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January 30, 2010

Winter Frolick

Is there anything more adorable than a frolicking baby bear? Four new baby bears have taken up residence at the Bronx Zoo, thanks to people who care about keeping wildlife alive. Their moms were killed when they wandered too near humans, in different incidents. There's a reason every kid has her stash of stuffed bears. The real thing is amazing.

 

January 25, 2010

Cuteness Fix

For your daily cuteness fix, just go check out Zoo Borns. The cuteness never stops.

 

September 28, 2009

Color Comfort

Even — or especially — critters deserve to feel the comfort of color.

 

December 15, 2008

Doubledecker

Good things come in twos. More evidence of the sublime evolution of my cat household, which was once a scary zone if these two were near each other. Now, there's a place for everything and everything in its place.

Two Cats Getting Along 

December 12, 2008

Taking the High Road

My kitty has started using the stairs and loft I put up originally for my other kitty over a year ago — and loving it.

Cat Stairs

Naturally, I had to paint the stairs in a cool color to coordinate with my office. The stairs and loft are by my web client, Kitty Cat Loft. I loved them as soon as I saw them. On cat is very light so bounding up the stairs is easy for her. The other is 11 pounds, which isn't heavy but she is voluptuous and maybe the stairs are too close for comfort. Still, the one using it has been with me for a year and has only just started using this awesome piece of cat furniture. She hangs out on the loft and has appropriated it.

kitty cat loft

The stairs are extremely space efficient, taking up only 14" of floor space. They fit in any corner or the middle of a wall. The loft sits over any doorway. I think you could put it over a window too.

November 2, 2008

Kittygate VII: A Two-Part Series

Part I: One Lump or Two

Kittygate has been quietly working its charms the past few months. My two feline furballs have made tremendous progress, as you can see in the event below, with pretty fur lumps in very close proximity.

Kitty Cordiality

Part II: First Touch

And now for the nearly impossible: the first touch occurred the other day. It makes a kitty lump owner's heart swell to witness this from two cats who couldn't stay in the same room together. And it was all made possible by the KittyGate. I highly recommend slow introductions to all catowners who have struggled with two cats that seem to want to rip each other to shreds. It's an interesting lesson in psychology overall too, how slow but steady wins the day, as if you didn't know that already, you clever you.

First Touch for the Kitties

NOTE: To follow the KittyGate series trail, just enter KittyGate in the search box of this blog and you'll witness the whole journey, from installation to first touch. To see the gate itself, see the first entry.

October 8, 2008

It's Analog Mouse Season

Cold air has only just begun to blow in and my cats have managed to fell two mice in two days already.

Cats catching mice So far, my cats have only caught adorable little mice that look like the ones at left. They are so cute, it's incredible. Sometimes they're not dead yet but unfortunately, they usually are. It's still shocking for me and I really hope this doesn't continue and that the mice get wise that this isn't a good shelter for them.

The ways of the animal kingdom can seem brutal to us; I don't like that my cats don't leave these little creatures alone. I can tell when they're stalking but you can't see the mice so there's really nothing you can do. By the time you know about it, it's usually too late. Still, the timeless continuance of their pursuits and their hunting expertise are admirable, if the results don't please me much.

October 2, 2008

Pampered Pets

Tiki Cat For all the pet lovers out there, of which there are millions and that's just the ones I know about, Tiki Cat and Tiki Dog is another excellent food with pure ingredients and the good sense to include adorable kitschy artwork on their packaging.

A few of the better pet stores that I like to frequent and where you can find this food include:

  • Bark and Meow in Tarrytown and
  • Provisions for Pets in Bronxville (no site)

It's always good to have a pet store that carries healthy food and good looking items for your furry friends in the various neighborhoods you like to frequent. It's made my life easier that I now have superior pet stores in Brooklyn, Tarrytown and Bronxville besides forays into Manhattan where there are several.

September 7, 2008

Harry's Tour

Harry is the adorable and expressive tour guide for my client, Highland Kennels and owner/manager Andre DeGarmeaux.

Highland Kennels Dog Boarding in New Jersey

A couple shots from Harry's extensive tour with a cameo by yours truly

Photos by Susan Farley 

I get to play Harry's dropoff family in the tour, as his real life family wasn't around. Check out all the great photos online and definitely check out Highland Kennels if you need dog boarding in New Jersey — a very friendly, safe, clean, fun and loving animal kennel if ever there was one — and yes, cats and other critters are welcome too.

