views:

Southeastern sky and forest

Southeastern sky and forest

Birds and squirrels can make their way through

Birds and squirrels can make their way through

The piney edge almost looks like wall paper

The piney edge almost looks like wall paper

Extreme leafy calm

Extreme leafy calm

All of these pictures could use some tweaking in a photo editing program. I like the effects from that, but just can’t do it right now.

The pines are my favorites.

Pine dance

Pine dance

Evershine pine

Evershine pine

Afternoon

Afternoon

The curtain is falling.

Sweetgum in summer

Sweetgum in summer

We’ll see y’all later! Hopefully soon, with pictures of flowers and skies and birds from the summer that will leave us, eventually.

 

Posted in Cats, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Cat Edits Cat Book!

Bud, Suave Editing Cat

Bud, Suave Editing Cat

BudCat and I are about to embark on the largest editing spree we’ve ever tackled. It seems I’ve written far too much for one cat and nature book. I (We) have to boil it down into two books. Bud already knows where he’ll recommend cuts – anything about OTHER cats. He’s deep into editing mode.

Spring posts will just have to wait, except for a few pictures here.

March Forest Just After a Rain

March Forest Just After a Rain

There’s actually a cinder block in this photo that I didn’t see until after I shot the pictures, because moss has crept over it, too.

The book is the story of our own cats, with research into the natural and feline science that relates to my own observations. I really hate to pull it apart by the seams. But the size is just too much to print. So, I’ll make two books. I used to cut up some of my drawings and collage them into new drawings; maybe that works with books, too. Roughly speaking, in the first book I’ll leave our stories, of black cats, tabby cats, feral cats, cats of all descriptions, with a few research highlights. The second book will be the bulk of the cat and animal research, the issues encountered with animal keeping and animal advocacy, and a few ongoing pet stories. Hopefully it will be published not too long after the first book, because it’s really a companion volume.

My co-editor is sleeping on the job:

Bud in Dreamland

Bud in Dreamland

I’ll take this opportunity to put up a few more spring pictures:

The Creek in March, high enough to have turbulence

The creek in March, high enough to have turbulence

The sky's along for the ride

The sky’s along for the ride

Ground level violet action

Ground level violet action

Whoops, he’s up again, looking really alert. He’s fixin’ to smack the stew out of some Othercat sentences with those strong paws. (Rawr!) We’ll we back …

Bud is actually purring in this picture

Bud is actually purring in this picture

Meanwhile, I have a distraction, due to a little refraction. Every afternoon I shoot special effects photos. Refraction – distraction – abstraction. Needs further editing work, which I just can’t do right now. A long-term project!

The nature of light

The nature of light

With this much distraction, Bud likes his chances for pulling off an editorial coup:

Bud is primed to edit

Bud is primed to edit

This two-volume split feels like a set-back, since I thought I was entering the final phase towards publishing. I’m going through a rough patch with the illness and at times I’m not really sure I’ll be able to do the book(s). I still have high hopes though.

These two links are further descriptions of the book:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2012/10/17/announcing-my-cat-book-meowyall-a-feline-centric-memoir/

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2014/03/10/meow-writing-fest-becomes-book-cats-respond-with-purrs-and-trills/

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Posted in Book topics, Cat Topics, Creeks, Nature | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 75 Comments

Cats Wander Plains After Tornado

Madame Curious, feral of flatland. She’s a gorgeously marbled classic tabby:

Madame Curious has bright inquisitive eyes

Madame Curious has bright, inquisitive eyes

Madame Curious was very observant

Madame Curious was very observant

Madame Curious could do the stink-eye

Madame Curious could do the stink-eye

The tall trees all went down in the tornado, on April 27th, 2011 at 5:13 pm. My late Mom’s cat Tiger was terrified; my husband saw him run out of the smashed back rooms, into the debris mass of branches, trunks, and house bits. Details of the tornado story are here:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/tornado-on-the-ground-tuscaloosa-april-27-2011-3/

In the aftermath we, as well as others, looked for cats living in the hit zone. We safe- trapped shy cats, hoping to catch Tiger, a former feral. We homed kitties who had no people, but we never found Tiger. The streets were full of talkative humans and their loud equipment for a long time; most cats only came out in the evening, or at night. I’d watch them come into view under a street-light, dark cat shapes moving quickly, on cat missions.

