Reminder: Click on Over to the New Creative Cat!

Jelly Bean and Giuseppe have been keeping some pretty late nights with me!

“Mom’s been really b-o-o-r-r-r-r-i-i-n-n-g-g lately.”

“But we’re really catching up on our sleep.”

“That’s not so bad.”

[zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz]

So while they’ve been piled up and sleeping all over my desk, while the lilacs have come and gone and the first nestlings are fledging, I’ve finally finished a project I’ve been working on for several months: moving The Creative Cat to a self-hosted site!

Where the heck have I been? Moving! But only electronically—I’ve set up The Creative Cat on a self-hosted site so read all about the new layout.

Most importantly for those of you who subscribe via e-mail, subscribers did not transfer when I moved everything to the new site. Please visit the new site and make sure you sign up for a new e-mail subscription for the new address.

I moved all content there, so all the posts and comments from the very beginning in January 2009 are there and we can continue our conversation as if nothing happened. I won’t be posting here any more, but I will leave this in place for the foreseeable future for both you and I to reference, and because, for now, all those images are still stored in this library for use on the new blog until I transfer them over, one by one…

www.thecreativecat.net See you there!


Click on Over to the New Creative Cat!

Jelly Bean and Giuseppe have been keeping some pretty late nights with me!

“Mom’s been really b-o-o-r-r-r-r-i-i-n-n-g-g lately.”

“But we’re really catching up on our sleep.”

“That’s not so bad.”

[zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz]

So while they’ve been piled up and sleeping all over my desk, while the lilacs have come and gone and the first nestlings are fledging, I’ve finally finished a project I’ve been working on for several months: moving The Creative Cat to a self-hosted site!

Where the heck have I been? Moving! But only electronically—I’ve set up The Creative Cat on a self-hosted site so read all about the new layout.

Most importantly for those of you who subscribe via e-mail, subscribers did not transfer when I moved everything to the new site. Please visit the new site and make sure you sign up for a new e-mail subscription for the new address.

I moved all content there, so all the posts and comments from the very beginning in January 2009 are there and we can continue our conversation as if nothing happened. I won’t be posting here any more, but I will leave this in place for the foreseeable future for both you and I to reference, and because, for now, all those images are still stored in this library for use on the new blog until I transfer them over, one by one…

www.thecreativecat.net See you there!


Thanks for the Kreativ Blogger Award!

Kreative Blogger Award

Thanks to Mark Wallis of The Vibes for honoring The Creative Cat with this award for “Wonderful paintings of animals and people complete with witty commentary.” I’m flattered! It’s really my cats who do the witty commentary, and, well, those paintings, sure, but if it weren’t for my felines I’d never win any awards. Lately he’s been using Instagram and his cool and colorful travels through music, art and society in Manchester, England, are real eye-candy and especially read about Sparky and other cats who have shared his life.

Okay, seven interesting facts about me…

1. Under my henna-red hair, which we discussed when I won the ABC Award, I am nearly 100% gray. Still shocks me when my roots start to come in, especially because the henna is just a little brighter than my natural chestnut color.

2. My college degree and advanced education is not in art as everyone seems to think—I have a BA in English “emphasizing creative and professional writing” (Edinboro State College didn’t have a major in writing). Later that degree helped me get a job when the person reading my resume assumed I was a good typist with all that writing I’d done (I was, 103 wpm) so I got my first job as a typesetter. Sometimes, that’s how it goes.

I’m running out of ideas already.

3. I am a Master Gardener and about 25 years ago nearly purchased a greenhouse business intending to make it into one of the first all-organic greenhouse and landscape operations in my area, starting all the plant seeds myself and using as many heirloom vegetables and plants as I could find.

4. I still garden in my back yard, and for nearly a decade I grew nearly everything I ate out of this little plot, with cold frames and raised beds, and canned and jellied and otherwise processed everything I could for winter. My yard grew shady as my neighbor’s trees grew (natural air conditioning) so it no longer produces enough and it’s still odd to go shopping for food.