August 22, 2008

A Place for Everything

And everything in its place.

Kitty in Shelf

When I first got this cool bookcase, which has wavy shelves (from Design Within Reach), I specifically envisioned my cat making herself at home in its nook-like shelves. (The bookcase comes in separate shelf sections that you slide together and each section weighs 200 lbs, literally. I assembled it myself on the floor and then got some guys to help me stand it up.) Cats being independent, however, she never hopped in, even when I put a soft blanket in a shelf. However, several years later, she is hanging out in it regularly. I guess it has to do with where the bookcase now stands and other factors, such as getting away from her sister, although her sister will follow after her. At any rate, I was forced to clear out this shelf for her or else have my tops constantly askew, found on the ground etc. My feline enhances my view.

August 5, 2008

For the Fun of It

Harry the doggie is having a helluva good time.

Harry the doggie at Highland Kennels in New Jersey

Photo by Susan Farley

Harry is the spokesdoggie for my client, Andre Degarmeaux and Highland Kennels in New Jersey. We're completing a photo tour for Highland Kennels' website, hosted by Harry. This is one of my favorite shots, taken after Harry got a deluxe grooming session and had to go outside and mess himself up a bit. The superb photographer captured Harry's delight so well. This image shouts summer and vacation and playing outside.

August 3, 2008

Anthropomorphise This

Best talking cats



In case you were in any doubt as to whether or not cats are people, this should put your wondering to a stop.

July 24, 2008

Animal-Enhanced Advertising

Smart advertisers know that adding a critter to their product shots clinches the deal.

Animals in advertisingFeast your eyes on this adorable color-coordinated doe-like pooch in the CB2 room at left. Tell me he doesn't make the whole scenario several notches more interesting. Animals add so much to a product shot: humor, color and personality — in a way that nothing else can. A second runner up is using kids but since they are humans, after all, there are many more problems inherent in that approach. Animals have a sort of other-worldliness that adds to their appeal. It's as if they are saying, "Yes, we know we make this shot look so much better than it would without us but we aren't materialistic; we're just doing you a favor by enhancing your photo.”

July 20, 2008

KittyGate VI: Doubletime

Rhythms are shifting to doubletime around here.

KittyGate VI

It took almost 10 months and it's not done but my two kitties who were like oil and water are letting each other live. And it all became possible thanks to the KityGate. Trace the tip of the tail: KittyGate, KittyGate II, KittyGate III, KittyGate IV, KittyGate V. My hope is that the next installment of this saga, which I expect won't be for a little while, will actually show these guys liking each other, playing together, maybe even curled up together. Anything is possible.

Inspirational kitty art in frame and computer screen by Jim Flora.

July 19, 2008

Birds of a (Many Colored) Feather

Check out these amazingly colored birds.

Birds in Striking Colors

Pictured Left is a Paradise Tanager and Right, a Lilac-Breasted Rolle

These brazen beauties were cited by Colour Lovers, where you will find several more startling tweeties. We've all seen stunningly colored parrots. I loved seeing them when I vacationed in Aruba. But there are so many more varieties of birds attired in incredible color combinations. Nature is the consummate artist. 

July 17, 2008

Run Kitty

Modern area rugs in colorful designs

Modern Rug with Kitty ArtLast but not least in the recent onslaught of rug designs from my new rug business is this homage to my kitty. Her very feminine and curvaceous butt is recognizable to those who know and love her.

I did this drawing of my feline when she was a little kitten and everyone pointed out to me that it was definitely a female kitty. I hadn't realized, had just drawn what I saw. It's cool to see this art now make its way onto a rug design. You can never honor the kitties too much.

July 16, 2008

Rugs Are for Kitties to Twist On

Here is another of my new designs. This design also comes in a yellow/purple combination and was inspired by 1950s lampshade patterns.

Modern Rugs with a Twist

Have fun in your own house like the furball and check out the full line of our rugs grouped by motifs including painterly, graphic, rich solid colors and illustrative rug designs. Our rugs are custom made in any size and shape. This rug is a circle, which works well in a dining room and for ceiling gazing. We can make runners that turn a corner and all sorts of cool shapes. Live it up with our unique modern area rugs. Here's an image of the rug in the fuller room below.