We still hope to find Tiger. We took care of and cherished Mom’s other two old cats, Anna and Good Old Boy, after she passed. I’d like to care for Tiger for her, too. Here is an old photo of Tiger in her house:

Tiger in Mom's house

Tiger in Mom’s house

I’m usually the only photographer on this website; but in this post, some of my husband’s pictures will be included.

When the downed trees and wrecked structures were cleared away, we were left with plains. Now when the wind gets up it wuthers – blows hard with a low roar – all around the house; there’s not much left to deflect wind. This isn’t the heath, but it feels lonely and vast, so I’m borrowing ‘wuther’.

Cats appeared in daytime once the noise level went down. The feral I named Madame Curious first appeared in autumn of 2012. She ate the food we put out, but wanted nothing to do with us. She was ear-tipped, so someone in the neighborhood had TNRed her.

She slowly became more accustomed to us. She would follow my husband around as he went about rebuilding, meowing advice to him. She came gradually closer and began to chillax up on the scaffolding. Turns out, she knew all about masonry!

Madame Curious keeps a look-out

Madame Curious keeps a look-out

High on her perch, Madame Curious began to watch him through the window.

We could now watch panoramic sunsets:

November of 2014

Sunset November of 2014

Sunset September 2014

Sunset September 2014

So did Madame the feral cat.

She's a watchful kitty, that Madame Curious

Skywatching Madame Curious

In 2014 another feral appeared, a big floofer we have never been able to trap, who must have had an eye injury in the past. Tanya Mikulas, our friend living in the front part of the house, named the black kitty One-Eyed Jack.

He and Madame Curious appeared to know each other. They walked around together and she always led him to the food. He was much more skittish around us than she was.

Jack and Madame Curious

Jack and Madame Curious

He would amble far away to be a panther in the grasslands once he knew I was watching him.

Jack wants no company

Jack wants no company

We used food to entice Madame into the house.

Madame Curious chows down

Madame Curious chows down

Jack saw Madame Curious climbing the scaffolding, so he climbed it too. They’d camp there together, or Jack would watch his pal while she sat inside. But he wouldn’t go into the house himself. Jack went away in the autumn; we know ferals will always wander off, but we were still sad.

Jack on the heights

Jack on the heights

Jack wonders, is she crazy? She walked right in

Jack wonders, is she crazy? She walked right in there

Meanwhile, another kitty came, a handsome feline adolescent who was friendly to humans. In fact, he was all over us any time we encountered him!

Porch Kitty, speaking out!

Porch Kitty, speaking out!

Porch Cat would sit for portraits

Porch Cat would sit for portraits

Madame did not approve of him; picky picky picky girl! Because of her differing reactions to two tomcats, I thought maybe she and Jack went back a long way, or might have been littermates.

Comfortable Porch Cat

Comfortable Porch Cat

Madame Curious, a tad grumpy

Y’all … really!

When he started taking over her spot on the scaffolding, we had to feed the new guy at the front of the house. Somehow we all took to calling him Porch Cat.

Young lounging Porch Cat

Young, friendly Porch Cat

Porch Cat had style!

Porch Cat had style!

Porch Cat wants to enter the residence

Porch Cat wants to enter the residence!

He talked, he lounged about the porch, he came strutting right up to us. He wanted to come inside!

Long-story-short, Tanya worked closely with Madame Curious, and became able to pet her; they bonded strongly and Madame became a contented housecat. She also took in Porch Cat, (who needed no coaxing) and other homeless cats who roamed the wreckage and fields. She and her cats moved away after her graduation.

Jack turns around, rather quickly

Jack turns around, rather quickly

Jack returned late in 2015; he’s again extremely shy, without Madame Curious to mentor him. Here’s a shot of his tail as he turns to walk away from me. Maybe one day he’ll warm up to us; some ferals sweeten; others remain wild, and wander.

I long for the inhabited forest this neighborhood used to be. I hate and fear the slightest whooshing and wuthering of wind. I wish Tiger would come back. It’s the 5th anniversary of the tornado on April 27th. I’m not over it, never will be. Adding to the gloom, April 20th is the 6th anniversary of the Gulf oil deluge.

Bud the Patient Editing Cat

Bud the Patient Editing Cat

Bud the Editing Cat likes the general feline focus, but he’s showing me how this post could be improved by replacing pictures of those other cats with pictures of Bud.

