Reviews of Cat Books by Ellen Pilch

Books by Ellen J. Pilch

Ellen J. Pilch wrote the two books you see above, Prancie’s Prayer and I Am Not A Skunk. I was unable to get photos of Franklin with the books so I used Franklin’s blankie as a background sans Frankie. Ellen has also contributed to the anthology, Black Cats Tell All. Ellen’s charming blog about cats, “15 and Meowing” can be found here.

My reviews:

PRANCIE’S PRAYER by Ellen J. Pilch

A cat gets a new home at Christmas time!

It’s a cold winter and a cat has been left in a forest to fend for herself. The sad kitty roams until she finds a house where the people are outside, decorating for Christmas. She’s hesitant to approach them and curls up to sleep in the manger scene, but the next day she’s still cold, hungry, and homeless, so she begins to meow at the door.

As the story unfolds we see that the people are kind, the spirit of the Christmas season will prevail, and the cat will get a forever home. Based on the author’s experiences of adopting stray cats, the book ends on a note of sweetness. It’s an excellent story for children, showing them that even in a world that can be cold and harsh, kindness does exist. Nicolas Peruzzo’s illustrations work well with the text. This book would be good for any time of year, but of course it’s perfect for the Christmas season. Here’s the link to Amazon to get Prancie’s Prayer

I AM NOT A SKUNK by Ellen J. Pilch

Who’s out there? A skunk? Or a cat?

This story opens when a housecat is abandoned and left outside. She walks around hungry and sees some nice new people working in their yard, but . . . due to being black-and-white, she’s declared a “skunk” by one of the adults. There’s a happy ending when the child finds a way to prove that the “skunk” is really a cat.

I like this book as a story for children for several reasons. Based on the author’s own adoption of stray cats, it shows children that animals they see outside may sometimes be in need of food and homes. There are life lessons in the book, for instance, never jump to conclusions based on quick first impressions and appearances, and never doubt the intuition and ingenuity of children. The illustrations by Nicolas Peruzzo are vibrant, and I like the way he depicts cats.

I think this book would be great for households with young children, but also for adults. As an adult I thought it was both touching and funny. Here’s the link to Amazon to get I Am Not A Skunk

Franklin in dreamland

Franklin did supervise this post while lounging on me. It looks like he’s sleeping on the job, but he’s actually working hard . . .

I’d like to do more book reviews . . . there are several I have promised but I am very late, a year or two in some cases. That’s because my staying power has gone way down, I now don’t have the kind of energy I need to either read or compose writing in the evenings. That was the time when I used to get a lot done. So please bear with me if I should have done a review of anyone’s book(s) and I haven’t. I’ll try to get to everyone eventually. This also impacts my ability to get around and comment. I enjoy all the marvelous blogs I’m following and I wish I could comment on them all every day. As it stands, it’s getting harder for me to comment even once in awhile. But even if I don’t comment often or ever, if I “like” your posts it means I really do like them! I’m trying to both re-arrange my schedule and hope for the better!

Weird abstract pictures, and kittens, are coming soon, I hope!

Posted in Book topics, Cats | Tagged , , | 43 Comments

“It Was the Third of June . . .”

Franklin sun-soaking

. . . and our moods are mixed and mostly somber. We’re sorrowful about terrible events in the nation. We had hoped for a world of kindness and compassion by now.

I post this on facebook every year on June 3rd; so now I’m posting it here too. In 1967 this deftly worded mystery went to the top of the charts for four weeks. It continues to haunt. I like the first video better for vocals; the second is better for visuals, IMO. The line “There was a virus going around . . .” hits a little harder now.

I’m not used to posting videos so I hope they work okay.

. . . and, June means summer! How’d we get so green already? I said that back in April. I’m still astonished, and now mimosas are starting to bloom. So we’ll look back at pictures of another spring gone, and acknowledge the green world.

Volcanic iris:


Iris everywhere I look

Iris with spiderwort

Mystery ground cover

I got more comments on this ground cover photo on Facebook than on anything else I ever posted. It’s everywhere, and many knew more about it than I did. I misidentified it as “clover” when it’s actually oxalis rubra, or pink sorrel. It grew all over the yard of one of the hubs’ uncles, so they called it “Uncle Frank’s Weed”. I think I’ll go with that.

Pink Sorrel

Here it is with more blooms.