Modern area rugs

July 11, 2008

KittyGate V: Chillin' Not Killin'

The momentum builds — KittyGate continues.

Kitty Office

They look pretty reasonable, no? These critters usually spend their time doing their own things if they're not actively being disgusted with each other but this is turning into a regular truce sort of thing now. It's too early for me to say that I'm thrilled but I am definitely excited about this progress. This is HUGE compared to what life has been like for nine months. And it all started with the erection of the KittyGate. See previous entries: KittyGate, KittyGate II, KittyGate III and KittyGate IV. For anyone who's wondering, yes, I let them stay there and didn't claim my chair back so as to relish this happy moment.

Artwork in computer screen by Jim Flora redux. 

July 10, 2008

Feng Shui and Kitties Too

Feng Shui is an ancient Japanese system to aid all aspects of life in the design and arrangement of your home. It breaks your living space into a nine section grid and advises that you focus on different aspects of your life and goals in the appropriate area of the grid.

Feng Shui Design

New bedding arrived today and Autumn gave it a test run right away. Thank goodness she approves. I have been hesitant to learn much about or to try to incorporate Feng Shui principles because, as a designer, I didn't want a system to influence me to possibly change layouts that I love. I think a lot of people feel that way initially. However, as I've learned a little bit about it, it really is fun and isn't hard to work with. It offers tips on ways to enhance your environment.

Your Wealth Corner is the upper left area of your house (when facing in from the front door). So you are advised to put tokens of wealth in that area and not to have it bogged down with things that might keep wealth from you. Your Love Corner is the upper right area of your house and the upper right corner of your bedroom and each room too. You are advised to use pink or red candles to attract love in that corner. The system is much more complicated than these simple tips but you can take it in bit by bit and it brings a fresh perspective. One of the biggest admonitions is to FREE YOURSELF OF CLUTTER. Feng Shui believes that clutter keeps all sorts of things away from us and mires us in the past and in incorrect thinking. It does feel great to clear clutter, even if it's inside a closet that no one normally sees; you can feel the clean spirit of it and that's the whole point: what you feel motivates what you do and what happens to you.

July 8, 2008

KittyGate IV: FeedingFrenzius Miraculous

Ripley's Believe It or Not is rumored to be clamoring for the rights to these snaps but you saw them here first. Miracles happen every day.

Kitties Learning to Get Along

What?, say you — I simply see a picture of two fuzzy house residents enjoying a munch break. Ah, say I — then you haven't visited these rooms of flying fur, screeching yelps and blood curdling growls ascending from the deepest basso profundo to the highest lyric soprano tones in recent times. This is the first occurrence in nine months of these two kitties being able to eat this close to each other without going nuts. Two nights in a row. Something good is in the air.

Get the whole KittyGate lowdown to date: KittyGate, KittyGate II, KittyGate III

July 7, 2008

Modern Cats

Modern Cats For those of us who think the only thing more fun to look at than kitties is kitties in cool interiors, check out the gallery at Modern Cat. Cats are not just beautifully designed; their incredible ability to relax makes them extra photogenic, not to mention inspiring examples for us human friends.

 

 

 

July 5, 2008

Picasso Face II

Autumn might be a partial reincarnation of Pablo Picasso.

Picasso Face II

Wednesday night at an informative seminar at Tekserve, Manhattan's best Mac store, I saw the great Apple ad poster on the right above featuring Picasso and — I know I'm a little obsessed but — I thought that Picasso looked a lot like Autumn, the kitty. It makes sense; they are both maniac geniuses (and I don't use that word lightly). And this is after having made the post below, previously calling her “Picasso Face” — note yellow swatch on Picasso painting separating the profile and head-on view and on Autumn's face down the middle too.

Picasso Face

So she is both muse and spirit of the creator; pretty good. If Autumn wasn't such a perfect name for her, I'd rename her Picasso. I guess it'll just have to be a nickname.

July 4, 2008

Patriotic Recycling

Recycled sweaters are the forefathers of this patriotic blanket made by Crispina.

Recycled Sweaters Blanket and PillowsThe company specializes in blankets but also offers some really cute toys and other items. The fuchsia and orange add much pizzazz to the traditional red, white and blue.

