Daily Photo: Celebrating Spring

Mimi and Mewsette look over their new back yard from the picnic table.

It’s Mimi and Mewsette Monday and we are celebrating the coming of spring this past weekend, as well as exploring the “new” back yard. Mewsette has been cautious, and I am fine with that, but so proud of her for coming all the way out to the picnic table. One of my big projects this spring, that’s been taking a few hours each weekend afternoon as well as an hour or two on warmer weekdays, is to reestablish my fence around the yard so that I can let the girls walk around and explore a bit while I watch them, but know they can’t escape into a neighbor’s yard too easily—and so that I can have my vegetable garden again for my own health, and my flower gardens for my art and photography.

Mimi is NOT happy about the fence, though—this is one of the spots where the fence was totally flat, and if she got there before me she was down in that wild area so fast, and I actually had a hard time finding her. Bear in mind, I cut down a lot of stuff on both sides of the fence so that you couldn’t even see the green of the yard in the background, or the trunk of the tree from some angles.

Mimi comes face to face with…a fence.

I’ve probably mentioned this in prior posts, but after neighbor’s trees and my own fell all over the place in the past five or six years, much of my old wire fence was flattened. Then the deer showed up. They lost their home at the top of the hill when the last half acre of greenspace contiguous to a park and a steep hillside was plowed under for more fancy houses. I love them and find them very inspiring, but I’ve worried about their welfare here since they showed up, and then began to multiply because there’s barely enough forage for one or two deer in our back yards, certainly not a family of five. Unlike other back yard deer, we don’t have woods near, no ravine or park where they can also browse, and they aren’t as big as they should be. Feeding them would not help, and they are healthier with their natural browse which they’d find on our many steep hillsides not too far from here.

Mewsette patrols the daffodils which are about ready to pop all over the yard.

Mewsette in the daffodils.

While I couldn’t repair my fences for time and finances, I gave up my vegetable garden except for things I grew on my steps and deck, until the deer and the groundhog found that too. Then they chewed down my small trees and shrubs, and all my native plants except the periwinkle, and I was left with honeysuckle and forsythia, no flowers, no butterflies. We haven’t seen the deer since the snow melted, and it could be they’ve finally decided they need more and better forage and moved on. But I’m setting up the fences with a floppy top that they generally don’t try to jump over just in case they come back. And I just realized that I haven’t taken any good photos of not only the fence, but all the work of cutting back and down and cleaning up. The girls and I will get that! And I hope I have enough comparison photos, though I disliked it so much I never photographed it very much except when it was the background of the cats as in photos of Mimi, below, or the deer.

I’m spending time on this because I worked hard over decades to build both my sustainable organic vegetable garden and my native and ornamental plantings, while maintaining a quarter of my back yard as a habitat for smaller animals. Living without these has been sad for me with something very important missing in my life, and I can’t wait to see them develop again, and photograph and paint, and eat my own food again. And spend time with my cats in the garden, like this photo of Cookie and Namir that I treasure.

The garden stewards, Namir and Cookie, and the controlled chaos of my garden in spring.
The garden stewards, Namir and Cookie, and the controlled chaos of my garden in spring.

The spring bulbs are generally deer-resistant, and must be groundhog-resistant too. Crocuses were beautiful while they lasted, there on my falling down stone wall, which I kind of like, so maybe I won’t fix it. Next the Siberian squills have started to bloom on that same falling down stone wall. This variety is about 2″ tall.

A storm rolled through on Thursday night that blew around some siding, shingles and various other things, and heavy rain came in where my roof needs to be repaired…well, replaced, so that took part of the weekend, and I also pulled out one more studio project. An old dresser I pulled out of the trash about five years ago, it’s been on my deck waiting to be fixed up and moved to my studio where those drawers will hold a lot of art supplies in a compact space. Wiped down, sanded, primer coat, finish coat, letting it dry a couple of days before I bring it in.

Something new for my studio.

How’s this for some customized frosting? I ended up with both paint and twigs in my hair, it was a great day.

Me with paint and leaves in my hair.

Mimi got some paint in her hair too! She had a great time Saturday afternoon out in the yard while I was working. When I put her up on my work table and brushed most of it the paint off of her, she went right for the cloud bed, had a bath, curled up and slept for four hours straight, even when I went back outside and then came in. It was a really good day.

And speaking of the groundhog, I found his burrow and…tossed a bucket of urine-soaked wood pellet litter into it. He moved out, or dug out the other end and left. They aren’t frightened of cats, but they are actually very fastidious animals. In fact, if they didn’t mow everything down and then climb up on my deck and the railing and eat my herbs in pots, and then tunnel along the wall under my deck as a shortcut from the side yard to the back yard so that water poured in through the basement wall, they’d be the best neighbors of all in the animal world. Totally vegetarian so no digging in trash, totally peaceful so they never fight or complain. They are silly and their kits are as cute as kittens. But I know they have a taste for fancier things because there are three yards right around me where they have nothing but grass, with overgrowth around the outside edges of the yard that groundhogs usually love, but instead they all want to live in my yard.

