Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Mischief of Kittens 2013-2feb20

Photo taken Nov 1, 2010

Collective nouns. Traditionally there were many in English, mostly neglected or forgotten now. You may have heard of a murder of crows. Or, of course, a herd of cattle, a flock of sheep (or geese), a covey of quail.

The traditional collective noun for cats was clowder - a clowder of cats. Which happens to translate to clutter. And a clutter of cats is very appropriate as they lie around everywhere… in the bookcases, on the books… On top of my head!**

Although, going for walks with a bunch of cats, I always thought a covey of cats was appropriate for the way they eddied around my feet.

But for kittens, awake, lively kittens, boxing, or chasing each other or a bug, or busily randomizing the contents of my bedroom, (dumping over sorted boxes of papers and making a fort!) I do think a mischief of kittens is very right. (These names may not be original to me, I might have read them somewhere.)

And for innocent sweet sleeping kittens, certainly a clowder of kittens might work.

But for them all in a pile together, or next to my sides, or under my chin - a cuddle of kittens…
photo taken 2011

**Rex who still thinks he's a kitten, my kitten, insisted on sleeping on top of my head last night! (Update 2/21 — the last 2 nights.) He usually sleeps on my shoulder, leaning against the side of my face. Or under the covers next to me. But last night Buddy was with us inside for the first time, so the door to the room with the woodstove could be open. And Rex did not like Buddy's being on the bed (judging from the growling).

I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt. And part sitting up against the pillows. And Rex went up on top of my head, next to the pillow, and slept there for a long time. I think it might have been a sort of King of the Castle thing, but mostly "Mine - grrr".

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Friday, April 19, 2013

Fraidy-cat Rexie

This is Rex's hiding place. 

All one summer, his first summer, he was afraid of the floor. He would walk very warily, looking everywhere for things that might be coming after him, or jump and run quickly across the dangerous crossings…

His sisters were locked up separately. And it took me a while to realize, but it was fan season. And any little bit of paper or dust bunny might jump out and chase him!

As soon as the fans were out of the windows he started calming down. And when his sisters were out with him, they weren't scared, just rambunctious.

And then he went into heat, and had other things to think of.

And the sisters could be with him all the time, since he was a she after all. So he pretty much got over it, and last summer wasn't much afraid of the floor at all.

But for awhile there, I was dust-mopping the bedroom and hall floors every day.

I usually came and went by the interior stairs, not the door out to the upstairs porch.

But once I came in that way, and found him up here hiding behind the closet door to the left. I think it was the first time he had been up on top of this eye-level bookcase.

There might have been a scary doorbell, and I might have been wearing large clumpy shoes.

Usually the closet door is not open, and this is not very hidden.

But it is still his hiding place.

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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why I think of myself as a designer, not an artist - written July 15, 2011


Midnight Garden virtual batik - my fabric design at Spoonflower
Because one design inspiration gets used many times, in many forms, rather than being a one-of-a-kind artistic piece.

For instance, I did a stylized cat drawing in the '70s as letter paper. Then in the '80s, it became a silver pierced cat pin for my mother, then I did one for myself. Then later a smaller version to have cast, for my sister. Then in about 2002 I drew around it to make a fabric-type design to use in a color-theory class exercise. Just recently I finally scanned that and did a vector drawing, and a couple of different fabric designs at Spoonflower to go with the black-and-white fabric in a previous post. And this week, colored it as a virtual batik as one of several fabrics in a skirt design.

In the fabric above, the flowers are from a batik stamp I bought. It went through a couple of fabric-design versions. Then, for a limited palette contest a few months ago, I did this virtual-batik look with this new repeat. (Not these colors.)

I liked it, but wasn't quite happy with it. Now I know why. The flowers were lonely, They needed butterflies.

(That is, variations in scale, texture, and color. The butterflies, by their orientation, also add an effect of movement to the design.)

The butterflies were inspired by a butterfly picture outline, but I redesigned all the interior lines. I drew them in Photoshop to go with my fabric collection done from antique Japanese fabric stamps. The fine detail goes with the finely carved details in the stamps.

I did this fabric design with butterflies added for another limited-palette contest (although I left out the hot pink and orange and chartreuse). This contest was for butterfly designs. I intended to use several different butterfly drawings, but once I added this one, it was perfect.

And it just got 11th place in the contest!  My record. Lots of other people liked it too.

To see it as fabric, click the link in the title. It should be available for sale soon; I'm ordering a swatch. (2013 - now available.)

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Remembering Pandora

This is Pandora, through the window, out on the roof, a couple of years ago. On a windy day. In early spring.

If you look closely at the background, the wavery distortion in the flowering plum behind her is from the old float glass of the window, which has a water-type pattern.

Pandora was about 20 this last year. She showed up as a kitten hanging around the garage, about 2 years after I got Cheesecake and Fussy. Someone might have left her there... Carl, my housemate then, saw her. And it didn't take more than half an hour to coax her over to be picked up.

She liked Cheesecake, and followed him around. Perhaps because of the way Carl petted her, she liked to be petted more vigorously than other cats. And she liked guys. She always wanted a lot of attention if one came here.

After I had taken her to the vet for shots, we went by work to let them see her. And someone said, "She's such an elegant cat. She should have a name like Arabella or Isadora."

At my next small sewing group meeting, she spent the entire evening digging things out of everyone's sewing baskets. And Amy said "She should be Pandora!"