Sustainable living and products are terms I'm hearing constantly, meaning to reuse materials and create less waste. These items made from fabrics that have already served people well but can live again in beautiful pieces are a great example of smart recycling. No reason to throw something away that has tons more life left to love in it. Refurbish and refresh, baby.

Recycled Possum

Possum made from recycled materials by Crispina is ready to be loved by a new family, like yours.

Happy Independence Day 

July 4th means it really is summer now. Summer means fun. Summer means swimming. Summer means dinner while it's still light out, sometimes at Leno's Clam Bar.

Leno's Clam Shack

Leno's Clam Bar really hits the spot. The best fried clams and huge portions. Fantastic corn on the cob. This is the kind of place that will always seem nostalgic and is very American. The present owner's family bought the place in 1967 and the building has been there as a joint since the 1920s.

Summer means walks down to the tiny beach with bare legs and feet in the water. Summer just feels so darn good. Give into it. Happy summer and Happy July 4th.

July 2, 2008

KittyGate III: Comatosius Momentous

Something I thought I might never see: both my fantastic critters in comfy comatose states very near each other. Here they are both on my desk, taking a break from spitting, growling, chasing and worse. I dreamed of seeing them together like this.

Fighting Kitties Getting Along

Just so you don't think money will rain down from the sky and other improbable things are happening, there was plenty of hissing at other times of the day. Still, you'd have to call this progress.

Retrace the KittyGate scandal: KittyGate and KittyGate II

Kitty art in computer screen by Jim Flora

June 25, 2008

Mambo Kitties Do Eyeball Jazz

What could be better than groovin' kitties in jazzy colors doing the mambo? 

Jim Flora, Mambo KittiesHad to share this fantastic art posted by Moderncat.net, as it's so up my alley(cat). How interesting that this artist, Jim Flora, was working mid-century when his art is so contemporary looking. Everything old is new again, as they say. Or more accurately, great art is timeless. And kitties doing the mambo rule forever!

Great Record Album Art

Here's one more teaser image of Jim Flora's great record album designs. One critic calls his work “eyeball jazz.” I think many current illustrators have been influenced by him, even unconsciously, in which category I would include myself, without having known it, based on the style he put out there.

Interloper in the Window

What's that in the window?

Kitty in the Window

On this beautiful day, Autumn the kitty caught a breezy kitchen view she'd never found before. Check out her swishing happy tail, which is always that puffy, given her Maine Coon roots, not because she's afraid of anything, fearless trooper that she is.

June 24, 2008

Perfect Moments

In this simple moment, you stop and realize that everything is just as it should be. The air is calm. You are comfortable. You are entranced. You are meant to be just where you are doing just what you are doing in just the time and place in which you are doing it and simultaneously, you are outside of time; time has stopped.

Pefect Moment

Do you ever realize you're having a perfect moment? They can be prompted by something big or little. I've had them when relaxing with a boyfriend. I've had them looking out the window. They seem to be a bit like rest notes, being often the moment “in between” something. But I hadn't had one in a long, long time and I had one today while kissing my kitty. Her super soft fur was rubbing against my cheek, as it is wont to do, and I realized that there it was: a perfect moment. Naturally, I told her so. She seemed to concur and purred louder than ever.

Sometimes they come in batches and you can have several in one day. You realize that despite the universe's troubles and whatever may have been bugging you lately, all is right with the world. It's not as if all of a sudden, the world's problems are solved. But for one small moment, you can see that all is just as it should be, no more, no less — and breathe a sigh of relief and happiness, knowing that this is a part of what life and the privilege of consciousness is about.  

June 21, 2008

A Banner Day for Froggy

This super colorful frog is an amazing product of nature's design.

Fantastic Colorful Tree Frog

This gorgeous critter was photographed by my friend's talented father, Marty Sobel. Marty gave me permission to use this and more of his beautiful nature photos for a client's environmentally-oriented website. (The client loves the photos.) That's how froggy became a banner. He is miniscule, by the way, so don't ever doubt that great and astounding things can come in small packages. Creative in other ways too, check out Marty's main business venture: Han-D-Cut — ingenious streamlined cutters for signmakers and designers.