Some excellent photos of the post-tornado zone by our friend Tanya at this link:

2012 Full Moon Emerging Artist Tornado Photo Gallery

Posted in black cats, Cat Topics, Cats, Feral Cats, Tornadoes | Tagged , , , , | 78 Comments

Bud Meows at Foster Cat Chats

But the Editing Cat likes to show off

But the Editing Cat likes to show off

Bud’s looking pleased with himself because today, he’s featured as a guest on Foster Cat Chats at this link:

https://quirkycatsblog.wordpress.com/2016/03/31/guest-post-thursday-bud-the-feline-book-editor/

Buddy Foster is the handsome host cat who posts engaging articles with feline flair.

After reading Bud’s own take on his favorite topic, Bud, everyone should check out Buddy Foster’s fascinating website!

Buddy’s person Brenda also has a blog called Wonderful Words Blog, devoted to all things of interest to writers, readers, and their cats. Together, Brenda and Buddy are doing some impressive posting at two websites! Check it out here:

https://wonderfulwordsblog.wordpress.com/category/wonderful-wordsday/

It’s been a joy to meet with Brenda and Buddy online, and today Bud and I celebrate being in this wonderful community of writers, artists, photographers, bloggers!

 

Posted in Cat Topics, Cats, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 42 Comments

Enough About the Creek, Already!

So says my disgruntled Editing Cat, Bud. But Budster, I’ve gone back and worked out a geography of highlights in the 2015 autumn pictures. Phsssst! (That’s what he’s thinking.)

Watery theater of wonders

Watery theater of wonders

Starring details of prior posts are seen within, or close by, this creekside view. Just right of center you see a branch midstream, holding trapped leaves, water sloshing over them; Detail #1. I snapped away at these mad colors and currents. I thought the branch had drifted there during prior high water events, but when this closer scrutiny revealed so many downed branches in the vicinity, I felt that maybe a small tree fell near the creek. You see a long pole up on the shore, resting beside the base of the tree that splits into two trunks and always casts the large, provocative shadows on the water. The oblique shadow of the fallen trunk or branch, which wasn’t there in 2014, extends to the left of the picture. Those shadows and surrounding water wrinkles are Detail #2, which I snapped and cropped extensively. Detail # 3 is along a slightly curving line from Detail #1 towards the right, somewhere within the leaf thatch over the stony proximal bank. There was a spot where the sun glared ferociously off ripples and nearby trapped leaves. The water was low this year, so I was able to walk out on the semi-moist rocks amidst the leaves, and reel in the glitter. To the left, outside the frame of this picture, not far away there was a leaf clump including bright reds against the bank, Detail # 4; which includes riffles set beautifully aglow in the slanting afternoon sun.

This small area provided four locations of high interest, along with other scenes I chose for 2015’s first fall creek post, here:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/the-heartbreak-light-of-autumn-part-1-the-creek-with-cat/

Nice leaf catch!

Nice leaf catch!

Detail # 1, a mid-range view of the very fine underwater leaf patch, appeared in the “Heartbreak 1” link.

Afternoon glimmer

Afternoon glimmer

Closer view of Detail #1 and Detail #2 above shows how close they really are.

Closing in on the unknown

Zooming in on the unknown

Detail # 2, Just what’s in this creek, anyway? Characters seem to be immersed in the shallows, maybe creeping from under the far bank? Formerly landscapes, now ripe for pictorial invention … the stuff of animated legends about the woods … a mental leap almost like my old mixed media process, in which I used to put down color and then find the figures there, coax them out. Shown in this link:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/09/23/cat-inspected-art/

Except here I have less control … Whoa:

Weird emergence

Weird emergence

Come closer

Come closer

A few steps back ...

A few steps back …

Whew! It’s only the combination of rocky creekbed with shadows, changing as light slants through water …

Detail # 3, not shown in this post, is in both the “Heartbreak 1” link above, and in “Creek Walks” at this link:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2016/01/19/creek-walks-years-end-surprise-frog-helpful-cat/

Detail #4, also not shown in this post, is heavily featured in “Creek Walks”.

So we’ve mapped our loci of distinction for Fall 2015. I couldn’t have identified these with precision before I went back and studied the long shots. When shooting pictures, I work fast. I’ve got a limited amount of stamina, a short time I can stand up, and walk. I pay no attention to where I am, except to sort what’s beneath my feet, either land (we’re cool) or water (oops we’ve splashed in). I have a tremor and if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to keep still enough for the second it takes the camera to grab a shot.