Three more…

5. I work with environmental organizations to work on brochures, websites and other projects that need to be publicized according to grant requirements and also designing newsletters so I know all sorts of cool facts about how much rain water can be collected off your roof into a rain barrel and just how abandoned mine drainage is formed in old mine chambers.

6. I don’t have a television, and haven’t had one since 1993—cable became too expensive and I wasn’t watching it anyway. I listen to the radio (public radio) and recorded books, and now I can find a lot of news on the internet. No sign of a TV coming back into the house.

7. I’ve been working on a computer since 1979, yes we had computers then, just not personal computers, and data entry was done on them at colleges, one of my many work-study jobs; I continued with computers through the 80s with my “unintended career” as a typesetter and then graphic designer, and I’ve owned a personal computer since 1993.

Now for the part I am always uncomfortable about in this award practice: name seven blogs who win the award. First, how could I limit it to seven? Second, how could I explain to the ones who are not on the list?

I’m going to take the chicken way out. See that list on the right? It’s pretty well up to date. Choose any one there and visit them!


We Win the ABC Award

awesome blog conent award

Our ABC Award.

That stands for “Awesome Blog Content”, and it was awarded by Mark Wallis of The Vibes. Stop over and visit his cool and colorful travels through music, art and society in Manchester, England, and especially read about Sparky and other cats who have shared his life.

Now the fun begins: describe myself alphabetically using a word beginning with each letter of the alphabet. I’m going to include my feline partners in this and fill it out with favorite colors and foods!

Artist
Bernadette
Cats
Drawing
Eileen (is my middle name)
Flowers
Giuseppe
Henna (hair color)
Introspective
Jelly Bean
Kazmarski (my last name)
Lapis
Mimi
Nile green
Organic gardener
Poet
Quixotic
Resourceful
Sensitive
Turquoise
Ukrainian
Vivacious
Writer
Xenophile
Yarn
Zoolatrist (made that one up—”zoolatry” means “excessive devotion to animals or pets”)

Now for the part I am always uncomfortable about in this award practice: name six blogs who win the award. First, how could I limit it to six? Second, how could I explain to the ones who are not on the list?

I’m going to take the chicken way out. See that list on the right? It’s pretty well up to date. Choose any one there and visit them!


Approaching a Milestone

painting of cat

Warm Winter Sun, oil pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

I’m amazed to see I’m approaching 100,000 visits here on The Creative Cat. The pace has increased dramatically over the past few months as December and January topped at over 10,000 visits each and February nearly 12,000. So far in March daily visits have averaged 500, I would guess we’ll hit 100,000 sometime next week. I’ve placed a widget to display the number of visits in the left column so we can all watch. I’m thinking about a giveaway of some sort on that day since I’m not sure I’ll be able to tell who is the 100,000 visitor! Guess we’ll have to see when we get closer.

five black cats at basement door

We do many things together.

Not that I look at statistics just to see numbers! Actually, I rarely looked at the overall number until I noticed it was increasing so quickly, rather, I look at the statistics for individual posts and for subjects and images. I love sharing my stories and articles and creative works through my artwork and the goings-on of my household of felines and I check these numbers along with comments here and on social media to see your response and hear what people have to say.

namir's bedroom eyes

Namir

I began The Creative Cat on January 28, 2009 as I was learning ever more about Namir’s hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and I realized we didn’t have much time left to share. I wanted to begin sharing him and the rest of my household in stories and art, and from there just to see what would develop. As the inspiration for this site Namir is the kitty in the header, and I’ve included the full painting at the top of this article.

a photo of Bootsie, the gray and white cat I had growing up

My first cat, Bootsie photo © B.E. Kazmarski

Since then I’ve continued with the goal of doing pretty much what I’m doing today: sharing my personal and other rescue stories, writing articles about feline health and welfare and my and others’ experiences in pet loss and providing an online gallery for my artwork and other creative endeavors inspired by my cats and others’ animal companions.

male cardinal in snowy forsythia

Cardinal in Forsythia

Along the line I realized that many people were interested in gardening, wildlife, feeding birds and backyard wildlife habitats, so I added articles I’d written for conservation newsletters and expanded from there.

tortie cat and sculpture

Kelly, acting as studio assistant, cautiously approaches the sculpture.