Years ago I did trap and remove the one who initially totally excavated underneath my deck to the point I was more concerned about two posts collapsing than I was about the water coming in. But that’s not actually legal here in Pennsylvania because rabies vector species cannot be relocated, and local populations can carry variant strains of diseases that can spread and infect another population that has little immunity to it. Wild animals that were born into and always lived in their territory know where all their resources are, and don’t easily move to another place. It’s a while before they find all the same resources and they could starve before that, plus they are entering the territory of many other animals and integrating takes a lot of time. The cat litter trick was the one that’s worked with no harm to anyone. Another one can still dig under the fence, but there’s always more cat litter.

~~~

From Instagram

Some of the photos above were on IG too, some not.

Friday: Milling around in morning sunshine, and Sunbath. Mimi, Bella, Mewsette, Sunshine, Giuseppe.

Saturday: Celebrating Spring With a Roll on Warm Concrete.
We celebrated the arrival of spring with some warm rolls on concrete and some necessary house repairs after last week’s storm. Mewsette is so silly, and she is just as soft and plushy as she looks.

 

Monday:
Monday: Full belly + warm sun = happy kitty. Bella girl.

Bella girl.

 

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From around this date in past years

Fur Sisters, 2020

two black cats in basket
Fur sisters

Two beautiful housepanthers in a yellow basket, just because. Bella is looking pretty pleased with herself. Typically she prefers cuddling with the boys (!) but who wouldn’t like to cuddle with big, soft Mewsette? I like it myself. They were napping when something woke them and they looked up. Somehow my little cell phone managed to capture them, and I’m so glad. I loved this photo right away.

The large black thing in the lower left is Jelly Bean, I think. It was quite the basket nap party.

 

Photos from around this date in previous years

A Sepia Nap, a Visit With Smokey, and More, 2019

Mewsette's Sepia Nap
Mewsette’s Sepia Nap

Mewsette followed the sun from the kitchen to the upstairs. At least that seems like the way it’s always seemed to happen when the sun leaves the kitchen doorway—it’s in the upstairs window and in the bathroom, always good for a nap after breakfast. Usually it’s Hamlet or Basil, but Mewsette had found it first. While she had a nap, I had a little photo shoot and we were both pleased with the outcome.

A silhouette

 

Can I just sit here without having my photo taken?
Can I just sit here without having my photo taken?

I love her big soft silhouette. I’ve used her for artwork before, and here we actually have eyes. Here she’s mimicking the shape of the curtain, both when she’s facing me and when she’s not. I took so many nice photos but decided to keep it to four.

Fitting into the corner.
Fitting into the corner.

From Facebook

Lunchtime. Enjoying my bowl of soup.

Lunchtime
Lunchtime

Smokey the CVS cat says hello! Looks like he chose the green glitter ball to point out his empty bowl and made himself some cold steeped catnip tea in his water bowl from a catnip toy. Actually he’s asking me why I’m late in stopping to feed and play with him today. Any time I get here seems to be too late for him. He is quite the talkative and playful guy and we hope to start letting him out of his crate for play sessions. He’s come a long way from the CVS dumpster area.

Smokey
Smokey

A little garden tour today. I’m sure my plans and Mimi’s were very different.

Mimi in th egarden.
Mimi in the garden.

And then later in the day I took one of the neighborhood feral cats to our clinic in Tarentum. Denise, who manages the dozen cats in the colony at the top of the hill, had been telling me she was concerned about a tabby and white cat who wasn’t eating normally, then seemed to be lethargic over a period of days. I contacted Margo who told me to take Mallow in. Mallow is not feral but quite friendly. If and when she heals from the illness, if she is friendly, she’ll have a chance at a forever home. But I think he’s a boy. 🙂

Mallow
Mallow

Photos from years past.

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Covering All Angles, 2018

All angles covered at the front window.
All angles covered at the front window.

Jelly Bean is watching under the spruce, Bella is watching up in the spruce, and Giuseppe is watching out in the street. They are covering all angles for the morning.

Mimi in the Garden

We have some nice days and some not so nice days. On any day, Mimi gets desperate about mid-afternoon and starts trying to lead me to a door and get me to open it. On the nicer days I really can’t resist either so we go out into the back yard where it’s sunny and quiet and we can both get some little things done in a few minutes.

My garden is still quite the “mess” though the critters like it, and Mimi doesn’t mind it either. That’s where I’m working on it, in that upper section that was the first garden I set up in this yard when I moved here. Another black cat, Kublai, kept watch over my activities in those years.

“But I don’t want to go back in!”

Mimi protests.
Mimi protests.

Mimi ignores me.

Not moving.
Not moving.

. . . . . . .

Shared in Previous Years

. . . . . . .

I Have to Stand, 2017

Mimi and Bella stole my chair!
Mimi and Bella stole my chair!