Profuse, tangled, entrancing

Robust foliage mixes it up

So many plants, I saw the name of one but lost track of it.

Tantalizing plants unknown to me

I can’t call the name of this one, either.

Cloudy wisteria

Wisteria on one of those gray spring days, when we had so much rain.

Rainy day violets

Mystery caterpillar

There was this caterpillar and when I tried to look it up all I found were similar critters in Europe. Everything’s hectic now so I didn’t try to look further. We don’t see nearly the number of bugs and critters we used to.

. . . here’s the greening. This was freakin’ April 9th. It happened before that, took us by surprise.

Cloud show seen through the canopy!

Fresh Green emerges to meet Evergreen

I thought you’d never get here, lol

Clouds and cobalt

Still can’t shake off the melancholy.


Lovely Shelley

One day I may do an entire post about Shelley’s unusual tail, which is tortie pattern until almost to the tip, and then changes to orange and white stripes with a black tip on the end.

Franklin with the my cat book, Catwoods

To keep Franklin happy instead of hissy, I make him lead cat for every post instead of substituting the kittens. However, the kittens will be back with a post of their own, it may take some time as I’m so busy, but meanwhile, the link to purchase my book Catwoods is still up there to the right, and on the “Order Catwoods the Book Online” page. If you are outside the US, please email (the publisher) to arrange to get a book. Sorry about the inconvenience, I hope it will be temporary.

Posted in Cats, Nature | Tagged , , , , , | 82 Comments

Catwoods Book Gets Certificate of Excellence From the Cat Writers’ Association!

Franklin is not impressed, hahaha

My book, Catwoods, Volume 1, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions, just got a Certificate of Excellence from the Cat Writers’ Association! I am stunned and over the moon! I’ve gone back to see if my name is really there! I feel so honored to be on the list with artists and writers I’ve read and enjoyed, and cited, for years. And I’m so grateful to all of the CWA, and to those members who worked on this contest. One thing is for certain, the CWA is devoted to excellence in writing, and all other media, about cats.

This is an award in itself, but later in the summer, one book from the category I’m in, NONFICTION-OTHER – I was never easy to classify, LOL, will be chosen to receive another award, the Muse Medallion. I will allow myself a little hope there but if it’s not to be, I’m certainly happy to have this one, which now appears on the right-hand sidebar of this website.

In contrast to Franklin, a friend’s cat, Primrose, has something to say:


“WTH, there is no map to the catwoods in this book.” Photo by Louise Patten, Caption by Jeff White. Used with permission.

Thanks also to all who have purchased and read my book! Here’s a link to the Amazon Catwoods page or you can go to “Order the Catwoods Book Online” page above for direct links to Ernest and Hadley or Borgo Publishing. Outside the US, for right now you have to email and they will arrange for you to get your book. The publisher has told me they are working on making changes so this will be easier in the future.

We’ll get back to spring, and kittens, soon!

Posted in Book topics, Cats | Tagged , , , , | 77 Comments

Roarin’ Creek Pics, Curated by Cat

Franklin Hears Things

When the creek’s high we humans can hear it roar from the yard but Franklin hears it from indoors, even before it rises enough to be audible to us. We had a lot of rain this year in winter and spring.

The pictures won’t necessarily be in sequence.

The next two were taken February 12, 2020. I shot through the trees  because we don’t always go to the creek in winter and spring. You wouldn’t want to slip and fall into some of these floods. Even if you don’t end up in the Gulf of Mexico, you’d have a hard time getting yourself out. The hubs calls the leaning tree on the right-hand side of the picture “The Tenacitree”. It stays there even though a lot of the earth around its roots has washed away.

Currents in a rush

Only two months ago but it feels so distant now

Another reason not to make the longer trek to the creek edge is that it gets buggier and snakeyier as spring seeps in. The next three were taken April 3, 2020:

Blue glimpse

Jazzed flood

Somber rush

The amount of blue reflected from the creek is going to depend on cloud cover, slant of sun-rays, and whichever ways the canopy is letting the light through at a given instant.

These trees are dense but there’s a creek ahead, there really is.

April 3, 2020.

Upstream moods

Looking back, in January we went down close to the creek, like we do in autumn. The stream was at high water and it was colorful.

Swift travels

Downstream had color too:

January waves

And sparkles:

Winter waves and sparkles

And more sparkles:

Wash that shore!

