One of our sojourns in the overgrown area of the garden with the derelict bench. I took the time to work through many of the photos with the filters and modifications I sometimes visualize when I’m taking the photos. These are from the morning of June 16.
I would never say I take too many photos of Mimi. Mimi is my touchstone, a starting point for my creative self. I start photographing her because I love her intensely, then I continue because my visualization has been awakened and I’m following a path to a new place starting with a familiar little cat, and doing my best to reinterpret her somehow with my camera each time, to get down to that essence that is Mimi, and that is the truest representation of what I actually see.
Sounds like jargon, and in some ways it is. I don’t hear that conversation with myself any more after years of graphic design, illustration, painting, photography, writing, but it’s where it all started. If I’m taking information a customer gives to me to design their logo, I have to get there somehow. I start with awakening my creative receptors, pour information in there, let it slosh around and eventually some idea coalesces from what I give it. But the starting point is the awakening. That’s where Mimi comes in.
Each day I have creative assignments, whether it be an assignment from a design customer, a commissioned portrait, an idea for a new product or a burning inspiration for a painting or the need to paint or draw something. Each morning, while I’m cleaning litterboxes and washing breakfast dishes and making the bed those ideas are rolling around in my head screaming for attention and need a direction. At some point something will spark those receptors and my efforts turn from earnest housework to flights of fancy and out comes the camera, the quickest way to get them all started, click, click, click, frame, angle, light, composition.
Obviously I photograph all my cats, but often there is little Mimi, just being herself out in her yard, her yard, doing pretty much the same thing I’m doing: exploring, searching, interpreting, deciding. Usually I just follow what she does, though I’m walking alongside, or kneeling behind her or running ahead to lie on the ground so I can get her approaching from her eye level. She’s cool with all my antics. Sometimes I think of a photo of her I’d like to get and place her somewhere and suggest, and sometimes, legendarily, she honestly reads my mind. I must think very loudly. When it happens it’s Mimi, it’s the morning, it’s the light, but it’s also what gets my creative day started.
I do this with flowers and birds and butterflies and other things too, but it’s not the same. The fact that Mimi not only participates but enjoys it makes it a total joy for me.
The big day is coming!
We have a multiple birthday on July 26, and a homecoming celebration on July 29, the date in 2007 they all joined us here. I know The Four Housecats will be 13. Mimi, to the best of my knowledge, will be 17. They came here at such a sad time for me, but they all healed my heart before I knew it and have been a source of joy every day since then. The kids never knew anything else, but Mimi knew. And she knew as soon as I opened the box with her and her kittens that this was her final destination.
As I photograph Mimi each day, I also think of her age. It seems like forever, but reaching 17, even though I’ve had several cats live into their 20s, is where I can’t fool myself that we have forever anymore. I cherish each day, and that’s one other reason I take all these photos.
Great way to start the day, your nose in a catnip plant.
Your tail again.
I’m having my post-breakfast bath. My tail was already clean. Now just let me finish this important task.
“Thereby hangs a tail.” (Second photo.) Whenever I see a fluffy tail hanging around the house it’s usually attached to Basil.
THANKS to the person who dropped off these way cool cigar boxes yesterday! Sorry I wasn’t here to thank you in person! Can’t wait to make something unique of each of them!
(I found later it was Melody, who makes the neat soaps and who fostered a kitty for me!)
Could it be…RAIN?! There’s a wonderful cool breeze at least! Yes! Raindrops! Petrichor! (We only had a few drops.)
From the back yard and beyond.
Finally some colorful flowers! A few sprigs of phlox now that more is blooming, some bee balm that had been knocked over by something, and the very last daylily of the year.
Traditionally the vase on the table by my front door has a selection of what’s blooming in the yard, from the first blooms to the last, then a bouquet of dried flowers and leaves all through the winter.
Blooming flowers have been hard to come by this year. We had a few late freezes that stalled some plants entirely, like the hostas, which still show frost damage and had few blooms on some of the plants. Others were just delayed. The white-tailed deer have walked past their usual forage that I let grow free at the end of the yard to chew up all my perennials, including ones they’ve never touched before—tall phlox, bee balm, even the hostas that weren’t damaged, everything but the daylilies, which flourished.