I step into the next room for a one-minute bathroom break and this is what happens. How dare I even consider asking for my chair back seeing those eyes? Just have a nap, human! Glad I could warm it up for Mimi and Bella. From March 2.

This post is kind of a catch-up for the past few days, but that can be fun. I knew this past weekend I’d be busy with trapping cats and volunteering at the clinic both days so I tried to get extra work done during the week that I’d normally do over the weekend, then Friday there was a water main break that ran down the street and poured thousands of gallons of water into my basement, which I’m still dealing with. But we’ve been here and thanks for visiting!

. . . . . . .

Shared on Facebook and Instagram

Chilling in the Studio

March 3. All 8 cats are in the studio with me today. I guess they are making sure I don’t take off and stay away all afternoon which happened twice this week when I ran errands. The room is only 8 x 10. (Hamlet is on my work table behind some things but Bean is on my lap and of course I can’t get up to photograph Hamlet.)

Jelly Bean is on my lap right now, like a warm and purring medicine ball.

Bean on my lap.
Bean on my lap.

Mimi and Bella negotiate the fleecy bed at the corner of my drafting table.

Mimi and Bella at the window.
Mimi and Bella at the window.

Basil takes a break in his bath to smile for the camera. On the floor to the right is a black blob that includes Giuseppe, Mewsette and Sunshine.

Basil on the stool and the boys on the floor.
Basil on the stool and the boys on the floor.

The Water Main Break

Water main break!
Water main break!

Couldn’t be a nicer day for a water main break. Gushing down the street, down my neighbor’s driveway into their garage and basement and then down the slope to my house where it washed under the deck and into the basement by the litter boxes and covered the floor and even more ran out into the yard. It’s fixed now, what a mess to clean up. Some pretty freaked out kitties too–they couldn’t see the water on the floor and stepped right into it. Great way to start the weekend!

. . . . . . .

Daily Photo: Paper Towel Artist! 2015

Smokie sculpts his paper towels.
Smokie sculpts his paper towels.

A new artist in the family! Smokie does a little work on a roll of paper towels in my studio. He’s quite the sculptor—I can tell he’s studied with Mewsette. He skillfully uses his teeth and all four paws to pull away all the pieces of paper towel that don’t belong there. I believe, in honor of the season, this piece is called “Snowstorm”.

A little more work...
A little more work…

A little off the end!

Now a toss in the air!
Now a toss in the air!

Now to toss it in the air and let all the loose parts fall off!

Here’s a little video of Smokie at work with Bella supervising his progress.

. . . . . . .

Daily Photo: Giuseppe and Sunshine Are Waiting…and Waiting…and Waiting… 2015

two black cats
Not sure what the drama is in this one.

I really got on a roll with these multiple photos and videos. Actually, I finally cleared enough space off my smartphone to take videos, so now I do. The multiple photos has always been an issue. 🙂

two black cats
Giuseppe looking dignified and Sunshine making fun of him behind his back?

Cats can do things I really don’t understand. I suppose Giuseppe and Sunshine had a reason for sitting on the wardrobe side by side and looking endearing and bored and a few other things, but I never figured out what that was. There was no foster food in the bathroom as there usually was when they stationed themselves outside the door. I had petted and praised and kissed them. Some time had passed and I took a few photos, and they just kept up their pantomime.

two black cats
Why does he always do that?

I’m sure sometimes they watch me and give up. “Whatever.” What makes me think I can know all they do?

two black cats
You can’t see me.

So here is a slideshow of other stills, which is probably more interesting than the video because the images are more selective. You might not expect two large, mature black cats to be cute, but they are. I apologize for the number of photos. Maybe you can puzzle out what the unspoken conversation is all about.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Here’s a little video of the two for just about a minute.

. . . . . . .

Daily Photo: Just Try To Look Intelligent.

three black cats
Just try to look intelligent, Jelly Bean.

I have no idea what they were trying to convey by all staring at me, but Jelly Bean is trying his darnedest to look intelligent and awake. He’s usually pretty sleepy-eyed, so you can tell he’s acting awake because his eyes are open, but it might be a struggle to keep them that way. Sunshine is certainly alert.

Apparently, Bean didn’t do as he was requested and Giuseppe does not look happy about it. Mr Sunshine is in the background either crying, or laughing until he cries. I can never figure these guys out. I just take the pictures.

three black cats
You really can’t do it, can you?

. . . . . . .

In the meantime here is a photo I posted on Facebook yesterday, on my birthday. And for real, they wanted to eat my blueberry muffin.

Blueberry Muffin

Well-fed carnivores want their blueberry muffin for dessert! But that’s my birthday muffin–and I’m not sharing! Thanks everyone!

three black cats
Blueberry Muffin

Other daily photos shared on this date

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Three Cats Share One Sunbeam
Three black cats sharing one sun beam.
Three black cats sharing one sun beam.