In 2011 I found people were interested in reading about my process in both creating artwork and in creating products from that artwork. I added articles about my life as an artist and began seeking out other artists who create with cats and other animals and who I think you’d enjoy reading about, and writing about creative efforts from a technical standpoint so that non-artists can have a greater understanding of how we do it, and working or aspiring artists can read about anothers’ technique.

It’s all a work in progress, not only to build what I offer, but also to build myself as a creative person.

Keeping organized has been a challenge, especially once I began the daily photos in earnest, then added the daily sketches in December 2011. I am working on a complete redesign, going from just a blog template to a complete website design where categories of content will be much easier to find and follow. Categorizing has been dull but necessary. Believe me, I can’t even find things I’ve posted!

tortie cat with parsley

Cookie has Parsley Eyes.

I had been planning an “anniversary event” for January 28, and even having the new site up and running, but Cookie wasn’t well through much of December and especially January so I put these plans aside to focus on her. She was by my side, literally, through most of my creative life and while I’d hoped, and I’m sure she did as well, that she could continue with me for a few years longer as I pursue new goals, she is with me in spirit as I move on.

sketch of tortoiseshell cat on papers

Kelly Ball, colored pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

And those new pursuits will be guided, again, by your readership, comments and suggestions. For instance, Kelly’s recent rescue story “A Little Bit About Kelly” has inspired several people to ask if it will be become a book with illustrations, and really, you read my mind! Kelly is sweet but complex, and her story is not only moving but also touches on so many issues of animal care and welfare that I wanted to let it play out completely; my daily sketches of her have suggested a style of illustration to go along with the story. For Kelly’s story and other book ideas I am diligently studying POD publishing, e-books, different readers and tablets, and even recording for audio books.

watercolor of tortoiseshell cat

Colorful Kelly (same painting, photographed instead of scanned), watercolor pencil © B.E. Kazmarski

Two of my recent daily sketches, “Colorful Kelly” and “Mimi in the Middle”, brought in “likes” from everywhere, even a non-reader who just happened to be in my studio and saw them. The purpose of these sketches is multiple: to allow me the freedom of an extemporaneous piece of artwork every day, to try new media, and to present my experiments without editing for people to enjoy and comment; from there to determine what individual images and styles are popular and use that to further my experimentation and work in that medium and style, and also to develop new feline-themed products using that and similar art. I could picture both on ceramic items and asked a few of my customers what they thought would work as a product for these and coasters, trivet tiles and mugs seem to be likely. I am pricing these out through regular suppliers I already work with and looking into Zazzle and Cafepress in addition to my Etsy shop.

This feedback will be even more important to me in the future because I’ve also decided to close up my little shop in Carnegie Antiques, which had been an outlet to meeting the public and gathering feedback. I’m actually very sad to do this but business is a little too slow to justify the time spent there, and I can help the owner who is also one of my customers for design and promotion, much more by giving her back that room to display her vintage finds.

So maybe once the big day is here I’ll collect comments for 24 hours or something, and give away a $125 portrait certificate. I like that, so we’ll plan for something like that a little over 4,000 visits from now.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Wishing You Peace and Joy

cat looking at star

Star of Wonder

Whether you celebrate the ancient customs of the miracle of the sun’s return, the sacred oil that lasted eight days, the birth of your savior or any number of old and new rituals of heritage and family, my Creative Cats and I wish you peace and joy in your gatherings, travels and meals. At this darkening time of year may the star of love and friendship of family and friends, both human and animal, light your way.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


In Good Company: Cat Writers’ Association Communication Contest Awards

I couldn’t be in White Plains, NY, with all my fellow members of the Cat Writers’ Association (CWA) this Friday and Saturday, but I was there as much as possible in spirit, obsessively checking e-mail and Facebook to read news of what was happening in the workshops and social gatherings, and at the awards banquet on Saturday night. Most of all I truly missed the opportunity to socialize face to face with all these e-friends!