June 20, 2008

KittyGate II: Caught in the Act

Proof that Autumn is still a kitten as she scales the 6' door I thought I had so cleverly put up to try to acclimate my two kitties without them literally pulling each other's hair out. But Autumn is a “can do” personality and where there's a will, boy, I mean, girl, is there a way.

Scaling the cat gate

Naturally, I am impressed by her acrobatics. I had to take some pictures. It's hard to discourage her and want her to stay for a photo shoot at the same time.

Autumn scales the kitty gate

Not sure what to do next in this experiment. My helpful landlord, with whom I discussed the possibility of her scaling this even when we were putting it up, suggested putting plexiglass on the surface, which she won't be able to grip. I guess I'm going to have to if I want to keep up this experiment. I'm not ready to give up yet, although I also found a cat behaviorist I may consult and I also have a new book coming that may suggest some ways I haven't thought of to try to acclimate these two divas. At any rate, they keep up the entertainment quotient.

June 18, 2008

Dino Dines in Style
Courtesy of the Treehouse Restaurant

Dino is the very smart, sweet and gorgeously colored birdie pictured below.

Dino from City Island Treehouse Restaurant

Dino lives with Tanya and Shukri, owners of the delicious Treehouse Restaurant, here on City Island. As you can see, Dino is no slouch in the culinary department, as he enjoys his own serving of shrimp salad at a recent City Island street fair (photos by the owners' niece). Dino is a good will ambassador and tirelessly greets patrons to the Treehouse Restaurant, sitting outside most days and inside sometimes at night, at the more upscale Treehouse's Euro Cafe across the street. Dino talks a lot. Dino laughs a lot. With all his hard work welcoming guests and visitors, Dino deserves the finest in cuisine. He is a wonderful animal with a big personality.

The Treehouse is one of the few restaurants here on City Island that natives like to go to. Some of my favorite dishes include their fantastic pizza, a great side salad called Shope salad, eggplant parmigiana, spinach ravioli and eggplant rollantini. If you're not sure what to have, ask Dino. The Treehouse Euro Cafe, my favorite, is directly across the street and has no sign but be brave and venture inside if they're open. The menu is the same and the atmosphere is lovely. The Treehouse is casual; the Euro Cafe is more elegant but still very comfortable (jeans are okay). So if you're taking a day trip to City Island, the Treehouse is a good place to drop in and Dino will likely be here to greet you, surely the high spot of your outing.

Come Visit:

The Treehouse Restaurant
273 City Island Avenue, City Island, NY 10464
718-885-0806

The Treehouse Euro Cafe
274 City Island Avenue, City Island, NY 10464
718-885-0806

June 15, 2008

Our Cup Runneth Just Right

My kitty's favorite drinking vessel is mine also. She never seemed to drink water before. When I got these hand-painted goblets, I found that water tasted especially good in them. It must be something about the shape and finish and thickness. Soon, my kitty also started to like drinking water out of them. She climbs up to them on my bedside table at night.

Our Favorite Goblet at Red Elephant Gallery

Finding her favorite mug

Drinking from favorite mug from Red Elephant Gallery

Sticking her whole little head into the goblet

Finished with Goblet from Red Elephant Gallery for now

Done for now

Even animal lovers can be astounded at how “human” our critters are. They have likes, dislikes, feelings, moods and emotions just like we do. They're just better at coping with life's mixture than we are. Great-tasting goblets are by artist D. Lasser and available at Red Elephant Gallery.

June 14, 2008

Z is for Zoo

Friday I went to the zoo.

Magnificent peacock

Dazzling peacocks moseying around the grounds 

Seeing nature's vibrant colors up close is startling. What was really fun about the peacocks is that they were behaving like pigeons, walking around the picnic tables hoping for tidbits. We saw giant camels, lions and a polar bear. Turns out the Bronx Zoo is very near my home stomping ground of City Island so I intend to visit more often. We took a ride on their pleasant trolley that transports you through the gracious grounds. Here is my niece Avery with her lovely blue tongue from our lunch of science fiction-colored frozen blueberry and grape drinks with pretzels, potato chips and nachos made from what looked like the sides of taxicabs (plastic or metal combo of yellow cheeselike substance). A great time was had by all.

Avery with a blue tongue

Avery displays her peacock-challenging turquoise tongue 

June 13, 2008

Where's Thelonius?

