On Cats

A friend of mine is a big fan of Doris Lessing, so I offered to send her my copy of On Cats. She asked me if I’d draw or sketch a cat for her on the flyleaf, and now, many months after the request, I finally followed up on my promise. This is just a little preview, but you can see the full drawing on createthreesixty5.com. I’m hoping she doesn’t see this post as I’d like it to be a surprise…

Here’s the review I wrote about this diminutive tome when I read it back in March:

On Cats by Doris Lessing ★★★★

By the time I finished this little book, which I took many weeks to slowly peruse while I had other things going on, I was quite sorry I had come to the last page, because the story I had just read was both sublime and heartbreaking, an ode to a cat who had clearly taken a very special place in Dorris Lessing’s heart. When I got it, I wondered how it could be that a book on cats written by a Nobel Prize laureate wasn’t more popular, but then the first few pages gave me the answer. Lessing’s unflinching recollections about cats begin with those that lived in and out of their family farmhouse in Africa when she was a child. As they multiplied exponentially, with many of them going wild and then attacking the fowls, Lessing’s mother was assigned to kill a great number of them off, which makes for some gruesome and sad anecdotes—hard to take for an animal lover. By chapter 3, things become much more tolerable, even quite enchanting, with the hard living of Africa now forgotten, as we’re introduced to a beautiful new arrival in the author’s London flat:

“The kitten was six weeks old. It was enchanting, a delicate fairy-tale cat, whose Siamese genes showed in the shape of her face, ears, tail, and the subtle lines of its body. Her back was tabby: from above or the back, she was a pretty tabby kitten, in grey and cream, But her front and stomach were a smoky-gold, Siamese cream, with half-bars of black at the neck. Her face was pencilled with black—fine dark rings around the eyes, fine dark streaks on her cheeks, a tiny cream-coloured nose with a pink tip, outlined in black. From the front, sitting with her slender paws straight, she was an exotically beautiful beast. She sat, a tiny thing, in the middle of a yellow carpet, surrounded by five worshippers, not at all afraid of us. Then she stalked around the floor of the house, inspecting every inch of it, climbed up on to my bed, crept under the fold of a sheet, and was at home.”

Only a true cat lover could have written those lines, and we discover all the wonders of grey cat (mentioned above), and her standoff with black cat, most of which is quite amusing and charming, if you ignore the bits about kittens having to be gotten rid of, since apparently in these bygone days, people didn’t believe in getting their cats spayed. But when we reach the last story “The Old Age of El Magnifico”, we’re willing to forgive Lessing for taking us through the painful bits—this is a true love letter to a cat dearly beloved, which pulls at the heartstrings, and might make the reader shed a tear or two, as I did.

Chow Time for Mimi

My girl Mimi developed the cutest eating habit. No wonder she prefers tinned food over kibbles. A friend of mine was recently so fascinated when she saw Mimi doing this, she said I MUST upload a video to YouTube. Done.

She does make a bit of a mess sometimes—I wonder if she’d ever consider using utensils?

A Cozy, Homey Boxing Day

Here’s a little photo gallery of pictures I took today (click on the thumbnails to view them full-size). I hadn’t seen my collection of Christmas decorations in quite a few years, and took them out just in time for my dad and I to enjoy them on Christmas day. We had Cherry Clafoutis which was quite delicious, followed by a gift exchange and then quiet time chatting while I played around with some paint. I gave him a framed watercolour (you can see it here), and I got a giant bar of Swiss chocolate to satisfy my chocolate cravings for quite some time, along with a couple of great books; Barney’s Version by Mordecai Richler, a born and bred Mile Ender who had plenty of admirers and detractors alike and who often said that one of his goals was to write at least one book that would
be read after his death. I’m sure his wish has been fulfilled many times over since his passing in 2001. As it happens, I’ve never read him and wanted to discover his writing through this very book. I don’t know if he ever wished for movie rights too, but the soon-to-be released movie version is coming out in theatres, probably in a week or two. I also got Super Sad True Love Story which came out to glowing reviews this year. It’s written by Gary Shteyngart, another author I’ve been wanting to read for some time now.