But wait, here comes …  Here’s the creek after only one of the big rains we’ve had since October, taken December 28, 2015. Wash, rinse, repeat, reset. Enough of my fall highlight chart, already! So much for my handy guide:

High water

High water December 28, 2015

On February 6, 2016:

Relatively calm waters

Calmer waters but more flow than October

All leaves are gone, along with the downed limb that held the bright bouquet. The water is down from gully-washing level, but up higher than it was in October. The big pole by the tree, with the slanting shadow, is still there. The mischievous shadow cast by the tree is still dancin’ …

In a small area of creek and banks, every cubic foot was packed with tantalizing visual treats. What else could I have snapped if I’d walked further downstream? What if I could scramble down embankments like I used to? Further on, the bank rises above the creek and you can’t get really close for a time unless you can slide and step down the steep slope. I’ve never even been across the the creek in the location I’m photographing, to check out the view from the other side. What further adventures are out there!? Imagine the treasures on any of Earth’s zillion creeks!

Natural free-flowing creeks keep us in photo ops and mood boosts. Humans will also like the clean water we’ll be able to keep on using if we turn our attention towards preservation. Here’s my environmental essay about that:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/tributary-becoming-green-warriors-of-the-red-earth-country/

Phsssst. I’m waiting, I’m watching:

Bud, large and opinionated Editing Cat

Bud, large and opinionated Editing Cat

I thank the editor for his forbearance while I’ve gone on about the creek! He’ll be purring when we get back to feline topics. Just don’t tell him he won’t be the only cat in the posts!

Posted in Art, Cats, Creeks, Nature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 49 Comments

Creek Walks, Year’s End, Surprise Frog, Helpful Cat

Dream Creek

Dream Creek

Seeking the last autumn brightness, I looked back at October 2015 pictures. I wanted to feast on prismatic waters and bent sunrays. Instead of posting only December pics here, first we’ll go back to some peak leaf radiance to help us get through winter grays! We’ll check out ‘special effects’ we left out of the last creek post.

Bud in deep contemplation

Bud in deep editing contemplation

Stopping the presses to thank the editor for his thoughtful and everlasting suggestions. He’s wondering when we’ll get back to all-cat articles. Soon Buddy, soon.

Leafway

Leafway

One leaf rides high in the float.

Water twists light

Water twists light

Here’s where it gets weird. This is a cropped detail of the water rippling near the opposite bank. What’s lurking there? Only a phenomenon of light and color? I love the multi-color, the flashes of blue, reflected from the sky, riding on the dark shadow spaces. We always think we hear things in the water’s sound. Are we seeing things too? (Yeah I know it’s refraction, the camera picks up stuff the human eye doesn’t see, and mine is set to be a tad extra sensitive to blue. Just having a little fun. Wee woo hoo!)

Currents

Currents

The rest of the picture I took the above cropped pic from.

Last of October 2015, blue speckled leaves

Last of October 2015, blue speckled leaves and pinestraw

The leaves and pine needles are soaked and that moisture reflects the blue of the sky; the deeper water is reflecting the remaining green foliage.

A small tributary, only a part of something much larger

A small tributary, only a part of something much larger

I cropped in closer on this one, intending to examine the mysterious underbank. This was taken right before the picture with all the upper left side color; that’s how fast the light flickers, fades, brightens.

Fading light, mysteries

Fading light, mysteries

Going into the corner of this photo, there really are some mysterious, near-spooky shapes gliding around in that water by land’s edge! It’s only shadows …

Pine straw over leaves

Pine straw over leaves

Sky and trees actually included

Sky and trees actually included

Red accents

Crimson and vermillion accents

Driven to abstraction by sunken leaves.

Shimmer

Shimmer

Excitement

Excitement

Becalmed

Becalmed

 

Looking upstream

The view upstream

All this changed by December 19th, when the husband said, “Let’s go to the creek.” I agreed right away. Bad weather was ahead, and we knew we were seeing one of the last warm, calm days.

December 19th long view, creek

December 19th long view, creek

Under a shifting, partly cloudy sky, the color scheme is blunted but still retains play.

Frog

Frog

Frog, top view

Frog, top view

The frog is camped on a mossy flat rock that has become muddy.