Talk about coordinated.

Chic Camouflage

This little critter, whose name is Thelonius (yes; he is named after the great jazz musician, Thelonius Monk), came after the chair for his humans. He's a Bengal, which my cat is partially. Bengals were bred by being mixed with actual Bengal tigers but they are loving, adorable regular kitties (just expensive). They come in a spotted or swirl pattern, tend to be vocal and playful with just a touch of wildness. See more hilarious cat photos at Stuff on My Cat.  

June 9, 2008

KittyGate

Here is an experiment I'm conducting.

KittyGate

When I fostered a kitty previously, using a gate to gradually introduce him to my reigning kitty, worked beautifully. It took patience and time but by slowly widening their area of contact with each other, they were able to co-exist and even hung out together. However, this cat, who is still just a kitten really, is very feisty and knocks over and jumps over any kind of gate I could find. Plus, the first cat is terrified of her, to such an extent that we've had bad accidents. And the new cat isn't helping in that she continues to bolt towards the other one any time they are near each other.

KittyGate

Above: Autumn peers through a gate slat.

Pet gates don't come tall enough for Autumn to not jump over or knock over. I am amazed that they don't. So I tried calling screen door companies, sliding window screen installers and outdoor pet haven places but got almost nowhere. I finally went to Home Depot and got this lattice material and had a local construction guy make the frame, secure it with hinges and a latch and it's basically a taller gate. Only problem is I can't move it from place to place, which would work better.

Good news is that the new cat now has more room in which to hang out. Bad news is that the previous cat still wants nothing to do with her and isn't doing the curious approaching I had hoped for. We'll see how it goes over time. 

Above: Gate set up to acclimate two kitties. Cost: $120 including installation vs. $300–500+ for the potential screen doors that needed pet-proof screening and more work.

June 6, 2008

Cautionary Tails

Kitty Puke SignThis simple graphic says it all. Created by Ellen Gibbs, this great design is available on mugs, t-shirts and mouse pads too. Protect your vulnerable friends with a warning of the inevitable kitty puke in any cat lover's life. Items are available at Cafe Press (the signs are no longer available but shirts, mugs and mouse pads are). 

Cat Vomit Products

June 4, 2008

Cool Critters Deserve Happening Habitats

Let your critters lead the way to a super stylish pad for you and them.

Really Cool Pet Furniture

Above: Stylish and comfy pet beds from Hepper

I've found some really cool pet furniture and accessories with which to assuage my cognizant felines' cravings for superior designs. It takes hunting to find great pet stuff, which is odd, as people are fanatical about their pets. But the quest is being quenched. Not too long ago, I finished a website design for Kitty Cat Loft, makers of a great-looking spiral cat staircase. While checking out their search rankings, which often leads to nice discoveries in different categories of my clients' work, I came across several satisfying makers of furniture and items for pets. Previously, most makers of this caliber and style level were not American (there are some great German designs) — not true any more. Check out Modern Cat for links to lots of items besides the great beds above. I also met Akemi Tanaka at ICFF last month, who makes an adorable “curve” cat shelf. Lots of good things are brewing for critters in industrial design these days.

June 3, 2008

Tenacity

Tenacity is a trait I admire. The Oxford Dictionary defines tenacious as:

adjective
1
holding firmly to something.
2
persisting in existence or in a course of action.

Tenacious Doggie

Longer definitions give rise to further musings. Dictionary.com says tenacious means:

1.holding fast; characterized by keeping a firm hold (often fol. by of): a tenacious grip on my arm; tenacious of old habits.
2.highly retentive: a tenacious memory.
3.pertinacious, persistent, stubborn, or obstinate.
4.adhesive or sticky; viscous or glutinous.
5.holding together; cohesive; not easily pulled asunder; tough.

When talking to a man who owns a company that I do a lot of work with today, I told him he was tenacious. He held onto a client recently and wouldn't let go, despite numerous reasons to. They fumbled, they were uncertain, they were unclear, they were confusing and much more. Yet he held his ground. I am in awe and yet I know I would have walked away, even though I believe I will try hard to make things work. It made me think about what we all want from work and from life. To me, work has to be rewarding as well as a success in the eyes of the client. I want both. To only be successful for the client is ultimately not enough for me and to only be rewarding for me defies the whole point of providing a useful service. Still, I love tenacity and strive to have more, as it appears that the rewards are great.