Winter evening’s last picture

Before I left, I took a picture through a small tree.

February 6, 2020. An overcast day, you can see the color of the silt and the sand carried by the water:

Again with the rain and the floods

Then there was April 20, 2020 …

Brilliant waves

… when we went to the flooded creek on impulse. It’s mostly reddish silt and reflected green from leaves; foliage blocks more of the sky so there were only a few traces of blue. It’s now too far for me to walk down to the tenacitree along the creekside route. Which was okay that day as the hubs found a cotton-mouth water moccasin there. Apparently floods tend to wash them up on the banks. So, we likely won’t go all the way down to the creek again until fall.

I might have missed a flood or two in this history, there were so many of them. But May was fairly dry. Now that we’re shifting into summer, next post we’ll have another look back into spring. And more kitten pictures are coming soon too!


Shelley the Gorgeous

Lovely Shelley!

Posted in black cats, Cats, Creeks, Nature | Tagged , , , , | 64 Comments

Catwoods Gets a Great Review!

Sunshine and good reviews make Franklin happy!

All the kitties, even grumpy Franklin, are celebrating the review of Catwoods by Ellen Pilch of the website “15 and Meowing”! We’re basking in the feeling of having really connected with a reader and fellow cat appreciator! That’s the best part of having a book out!

Ellen, a major cat blogger, features her own kitties in her posts. Take a look at her site, it’s charming! Ellen is a fellow member of the Cat Writers’ Association and has written two children’s books about cats, Prancie’s Prayer, and I Am Not A Skunk. I am looking forward to reading them! She also contributed to the anthology Black Cats Tell All. So check her books out! She reads a lot of cat books and does frequent reviews. You can find Ellen’s review of Catwoods here.

Find the books by Ellen Pilch on Amazon here.

Stay tuned as I’m working on lots of pictures and hope to be back soon!

Posted in black cats, Book topics, Cat Topics | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments

Feral Cats Foil Sensible Plans, Part 2

Franklin at home

Franklin, who will one day live with the kittens.

I haven’t been around kittens in a long time. They’re in perpetual motion, hard to photograph. I asked the hubs one day, do you ever go in and find them all sleeping, you know, like cats do?

I’ve never seen a litter with quite this much variation. All do have gold eyes, but we have a range of coat colors, patterns, face shapes, and fur lengths.

The kittens:

Spooky, cute overload!

Spooky, a girl, was caught by a friend a few weeks after Boss and Lynx. She’s one of the cutest little fluff-muffins I’ve ever seen, wearing her feral mom Groucho’s black and white tux. She’s named for her easily spooked nature. She had no fear of us and climbed up the hubs with the other kittens the first few weeks while Boss slapped at them all, and she enjoys untying my shoelaces. But she does not like to be petted or touched. I wonder if it’s just her feral heritage, or something neural. Since adopters usually favor outgoing kittens who don’t avoid being petted, we figured we’d need to keep her. I’ve seen her leaning up against Boss, and playing with all the other kittens. But at times while the other kittens play together, she sits in isolation, with a strange distant, un-engaged look about her. I figure she needs her siblings, they are a way towards contact with other beings. She might come around eventually and I’m willing to wait, or to be with her on her terms, always.

Stripey Kitten!

Stripey, another boy, and another girl were both caught by the hubs a week or so after Spooky. He’s a handsome mackerel tabby of the tawny sort, also sporting a tux he inherited from mom Groucho. He is actually the largest, weightiest of the kittens. He lies on his back and makes air biscuits, says the hubs. He’s friendly, big, and bold.

Moonpie shines in sun

Moonpie, the other girl, is all black like Boss. She’s exquisite and dainty. It’s hard to tell them apart unless you see them together; Boss is near twice her size. In profile you can sometimes tell because her forehead is more prominent and rounded. Her face is not quite as elongated as his. She’s smaller than any of her siblings. She’s also darker than Boss, but that doesn’t always show in pictures. In comparison, Franklin has the deepest, darkest black fur of the three black cats now in our houses. There aren’t as many pictures of Moonpie because she’s been shy, slow to get used to our presence. But she can be petted now, and will jump into a lap.

For all Spooky’s odd reticence towards touch, and Moonpie’s general shyness, both girls are really adventurous and great at climbing.

Stripey, Boss, and Moonpie

The Lynx

Young Lynx at about 4 months. He’ll be big!