Yellow garnish remains

Yellow garnish remains

Warm December Day

Warm December Day

Last leaves

Last leaves

On December 23 a severe weather watch was projected to last all night and into the next day. That means warm air, with an unsettled feel. Early evening, we watched fast-moving clouds moving in all directions. No one slept much. Everyone stayed on social media late into the night, edgy and restless. There’d been at least one tornado in Mississippi, we knew that much. On December 24th we learned that there had been several, involving many states; one long-track EF4 resulted in deaths, injuries, and shredded homes. Only a few degrees temperature difference in the upper atmosphere, a last minute change, had kept Alabama from having the same factors of tornado-producing turbulence overhead as Mississippi did that night.

So there was a breather on the 24th, and part of the 25th; then another watch was on for the evening and night hours. About the same time we were driving into town, there was an EF0 about five or six miles from our home.  AFAIK so far, it caused only tree damage. Zero doesn’t sound very impressive, but that’s still a 75 mph rotating wind. While on the road I saw a line between dark and light slanting down from sky to ground, but the rest of the sky next to it was darkly cloudy with no defined line on the other side to suggest a vortex. Still … tornadoes are difficult to see in this region. Not long after, an EF2 hit Midfield, Alabama, an area on the outskirts of Birmingham. Thankfully no lives were lost, but many, many homes were heavily damaged and/or destroyed. My Christmas spirit just fizzled away, I have to admit.

High water from the downpours of these weather systems caused terrible flooding over several states. We had no flooding impact, but the few last autumn leaves were no doubt washed down the creek. I haven’t seen it yet. My sustenance comes from nature as is evident from my posts, but there are also times it scares and saddens me.

Photos from the October creek walk are also here:

https://catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/the-heartbreak-light-of-autumn-part-1-the-creek-with-cat/

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Cats, Creeks, Nature, Tornadoes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 72 Comments

Blue Skies in December; Sweetgum, Pine, Cat

Sweetgum ready for its close-up

Sweetgum ready for its close-up

A few colorful leaves stayed on, and warm days lingered; a long-lasting autumn actually isn’t unusual at our southeastern US latitude. We had all the outdoor decorations we needed. The forest would not let me go, the treetops kept me zooming.

A whirl of branches, leaves

Swirling

Spot the seedpod

Spot the seedpod

The sweetgum fruits remained high on the trees; most are still up there as of early January. In the “Heartbreak Light” post they were greenish but they are now a ripe ruddy brown. Sweetgum generally isn’t a popular tree, but ours have been lighting up the place over the last few months. The green in the background is pine.

Bud is a skilled supervisor

Bud is a skilled supervisor and editor

Bud the editing cat wants his byline moved towards the top of the post. Here he supervises the sending of Christmas greetings. He has a beef because another cat appears on one of the cards. “Meow, that’s NOT me. Meow.”

Very far up at the top of a pine tree

Sunny day in the canopy

Pine cones came on strong this year! After perusing nature guides and Internet sources, I think this is Longleaf Pine. But LOL, pine identities can be perplexing, so don’t hold me to that!

About 50 feet up

About 50 feet up

The sky - a detail

The sky – a detail

Trees are close together.

In a gold light

In a gold light

Sweetgum spheres still up there.

Abundance

Abundance

Blue invaded by wispy clouds

Blue invaded by wispy clouds

Partly cloudy changes everything about the light!

Darkening and softening

Darkening and softening

Forever green

Forever green

Bright sun lights the leaves

Bright sun highlights red leaves

In January, leaves are now gone, pods are – still clinging to the upper story! I actually found one on the ground yesterday. Pine cones are staying attached to pinetops. Birds and squirrels are partaking of them. I found one pine cone on the path that looked to be chewed up.

Into and beyond the branches

Beyond the branches

I can imagine stepping onto the branches, if I was small enough. I love the density, the thicketness, the branch criss-crossings so tricky to sort, the complicated visual feast. I don’t know if the pictures appeal, or if it’s only my fancy, I just know the sights grab my glance and I’m lost, staring and searching, every time.

Moulting in style

Moulting in style

Flashy ending #1

Adrift in blue, with a light wind

Adrift in blue, with a light wind

Flashy ending #2

Leaves will crinkle and fall

Leaves will crinkle and fall

Well then, flashy ending #3

Leaves take their leave, eventually

Leaves take their leave, eventually

OK flashy ending #4

Beguiling autumn

Beguiling autumn

Stop …

Reds look redder when the sun is brighter

Reds look redder when the sun is brighter

I can’t …

The creek pictures would have made this post too long so there will be a second December post, coming soon. Then I do have to get back to the book …

 

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Posted in Cats, Nature, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 36 Comments