I am also very proud to have won four Muse Medallions, the highest honor awarded by the Cat Writers’ Association, these chosen from the awarded Certificates of Excellence announced last month. When the awards list is published, I’ll post a link so you can explore all the winners.

the creative cat

You'll recognize this one.

Read the rest of this entry »


Look at That Menu!

black cat looking upward

Ooh! Aaah!

Someday soon I’ll have the time to reorganize The Creative Cat’s content into a newsletter-style layout with a clever navigable slideshow at the top and recent articles listed in sections with little thumbnail images so you can find my content more easily.

Until I finish that new layout, I’ve actually been able to make some improvements in my menu with the template I’m currently using—not only can I link to pages on this site, I can also list categories as menu items.

cat ears on computer monitor

Cat Ears for Better Reception

Understanding from reading the page and post statistics that blogs so conveniently give us, I know that daily photos are a popular reference. They are for me, and sometimes I’ll spend more time than I want to looking for a particular photo unable to find it—and it’s my site! So the first thing I did was to revise the former page “Silly Things My Cats Do Daily Cat Photo“, which had held early highlights from when I began posting daily photos, with a reference to “Daily Photo” on the menu so you can stop by and just look at the recent daily photos by choosing “All Photos“.

photo of cat in pasta bowl

Cookie in the Pasta Bowl

Then, further, I included drop down entries under that header for “Black Cats: Mimi and the Fantastic Four“, “Tortoiseshell Cats: Cookie and Kelly“, and couldn’t pass up a special section on “Cookie’s Kitchen Escapades“. I’ll be adding a few more later, such as “seniors” and even sub-categories for each of their names so you can look at photos of your favorite kitties, but I stopped at this for now.

I’ve also added a few categories under “Pet Loss” and “Backyard Wildlife Habitat”. I need to work with my CSS coding to revise the menu layout itself so that I can add links to my portrait updates and features such as “Living Green With Pets” and “Creating with Cats” as well as articles from my guest writer, Karen Sable.

tortoiseshell cat sleeping on books

Kelly Sleeping in the Cat Library

Part of the challenge with this is making sure that everything I want to categorize is in the category I want! Back in February 2009 when I initially set up The Creative Cat I had many ideas for what I’d like to do with it but thought I’d noodle around and let it become what it should be. This means that I have categories that don’t really make sense to me nearly three years later, and posts that should be in categories I subsequently added.

I actually enjoy organizing things; finding the time for it is another! I’ll keep tinkering with this until, behind the scenes, I develop the layout I really want and move over to that. For now, take a look through and see how it works.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Mail Call

painting of cat

Warm Winter Sun, oil pastel © B.E. Kazmarski

Well, The Creative Cat has won a Certificate of Excellence in the Cat Writers Association (CWA) Communications Contest!Thank you, Namir, for inspiring me to do this!

And so has Great Rescues as a gift book, as well as the illustrations and the notebook paper, “22 Cats” in the back of the book!

two black cats looking out window

Mimi and Mr. Sunshine keep an eye on the birds.

In addition, and article, a photo and an illustration have won, “On Dying and Death, and Remembrance” in an edited version and “Birdwatching“, both published in Meow, the newsletter for the Cat Writers’ Association, and “Peaches“, the portrait I painted last year for Ingrid King and then published as one of my set of Feline Art Cards.

painting of dilute calico with amaryllis

Peaches

The award letter reads that “the standards for winning a Certificate of Excellence are very high and this award is a recognition of your outstanding work.” Also, winners of the coveted CWA Muse(TM) Medallion are chosen from among the Certificate of Excellence winners, all of which will be announced at the annual conference in November.