Boss aloft and alert

The two black kittens, Boss and Moonpie, have the long, slim faces that suggest modern Siamese heritage, and Bluto the feral tom also has this face shape. Sasquatch the feral tom has a rounder head shape and may have some Persian in him. Bluto is also black. I haven’t been close enough to Bluto to determine if he’s dark black like Franklin or black with tabby stripes like Boss and Moonpie. Black fur, of course, could also have come from Groucho the mom.

The feral pals

Jack, Groucho, and Sasquatch.

Bluto, rambling feral visitor

Same pic as in Part 1. Bluto doesn’t come often and my new pictures of him are still in the camera.

So, do we have two dads for this litter? Except for Lynx, the definite son of Sasquatch, I have no fixed opinion, I think it could be either way. Is Sasquatch the dad of Lynx, Spooky, and Stripey, and Bluto the dad of Boss and Moonpie? Do we have the sweet romance of Groucho and Sasquatch, or a flamboyant love triangle?

Boss wants to know everything!

My favorite picture yet of Boss. Because he is the friendliest and snuggliest, I have the most pictures of him.

I am a 5-way foster fail. I’m captivated by this whole kit’n’kaboodle. I can’t part with any of them. They all need their brothers and sisters. The town is full of spring kittens needing homes, sigh. So the eventual plan is to bring all 5 home. Will Franklin accept the kittens? He is strong-willed and territorial. He will need to be watched when we try to introduce them, after having kittens and Franklin in two separate rooms exchanging scents. He’s young and active and I think he will actually enjoy having other young cats to run and play with, once the initial fireworks are over.

At six months the kittens were all spayed and neutered. The boys went first, right as the news about Covid-19 was increasing. Before the shut-down orders, thankfully our vets were already doing everything remotely, you call upon arrival and place the carriers outside the door, a staff member comes out and picks up your cats, similar routine when you pick them back up; call and they bring out your cats (or dogs or other species). Later when we took the girls, the shut-down orders were in effect for some businesses, but vets were considered essential. I’m glad we were able to get all the kittens spayed and neutered under these circumstances. Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to get Sasquatch and Bluto TNRed. That’s going to have to wait. At least we’ve been able to get Groucho spayed. Bluto doesn’t come every day and he may be being fed by someone else. When he does come, he blinks at the hubs. His fur is growing back in on his nose and he’s right handsome.


Gorgeous Shelley!

Shelley was also a street kitten that we took in. She was adopted by our friend.

Franklin finally relents and looks, but sideways

Franklin now says selling the Catwoods book is a good idea if those Othercats are coming here! We’ll need lots more cat food!

So if you’d like to order a book, click on the link at the upper right for Amazon, or check the “Buy Catwoods Online” link below the banner of Franklin to find links directly to the publisher at Borgo Publishing, or Ernest and Hadley Booksellers. If you are outside the US, email and they will arrange to get your book to you. The cats and I appreciate it!

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

Feral Cats Foil Sensible Plans, Part 1

Franklin: settled, suave, and smug

Because we are getting older and we both have some health problems, since 2014 we’ve had one indoor cat at a time in our home in the woods. When Editor Bud passed in 2017 we took in Ultraviolet, and when she too departed for the Rainbow Bridge the next year, our plan was to take in another sweet older kitty. But a friend found 10-month old, semi-feral Franklin on the streets, couldn’t keep him, and thought of us. He’s now about 2 years old.

Jack the Feral

We were also feeding one ear-tipped feral at my late Mom’s house in town, Jack, who had been there since about 2014. I think this husky fellow is a different Jack actually, with shorter fur, but the hubs thinks he’s the same cat. I’m happier when he stays in the back yard. One day I saw Jack climb the back fence and leap down on the other side. Jack, I said inwardly, don’t go out there. They may not love you like we do. Jack is unfriendly but tolerates our presence somewhat. Any ferals around can go also under the house, or use a shelter the hubs built for them.

Groucho arrives

A lot goes on cat-wise that we don’t see. And last year a black-and-white cat began showing up occasionally. I named this kitty Groucho.

Groucho lounges

Jack in repose

Groucho took to dining with Jack and hanging out with him in the same sunny, grassy spots, but wanted nothing to do with us. We saw this new kitty off and on until one day in September, when we saw that Groucho’s sides were bulging. We knew then the name should have been Groucha, but I wasn’t inclined to change it by that time. We began to see her more often. She soon slimmed down again and we knew she had kittens somewhere.