May 26, 2008

Petaholic

Autumn is an “easy” girl and has her way with pretty much everyone who visits.

Jodi and Autumn

Here she is “allowing” my friend Jodi to pet her endlessly. Most visitors say something like, “Yup, cats love me,” in response to Autumn's enthusiastic rubbing, licking, rolling over and purring. And Autumn does love them all. She's a petaholic. I like the way she's sticking her legs straight out in front here; she looks like a leaping reindeer. But she's not going anywhere as long as Jodi keeps up the massage therapy.

May 17, 2008

Picasso Face

Cats like Autumn, whose faces have markings that cut across the two halves of their faces, look like “Picasso faces” to me. They almost make you think you're seeing their profile and head-on view at once.

Picasso Face

Picasso, as seen in the painting above left, was the first artist to show a face in both direct and profile view at the same time. This looked odd to people at first, as it's not what we literally see. However, it is something the mind can see and an artist‘s job is partly to provide us with new ways to see. Picasso did this more than most artists. Painterly kitties like Autumn are an example of “life imitates art” with their graphic faces. Look how she's imitating Picasso's yellow swatch down the middle of her face. It's an expression of God's sophisticated and cultured artistry that no man can exceed but which we can celebrate, honor and enjoy.

May 16, 2008

“Websites for You
and Your Best Friend Too”

This has been my graphic design firm, Nonlinear nyc Inc.'s, ad campaign for about a year and a half now. These small ads appear in The Island Current (no website), our local paper that sells for $1 (the price is right) and gets read avidly by residents.

Nonlinear nyc Inc. Graphic Design

Nonlinear nyc Inc. Graphic Design and Communications

Nonlinear nyc Inc.'s mini ad campaign

A new ad will be running in the June issue, as seen bottom row, above left, plus a sneak peek at a future fourth in the series. It's fun to look at them as a group now that there are several. Designing ads, like any other specific item, has its own challenges and constraints. These have to be in black and white, I can only afford a small ad and what looks good on its own may or may not look good when seen in the context of a busy newspaper page. One tip someone gave me when I first started designing ads was to cut out your design and place it in the magazine or newspaper in which it will appear. You don't usually have control over the page on which they'll run your ad so you don't know if there will be white space or competing imagery right next to you. The people who lay out the papers have a hard job fitting all the ads in different sizes with clashing artwork in each issue. Nevertheless, it's a lot of fun to see yourself in print and it always will be, online media boom and from which I make the majority of my living notwithstanding.

Never Mind.

Lost and Found

Never mind. She found it.

May 15, 2008

Have You Seen My Ball?

Have you by any chance seen Autumn's yellow ball?

Where did I put that?

She knows she had it recently but can't remember where she put it. If you see it, could you please let her know. She really likes it. Reminds me of when my mom would look for her glasses which were invariably on top of her head. We'd have a good laugh about it. I once walked around looking for the phone when it was in my hand so my mom taught me well.

May 13, 2008

House Becomes Home

My great friend, mentor and co-worker, Barbara, in California, with whom I worked for five years at Price Waterhouse, as I grew to love animals, told me, "Animals make a house a home." She nailed it.

As I was snapping some pictures to show interior designs on my rug website, my kitty followed me around. Here she is in the living room. You never need to pose critters; they always look amazing. They do not always do what you want them to do when trying to take their pictures but they do always look great. They add so much to one's life, I am eternally grateful. They crack you up constantly just by being themselves. They always help put things in perspective. They keep you company when everyone else has confused you or just has something else to do. The ideal mixture of soulfulness*------ (my kity typed that) and silliness, you can always count on the kitties for a sense of well-being.

May 9, 2008

What Not to Do on Mother's Day

Mother's Day is this coming Sunday, May 11th.

Mother and baby bear

While it's great to celebrate the incredible effort of mothers and to honor them, I was raised being told that this type of holiday is a “greeting card holiday,” meaning that it was invented purely as a money-making proposition. I think my parents are right, although it's nice to take a moment and celebrate the arduous challenge of being a mother. Not being a mom yet myself, I am in extra awe of the work moms put in. It's hard enough to try to hold down any sort of job, get your own basic needs taken care of, let alone do the laundry. But try to get some tyke off to school? Rush them to the emergency room? Help with homework? Who wants to do homework?! Not to mention pay for a thousand things. Animal mothers work their butts off for their offspring too and perform heroic feats to protect their little ones. The mother instinct is a beautiful thing.