What a wonderful ending to a somewhat frustrating week! It’s like a reward, and all the thanks go to my family of cats, yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s.

Read more about the Cat Writers’ Association and their annual Communications Contest. If you are a writer, illustrator, videographer, artist or in any way create public communications about cats, please read up on the organization and consider becoming a member!

Congratulations to all the other winners as well, since we’ll probably all get our packages at about the same time!

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.


Cats in My Neighborhood

black cat sleeping on porch

320 Cat

I walked to and from my shop in Carnegie Antiques today, something I don’t often do since I’m usually carrying too much to walk with it. I also get into trouble with my camera, and simple errands that should take 15 minutes take two hours, and sometimes—though not today—I come home with an extra kitty. Today I just came home with photos of kitties. But a cold front came through today while I was at the shop, with heavy rains and wind, and all these kitties were outside, presumably while neighbors were at work. I could at least say “hello” and take their photo. The black kitty above is actually the last one I saw, but it’s my favorite photo of the bunch.

Tuxedo Kitty

Here is the tuxedo kitty I often see at the top of my hill—I nearly ran him over one night as he chased a mouse down the middle of the street, totally unafraid of my car. I believe he lives under a porch, not sure if he’s a stray or feral someone is caring for. I saw him ease on across a street and looked into the yard where he’d headed to see that he had caught some small creature, though I never saw what it was. He is wary enough that he stopped what he was doing to keep an eye on me, annoying human that I was.

tuxedo cat in grass

Tuxedo cat.

Boys on the Porch

I’ve seen these two frequently when I go to the top of the hill above my house to photograph the sunrise, the moon or other celestial events. The orange boy rolls around in the middle of the street as I set up my tripod, and the tabby runs over, rubs on my leg, and runs back to his porch. It seems to me they’d like their privacy back once I’m done with my foolishness.

two cats on porch

Tabby and Orange Boy

As I came farther down the sidewalk, I saw there were two dark tabbies. “This is our porch,” they say, yet give me blinky looks. This third kitty, on the left, must be new; I’ve never seen him on my walks and my house is only about five houses away on the opposite side. It’s interesting how outdoor cats seem to have their territories marked out and never leave their little space, though some cats range all over the place, even spayed females, adventurous, I guess, though they worry me.

two tabby cats

Two Tabbies

320 Cat

Then there’s 320 Cat, who I’ve never seen, and I honestly wonder if he belongs here. The porch is actually several sets of steps above the sidewalk, but I could see just the tips of his fur and knew a kitty was sleeping there, and no one appeared to be home.

black cat sleeping on porch

320 Cat

He awoke when he saw me and seemed startled and I thought he’d run, but instead he stretched and came straight toward me, talking. Then I could see his tail was missing most of its fur, he had patches missing here and there and when I petted him he felt scabby, likely a flea bit dermatitis, poor guy. His face and demeanor reminded me of Mr. Sunshine though his eyes were a lovely dark green. I petted him and we talked for a while.

scruffy black cat

Kind of scruffy.

I was just a few houses from home, but on the opposite side of the street, and I told him I needed to leave but he dutifully followed me and this is always the hard part. I can’t take him home, though I’ll keep an eye out for him in case he really is a stray who just adopted that house. I really don’t want him to follow me because I don’t want him to cross the street. I turned and told him, “No! Go back to your porch,” then turned my back on him and did my best not to look back, trying to sense where he was. At two houses away, just before I crossed the street, I turned to see him walking back up the steps to the porch at 320. I’m not convinced he belongs there or anywhere. At the rate rentals turn over in my neighborhood, I often see those left behind and often take them in and find new homes.

I’ll talk to the kids tomorrow, they know everybody’s pets. At least I know the others are cared for.

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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.