We planned to tame the kittens and place them in good homes. According to my reading you really need to start handling kittens between the ages of two to six weeks to socialize them. That would have meant crawling under the house to find them (not really appealing, or possible), and maybe spooking Groucho into moving them somewhere else. Other nearby houses were even closer to roads, so they’d be in more danger from traffic, and we wouldn’t be able to interact with them. Even if Mom G. kept the family with us, this standoffish feral cat might not tolerate us daring to pet and scritch her kittens in the yard. The best chance we had for friendly kittens was to catch them fairly early and raise them in the rooms of the house we retain as a work and storage area. Even though current advice says it’s ideal to leave the kittens with the mom for 8 to 12 weeks, if we did that the kittens would likely be feral and unadoptable.

Feral cuties about 4 – 5 weeks of age

About mid-October when the kittens were about 4 or 5 weeks, the hubs caught the first two. I visited after the annual arts festival and took this cell phone picture.

Both were boys. The black one was the boldest and friendliest. The other one was fluffier and shyer; I named him Lynx. We’d come around to the idea that we might keep one of the kittens, and that would likely be the black one since we so love black cats. But seeing the two together, on that day we thought we’d keep both of these first two. Lynx needs his brother, I said. A friend caught the 3rd kitten about a week later, and after another week or so, the hubs caught the other two, for a total of 5 kittens. All the kittens would climb up towards his lap and that first black one he’d caught would slap at the other kittens to keep them away, taking charge of all ascending siblings. So he named that kitten Boss.

Groucho was later spayed with the help of a local Spay-Neuter program and our great vets. We’d been feeding her in the unset trap and the first time we set it, she walked right in.

Sasquatch the splendid beast

This magnificent feral fellow showed himself after a few months. We assumed he was male due to his general stockiness. No telling how long he’d been lurking around. We declared him the father of the kittens, and I named him Sasquatch. He looks like he has Maine Coon, Norwegian Forest Cat, and/or Siberian Forest Cat ancestry. Groucho hangs out with him and he gets along fine with Jack, too. But he scampers away when we humans approach. If I can catch him snoozing in the sun, I can get a picture.

Bluto or Brutus

Then recently, this ragged guy appeared in the yard, missing some fur from tomcat fights, no doubt. Again we figure he’s a boy since he’s built like a tank. At first I called him Bruiser, and the hubs later came up with Brutus and then Bluto. He’s actually not such a tough guy – he blinked at me one day – though he’s mostly avoids us and is a definite feral. And, since I’ve read that kittens in the same litter can have different fathers, he’s also a possible dad cat candidate. Notice the shape of his face as that may be important in a later post when I discuss paternity. Some of his fur is growing back in and he’s quite handsome. He gets along well with the other ferals.

Boss at about a month and a half

Boss is the bright-eyed kitten who will really look at you and try to engage with you.

Lynx at around 5 or 6 months

(This is a work and storage room that has been thoroughly churned up by kittens.)

Hmmm, whatever made me name him Lynx? LOL)

I’m pretty sure Lynx is the son of Sasquatch. Unless there’s a . . . lynx out there on the city streets . . . um, no. But it’s fascinating to me to try to figure out if these widely varied kittens all have the same dad, or not – more kitten pictures to follow in a later post.

Franklin still won’t look at my Catwoods page on Borgo Publishing

Franklin’s still not pleased with the Othercat, our late Minx, on the cover of my book Catwoods, Stories and Studies of Our Feline Companions.

Now we have four ferals in the yard to feed, and five growing kittens to support, and Franklin. So, if you’d like, please send for a copy of my book!

I’ll be back as soon as I can with more pictures. Still having to dance around getting photo editing done in spurts while we coddle finicky computer programs that don’t get along . . .

Posted in black cats, Cat Topics, Cats, Feral Cats | Tagged , , , , , | 70 Comments

Tornado 9th Anniversary

Tiger, former feral

Today is the 9th anniversary of the monster EF-4 tornado that tore up our town on April 27, 2011. The cat in the picture is my late Mom’s Tiger. He ran out of her smashed house after the storm. We never could find him, though we placed familiar odors as well as food on the porch, put up posters, searched the shelter, searched the streets, and posted him on Animals Lost and Found in Alabama Tornadoes. My lengthy write-up about the tornado is here. Some of the feral cats who showed up during the rebuilding years are showcased in Cats Wander Plains After Tornado. There’s a page listed above of tornado stuff, several anniversary articles probably under the tornado tag, and last year’s even has a video of the beast (not made by us, we had to take shelter in an interior bathroom.)