Ah, that’s just what I’ve wanted to do lately! I’m going to have to get myself a kiddie pool for the back yard so I can be like the birds in their bird bath!
From around this date in past years
Is Life a Bowl of Cherries?, 2019
Six cats trying to determine if life is, in fact, a bowl of cherries. From the top center clockwise it’s Bean, Basil, Mariposa, Giuseppe, Mimi and Mewsette.
Sometimes you just get an interesting photo, like, what’s really going on here? Still doing the bowl of cherries thing.
The reason for the cherries jubilee? I stopped at the farmer’s market. Lunch, dinner, snacks, where do I start? I can’t garden this year so I buy fresh, buy local.
All the colors. Got to have some flowers. Echinacea.
All these photos were shared on Instagram first, but I don’t think anyone minds. One of these days I’d like to get a cell phone with a better camera, but until then this is what we’ve got.
Photos shared in past years
Sienna’s Cool Place, 2018
Sienna has found a cool spot in the basement and centered herself purrfectly. Really, no fancy cropping or straightening, just Sienna’s silhouette and the light coming through the glass block with some ivy on the outside. Lovely.
The above photo was first posted on Instagram too. The next two were actually taken on Sunday.
They can’t wait to get out there and explore. It’s Mimi and Mewsette, and Mewsette has no idea how big she is.
We are being watched by four housepanthers.
Mimi and I sat on the deck last evening when it rained, and eyes collected at the door. It’s Mewsette in the back, Bella on the lower left and Sunshine on the lower right. Jelly Bean is in the middle but closed his eyes, as usual.
From Previous Years
To Sleep, Perchance to Dream, 2011
Just because it’s one of my all-time favorite photos of Sunshine having a summer nap on his back…
No living creature sleeps better than a cat. Out of my cats, Mr. Sunshine, seems to sink deepest into dreamland, rolling on his back and simply collapsing into whatever heap of plushy black fur his limbs go to, toes curled, mouth open, all afternoon. I often wonder what sweet dreams his feline imagination composes for his unconscious enjoyment; he is motionless, not running or nursing or doing anything in his sleep, just slowly breathing. I imagine him imagining himself sleeping in some quiet field in the sunshine with a light breeze and birds singing.
He usually does this on top of the file cabinets in front of the window where I can turn to watch him in repose, a little tingle of jealousy in my belly; but I like what I do, I enjoy spending my days in pursuit of truth and beauty and, I’ll admit, enough almighty dollars to pay the bills, I really wouldn’t want to sleep my life away. No, I wouldn’t, and I’m happy Mr. Sunshine is here, sleeping his life away on my filing cabinets instead of some less desirable alternative.
When I first took this photo I was so angry with myself for framing it badly, not capturing the lower part of Sunshine’s head and body, and while I liked the focus on his nose and the softened focus on all else, I thought it would have been a better photo with all the rest of him in there; in fact, it might just be confusing cropped the way it was. But the photo stayed with me for days and I realized it was absolutely perfect the way I’d shot it, the nose, the curled paw, the relaxed hind paws, the tail stopped in mid swash when he fell asleep. I cropped the excess from the top—a tall, narrow image was what I’d been angling for—and left him in a heap at the bottom. As I said above, it’s one of my all-time favorites.
So Pretty With My Flower, 2017
“I am so lovely with my flower.”
Big beautiful Mewsette is lovely all the time with her green, green eyes and plushy fur, but especially with a little bit of phlox that’s growing at her level. Pink and green and white and black, what a wonderful combination!
Made in the Shade, 2016
Mimi enjoys a rest in the shade after our photo shoot this week for the June 2016 Feline Sampler Box. We haven’t been outdoors too often because of the heat and my selfish schedule, so she was very pleased to have a little time to prowl and look elegant.
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From Facebook and Instagram
That’s it, they’ve finished me off. These two have been 37 kinds of cute at the top of the stairs and I’ve taken way too many photos. Good night.