She was another in my list of cat names as self-fulfilling disasters. She liked to eat in the pantry, facing out, protected by the door. She learned to open all the cupboard doors - then she would go in and hang out in there. She learned to open the pull-down-snap-up door on a linen closet shelf with towels, and she would hop up into it before it snapped shut behind her.

She liked to be brushed. (And needed to be combed and clipped in shedding season.) She was one of the cats who invented  cat felting, with Cheesecake. They came and went through a hole in the screen of the balcony door, and their fur caught on the screen. Then, coming and going, they felted it into the screen! That was after I had taken fiber arts, so I noticed.

She never quite got the point of Buddy's greeting rituals, but was happy to sleep with the other cats or on the bed. If I was on my side, she'd sleep on my hip.

She squeezed under the wood stove, on the brick hearth, so I had to block it off when there was a fire in it.

20 years. I miss her.

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

A lovely bit of spring garden

I took this photo a couple of years ago in Nevada City. Must have been about this time of year, since the creeping phlox are sheets of color around town now, and some smaller tulips are blooming.

I wonder how I'd extend the season? Something vigorous, to compete with the creeping phlox, although it helps that it wants to grow over the edge, towards the main light. Re-blooming daylilies for summer, I think. Peach and wine colors... Or since this is in town, maybe no deer, (the tulips wouldn't be there if there were deer.)  Madonna lilies for late spring/early summer. A smaller-scale ornamental grass? Catmint?

What a charming visual gift to the passerby!

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Friday, April 05, 2013

Remembering Tigrr (Musketeer) written June 15, 2011 8pm

Tiger (Musketeer) on my jacket - afternoon Dec 10 2009
This is Tiger in Mom's house, after I had come back from a long picture-taking session down at the beach, and a walk.

When she took him from me (1996), I had named him Musketeer, because of his gorgeous Puss-in-Boots coloring. (And he was an exhibit in my list of cat-names-as-self-fulfilling-disasters, since as he grew older he started beating up on everyone.)

I had picked him up (literally) at the feral cat feeding station, behind where I worked, after he'd been there a couple of weeks. Clearly he wasn't wild. Mom had driven down here; I offered him, but she had turned him down. And I was glad, because I was quite fond of him.

But on the day she was leaving, after I had left for work, he jumped up into her arms - and she just took him. Didn't even leave me a note. Took my cat carrier too, although I eventually, years later, got it back.

She sent a couple of pictures of him - all ruffled after the 2-day drive, and calmed down later. And a note written from his point of view.

When I got up to her place in fall 2009, her favorite cat had had to be put down, and Tiger was coming out and sitting on laps and being friendly. He spent a lot of time on her lap at the table, and then on the bed with her. She said "Tiger is trying to help". She also said, looking at her array of pills on the table"I don't know whether I'm supposed to take these pills, or give them to the cat"... Then he started losing weight, and his eyes became totally dilated, but he apparently could still see.

The vets up there and down here did not figure out what was wrong with him, but it may have been a version of the FIP that probably killed Sugar Mouse. It has been amazing that he lasted so long, as skinny as he was. He was eating a can or more of cat food a day, or when he stopped eating that sometimes, baby food.

This week was supposed to be a trip again to Camano, but it got put off. Good thing, because I needed to be here.

Once he stopped being able to walk around, and stopped eating for the last time, I locked the others out on the balcony, put a clean t-shirt on his reflective warm pad on the kitchen floor near the heater, and tried to spend as much time in the chair nearby as I could. School over for the spring, and unemployed. I slept in the chair mostly - and came to really hate that chair. (When I'm tired I get very crabby, and that thing would easily go into an uncomfortable position, but only with great difficulty into a comfortable one - and then it wouldn't stay there.)

He was mostly asleep, but the first several days, he would wake up every couple of hours, and could drink some water put into his mouth with a syringe. Then he slept for over a day, but did wake up one final time and take a little water, the morning of the day he died.

Over all it lasted about 6 days. I wasn't there when he died, but away for a couple of hours.

We should all be so lucky, going quietly and peacefully, in our own home, not thirsty, and with company nearby.

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Thursday, April 04, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Tiger & Pandora

Tiger (Musketeer) and Pandora in chair (with Bob pillow) - taken Dec 30, 2010
Usually I have been good about posting these. This time not.

Pandora died last summer, July 17, 2012. Although she had been going downhill, and I was trying to get her to eat canned food, at the end it only was 2 days or so. I put her in the tub, with a warm pad, to have the water drip available, since she wasn't able to hold her head up to drink out of the dish. And one morning, I put her in the room with this chair, and after her sunny spot went away, she crawled across the room. So I put her out on the balcony to get a little more sun. Buddy came over and said hello/goodby. He misses his friend. She was 20, I think.

Tiger (Tigrr, Musketeer) died at the beginning of the previous summer, June 14, 2011. It was hard to believe he could last so long, a year and a half of so unbelievably skinny - and eating a can or 2 of cat food a day. Then at the end (luckily a trip I was supposed to take was rescheduled), after he stopped being able to move around, I put him on the warm pad on the kitchen floor, near this chair in the next room. For the first 4 days or so, he woke up every couple of hours, and took a little water from a syringe in his mouth. Then he was out for 1½ or 2 days, and then on his last day, woke up again and took a little water.

I spent 6 days in this chair, to be near him, but he died while I was away. I hate this chair.

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