Of course I couldn’t resist taking pictures of my kidz too. I dressed up Coco as the gift he’s truly been, since this was our very first Christmas together. He put up with our little impromptu session without grumbling although I wouldn’t say he had a ball exactly. Mimi refused to pose for me altogether, a very rare occurrence, and Ezra was just being his grumpy old self, an occurrence which is not rare in the least.

Winter Wonderland 2010

It’s been snowing for the past two days. Our first winter storm and certainly not the last. The first real snow is kind of magical, especially if you don’t have a car to dig out and drive around. Just walking around the neighbourhood in the crisp fresh air when the sidewalks have over six inches of snow and some snowbanks reach up to your waist is pretty exciting stuff. Coco’s obviously had plenty of experience with our Canadian winter over the years and seems to love it. I took him to a big field of virgin powder yesterday and though it was deeper than he is high, he was having a blast hop-running through it like a jack-rabbit, which made me laugh and laugh. Man’s best friend to be sure!

Here, a few quick snaps I took on my iPhone today during Coco’s afternoon walk. Click on the photos to view them full size.

Giving Thanks

It’s Thanksgiving here in Canada today and of course what better day to count one’s blessings? Here are just a few things for which I’m grateful right now:

My three kids, Ezra, Mimi and Coco who provide companionship and comfort.

Having my dad living just a few blocks away so I can call and say: I just made a batch of yummy cookies, but not feeling very well today so how about you come over for a quick tea and then I’ll send you home with homemade sweets?

The beautiful, sunny, blue-skyed, orange-leaved day we’re having.

The walk I had with Coco earlier who, when I take him off his leash in a large grassy area, like to run circles around me and make me laugh, and when I do, starts spinning like a top and barking with joy.

The smell of baking in the house. So homey.

Feeling well enough to believe that everything IS and WILL BE ok.

Having the desire to do things. Like walking outside, baking, making jewelry, volunteering, drawing and painting and yes, even blogging.

Again (yes I know I’m repeating myself, kinda) having Coco, Ezra and Mimi nearby who make me smile just because they exist.

LibraryThing and BookMooch, which provide me with hours of fun; to organize and re-organize my virtual library (an real obsession of late), read and write reviews, look at what other people are reading, continually expand my wishlist (now at just under 500 books) and trade books with other fellow readers.

My figure, which I’m finally happy with. I may not fit into my supper skinny jeans again, but I’m okay with that. Doesn’t hurt that just a few short walks a day helped shed a few unwanted pounds and stay that way even though I eat whatever I feel like and give in to temptation plenty.

Discovering that I CAN in fact keep plants alive, as long as they’re the sort who don’t mind being ignored for long periods of time (more about that in an upcoming
blog post).

Pics by Smiler via iPhone

Mimi Watch The Stars

Mimi & the Stars
(I posted this image on the C365 blog as well, so I hope you’ll forgive me for the cross-posting… I figure the extra yammering makes it worth the double-take…)

Just so you know, I’ve not only been neglecting this blog, but I’ve also been staying away from createthreesixty5.com. That way, nobody gets jealous of me favouring the one over the other. Because let’s face it, doing anything at all these days is just too much work; I blame it on constant migraines and attendant low spirits. Excuses excuses, I know. Today is no exception and the throbbing pain is very much present but I somehow managed to get enough motivation to participate in Illustration Friday, something I hadn’t done in much too long. Every day I tell myself I’ll draw or paint something. This time I’m very proud that I actually followed through since I promised myself that by hook or by crook I would contribute something to IF this week.

I had every intention of illustrating this image with ink and watercolours, but since I started working on my submission at the very last minute, I thought it would be faster to do a photo-illustration on Photoshop instead. It wasn’t exactly a breeze since my knowledge of Photoshop is mostly limited to photo retouching and colour-correcting, but had I taken out my paints and brushes, I would have still been at it by the week-end, and I would have missed the boat on the Star Gazing theme, which would have been a shame. I think this theme especially inspired me because stargazing is something I very much miss doing—there are very few stars visible in the city, even on a clear night. To me, the idea of stargazing also evokes fresh country air, so altogether, it’s not a bad concept to be dwelling on.

Photo-Illustration and original pic by Smiler.

p.s. the title for this post is inspired by this song by Air. For more of my past IF submissions, click here.