The PTSD doesn’t stop, in fact I think it gets worse as the years go on. And, we’ve had so much potentially severe weather to contend with lately. In the last few weeks there were three alerts separated only by a few days. Another may come Wednesday. They are draining because we have to make special arrangements each time. That’s part of why I haven’t shown up commenting as much as I’d like to lately on other blogs and websites. All that said, for various reasons I don’t want to say much more about the storm at this time. For one thing, I’m busy putting together some posts about even more feral cats that are now thriving at my late Mom’s house.

So for now I’d just like to express my gratitude for those who follow, like, and/or interact with my website, and also to those who have ordered my book. I just want everyone to know that I appreciate it, and I so enjoy all your blogs and websites as well. And I’m sorry that due to being chronically ill, I can’t get around the web to comment and interact as much as I’d like, even when there are no conditions favorable for severe weather predicted.

In addition, I’d like to give special shout-outs to two bloggers I either follow or have seen around, who are not feeling too well; this also goes out to anyone who struggles with illness.

The first is SherriEllen of Bella Dharma and LadyMew

We hope you are feeling better soon and send purrs! This badge was made by Pipo, Dalton, and Benji’s Petcretary at Meezers Mews and Terrioristical Woofs:

Another shout out goes to Terry at Brian’s Home, we hope he is soon feeling better too.

Stay tuned for feral cats and the kittens they brought us . . .


Posted in Feral Cats, Tornadoes | Tagged , , | 55 Comments

Cats and Flowers of a Gloomy Spring

Wisteria busting out all over


High in the Sweetgum Tree

As we all know the news is gloomy. And, many of our days have been gray. We had so much rain the creek stayed roarin’, so we didn’t make a close-up spring creek trip this year. Now it’s too buggy and soon, it may be too snakey.

These pictures won’t be edited, as I can’t do that right now. We put a bigger hard drive in the computer, for more pictures. Somehow that means Photo Shop doesn’t work; we’re working on the fix but it’s going to take time. There may be enough color in the flower pics, though I’d prefer more.

Most of these wildflowers are now gone. Spring came early and now we are all GREEN. Except the sky, it’s blue. For awhile, anyway.

Franklin lounging

Franklin enjoys the sounds and smells of active spring critters.

Unknown berries of blue appeared in January

This first color of the year in the picture above startled me, as I don’t recall seeing it in the woods before.


The blue flowers called Spiderwort were some of the first, along with the dandelions. Town usually blooms first, but dandelions popped out in both locations at once.

Dandy Lions

Dandelion puffball

A mix of flower colors and shapes


More Spiderwort on the way!

The pinks!

One part of a ginormous plant

Gray Day Aloft

The Violets!

Last year’s pine

The wintry forest floor that violets grow into; note the leaves at the top right.

The most glorious dandelion

The mad, wild, wisteria:

Wisteria with bonus butterfly or moth

I looked on the Internet and through a bug guide I have, and a perplexing number of species look like the bug in the picture. One is a UK butterfly. To me the closest is a moth called the Emerald, a member of the Nemoria species. They are partial to deciduous woodlands, which is where I saw this.


Doing the twist

Lavender excess

About to spring on a cloudy day

The Green Anole

It was like this for about three (not so) blissful weeks

Wisteria within reach

Violets going gangbusters

Shelley, tortoiseshell with white coloration, felis sylvestris catus

Lagniappe: our friend’s beautiful Shelley. No confusion about species here.

We see this and know the blooming’s about to bow out

Petals on the road meant the wisteria floral surge was ending, as of about a week ago. So I hastened to do the spring post ahead of the feral and kitten news. I may even be on time for those who still have early spring flowers.

While awaiting our latest new cat post, here’s my Catwoods book, so you can read about past years! We go back a long way! Here’s Franklin in front of Borgo Publishing, link below.

Franklin in front of the lovely Borgo Publishing site

Borgo Publishing Catwoods page

Posted in Cats, Nature | Tagged , , , , | 89 Comments

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 , , , , , , | 32 Comments