We haven’t had a whole lot of these lately!

The sun’s angle is finally changing so that we get a sliver of sun at the end of the afternoon. Mimi was the first to find it and settle, then as if drawn by some call that I couldn’t hear they each wandered in and sauntered through the sun while Mimi stayed where she was. Mr. Sunshine and Giuseppe ended up sharing it with her and, believe me, not one sparkle of that sun beam escaped their gleaming black fur.

I am transfixed by their beauty when touched by the sun.

. . . . . . .

Wordless Wednesday: Green!
black cat with asparagus fern
Mewsette sees green!

. . . . . . .

The Eyes Have It, 2010
two black cats on chair
The Eyes Have It

Not only one of my favorite photos of these two, but a momentous one…do you believe there was a time I wasn’t sure I could find a new photo of my cats each day?! Read to the bottom for more on this concept.

Mewsette and Giueseppe open their eyes briefly to be photographed, otherwise don’t move a whisker, then go back to sleep.

Just as it was on this day in 2010, this is (one of) today’s feature photo on Today, my daily photo blog. But you won’t have to go there to see what I wrote about them on that day! This was a while before I began posting daily photos of my cats in August 2010 (seems like longer than that for some reason, not out of photos yet), and I often posted more cat photos there than here on The Creative Cat.

So here is what I had to say:

Eyes are striking no matter the species, and cats’ eyes especially because they are usually very bright colors. In a black cat’s fur, they look like gems and often appear quite large in proportion to their facial features because of the contrast. Here they look like crescent moons in a deep night sky.

Mewsette and Giuseppe are brother and sister, two siblings of a litter of four I fostered and who still live with me. It’s a long story, but in the end they became such excellent art subjects for photography, sketches, painting and block prints. Even as adults, they are still close and tend to hang out in pairs or threes, and they sleep in a heap like kittens do, though they range form 10 to 13 pounds each.

While they look identical at first glance, I have always been able to see the differences in their features. Part of the fun of working with their images is to show those differences, and their eyes are one feature unique among each of them in color, shape and angle.

The light in this photo is somewhat cool coming from a north window with a lot of reflection from snow, so their eye colors are a little muted, but Mewsette, on the left, has very light, bright green eyes, the greenest of the litter, with very little yellow. Giueseppe’s, on the other hand, are a warm yellow amber, just enough orange so the yellow doesn’t appear lemon. Mewsette’s eyes are round like all her other features—face, head, paws, rounded ears, blunt nose. Giuseppe has wide oval eyes that are pointed at the corners, and he also has an elongated face with a prominent nose, large ears and a long body, as everything seems to be stretched.

I photograph them all the time and often use their images in my own designs as well as selling their images as stock photography. This litter is only the most recent in my household—I have about 30 years of cat photos and have the last ten years of my digitals on my website. You can see them in action in almost every entry on my blog The Creative Cat, and on my Marketplace blog you can see them in my Animal Sympathy Cards. I have eight galleries of them in the photo section on my website.

Black cats can be difficult to photograph, especially if you don’t like to use a flash, as I do not; it tends to reflect off of black fur a little harshly, creating a photo that has too much contrast, highlights flashed out and missing detail, shadows saturated with black, and very little in between. A good bit of bright ambient light from more than one direction helps to capture the details without flashing highlights. My camera is a digital SLR, but I still use many of the same lenses and photo techniques I used with my film SLR in opening up the F-stop as far as I could while reducing shutter speed to avoid motion blur and ensure a sharp clarity of all those details I had worked to preserve.

So there you have it, one of the entries that led me to consider posting daily photos of my cats here along with daily photos of other subjects on Today, which I had begun in June 2009. I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to find a good photo of my cats every day, or that people would get bored with them. Neither one seems to be the case!

. . . . . . .

Three Great Minds, 2013
three black cats
“Three Great Minds”

Really, sometimes they are too easy, posing in ways like this.

This is in the same place as yesterday’s three, but not the same kitties—this is Giuseppe, Mewsette and Mr. Sunshine, apparently thoroughly enjoying each others’ company.

At times like this it’s so clear they are siblings.


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black cat in Mimi walks through the buttercups and forget-me-nots.
Mimi walks through the buttercups and forget-me-nots.

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Bernadette

From health and welfare to rescue and adoption stories, advocacy and art, factual articles and fictional stories, "The Creative Cat" offers both visual and verbal education and entertainment about cats for people who love cats, pets and animals of all species.

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