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And in our back yard, and front yard…
The Adventurous Fawn
The whitetailed deer have naturally produced a fawn but this little one isn’t interested in listening to its mom. Three times it’s shown up in our front yard, right on the sidewalk! Mom Doe is not at all happy! From yesterday…
The little fawn was in the front yard again today, and his mom was not happy! I guess he’s curious and adventurous. He walked back down to the side yard and headed for the gate and I could see how he’d escaped—it was open just enough for him to get through. He kept pacing back and forth by the fence looking in the yard, but couldn’t figure out how to get back in because it was open in the opposite direction. He couldn’t quite figure out how to get back through, in the end he did. I decided I had to close the gate so he wouldn’t get in trouble with his mom.
From last week…Some little fawn was out frolicking in the rain and turned our motion sensor porch light on. Mama Doe was not happy at all–I could hear her stomping and snorting out of view. I may have to move my bike for better views. Look under the end of the seat to see the fawn peeking at us.
And two weeks ago, the first time we saw the little one out here…And then this happened! I saw nearly all the cats lined up at the front windows, and really flat so there had to be something really good in the front yard. And it was! This year’s fawn! her mom and I think a yearling sister travel through the yards in the afternoon when it’s quiet. Look at those spots! And those ears!
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What other photos have I posted on or around this date?
Wordless Wednesday: Take Time to Smell the Flowers
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Daily Photo: Call Me Alvina, Please
You wonder why I don’t come over to you when you call my name? Didn’t you think to look a little closer at me?
No, Alvina, when Debby brought you here she thought all three of you were boys, and you were all too frightened to check under the tails that day! No wonder you gave me funny looks when I called “Alvin”!
Alvina was the shyest of the three kittens, and at this point gray Theodore and black Simon come over to me purring before I even come in the door, and greeted Dr. Michelle today without hesitating. Alvina hid behind the toilet, and she also hides at first when I come in.
Alvin’s mom Cruella was feral, and mom and brothers were trapped and taken in a week before Alvin so she spent a week outside, all alone, until Debby could manage to lure her into a trap. One week in a kitten’s life between 8 and 12 weeks is months of development in human terms, and critical for socialization. Even though she only had one extra week outside it was enough to set her back to hiding, avoiding being touched and even today cowering from my hand, although once I touch her, she’s fine and begins purring, and relaxes when I pick her up.
Oddly enough, she loves belly rubs! Today as I was picking up in their room and she was already warmed up to me I reached to pet her and she wiggled over onto her back. I rubbed up and down her belly and felt a small lump at the bottom, about where her spay scar would be. I tried to look while she was on the floor by rubbing her belly a little more, but ended up picking her up and looking closer. Indeed, it looked like a little spay scar that might have had a little twist in the stitches.
Then I turned her over and lifted her up her tail—the first time it hasn’t been tightly tucked against her bottom, and, without giving you an anatomy lesson it was clear that she was a girl. I felt around a bit too and, yep, no remnants of boy parts, and checked her brothers too. Indeed, she is a girl. So she is Alvina!
Don’t forget, she is up for adoption along with her brothers Simon and Theodore. If you are interested, comment below or send me a message!
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Posted on Facebook and Instagram
The sun won’t last, so we enjoy it while we can. Mimi naps on my outdoor desk until it’s time for me to get to work there.
And a visit from a former foster!
“Cutest photobomber ever!” Another of my former fosters checks in via his mom–no, not Piper, the house panther in front, but Simon, formerly Bert, the handsome ginger cat with deep ginger eyes in the background! So good to see!
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What other photos have I posted on or around this date?
A Rainy Morning, and…a Video, 2012
Kind of fitting for all the rain we’re having lately!
They were so darned sweet this morning when the rain was gently falling on all the leaves and the bird were tweeting their little hearts out. Mr. Sunshine and Mewsette were bathing themselves, each other and Giuseppe, who is that lazy lump between them, before settling down for a serious nap. I had originally planned to make a slideshow of the process, but decided to try out the video setting on my little camera.
It’s a little dark but you can reference the photo above to figure out who is bathing whom—apparently the settings I use for photographs don’t transfer to the video—and you can clearly hear the hiss of the rain and the tweeting birds. It was a very nice morning.
Okay, let’s see how this works…
If it doesn’t play above, here’s the link to it on my YouTube Channel (good heavens, I have a YouTube channel): http://youtu.be/vQ_FgFzm_78
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Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters Tuesday: Rescue Stories Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork Thursday: New Merchandise Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!