Meanwhile, whatever you do to acknowledge mothers, do NOT come to City Island on Mother's Day. For some unknown reason, the entire borough of the Bronx and more seems to swarm here on Mother's Day and you cannot get on the island after a certain hour. Why anyone would want to put themselves through this is beyond any of us residents. Last year, I had to leave for some reason and it took over an hour to get through a five-minute section. This is not the day to visit our cute spit of land. Come the day after or the day before but do yourself a favor and avoid it like the plague on the actual day.

April 25, 2008

Angling for Modern Rugs

My kitty was caught angling for my rugs yesterday.

Cats are designed for comfort. They stretch, snooze and contort into graceful, funny and odd-looking yoga-like poses all day and night. I'm not above taking advantage of their natural artistry and dexterity to promote my modern rugs.

April 15, 2008

Cat's Not Out of the Bag

Autumn took to recycling shopping bags yesterday by using them as tents, sleeping caves and evening gowns.

Cat's in the Bag

Aren't kitties clever? So resourceful, so pretty, so silly. They are endless fun. 

 

April 3, 2008

Going to the Dogs — and Cats

I've been going to the dogs — and cats — lately.

Going to the Dogs and Cats

Photos L to R, by talented photographer clients Jay Ward and Audrey C. Tiernan

They say you draw to you whatever you love so I guess I am drawing fantastic animal-related clients to me because I love animals and have a bond with other people who love them too. The dog photo above is one in a portfolio by a primarily music-focused recent client called dogbrain Music. Jay Ward creates music by and for dogs, as well as human music. The photo at right is also by a new client I am so pleased to be working with, a superb photographer named Audrey C. Tiernan. She happens to also love cats and has two, Slugger and Pistachio, so you will undoubtedly get to see more sublime photos of these creatures as we complete her site. Going to the dogs — and cats — has never been a better idea.

March 10, 2008

Best Friends

Well aware am I that not everyone wishes us well and wants us to all thrive. However, life continues to be full of miracles and the unlikely, no matter how much horrible-ness also exists. Watch this great video to know that all things are possible.

Unlikely Best of Friends

January 5, 2008

All Wrapped Up

2007's all wrapped up — welcome to 2008 and a heaping helping of opportunity and new beginnings for us all.

At my first ever small party on December 29th, my place was festooned with leafy garlands and blue LED lights. Some time around November, it struck me that I should decorate my place for the holidays. The staircase was begging for garlands (never had a staircase before). I haven't had a tree in a couple years because although they're festive and pretty, they're expensive and drop needles everywhere. But I had had a break and was ready to do it again. Plus, I'm evolving as a designer and moving into interior design so I was itching to express myself this way. It was rewarding and the party was much fun. Thanks to all my lovely guests, who were very well behaved too. Guess who's the only one who spilled? That would be me. And no, I was not tipsy. I didn't see someone's glass and knocked it over onto light carpet, dousing the area with rich red wine. The amazing thing is that I got the stain out by using seltzer right away and two pet cleaning solutions the next day. 

December 2, 2007

Staying in Bed — Doing Whatcha Gotta Do

Kitties know how to relax. 

My kitty made me make the bed the other day with her still in it. As much as kitties know how to be comfortable, they are also often skittish. I guess she knows me well enough at this point because she let me struggle my way around her while staying just right comfy, don't you know. You can see the patch of a magenta color on the right side of the photo above, which is the top of the quilt that had to get tucked over her while she stayed put. She's the picture of comfort, don't you think? I loved it that she stayed her ground and let me work around her. She let me shove the blankets around however I had to and she slid right along. She was like a center kitty medallion that came in a set with the bedding.

November 25, 2007

Critter Blessings

The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill is a film (also a book, a separate project) that documents the life-changing relationship between a flock of wild parrots living near Telegraph Hill in San Francisco and a man named Mark Bittner.

Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill

A powerful and touching real tale, this is one man's journey that led him where he never expected. Anyone interested in the lives of animals, self-exploration or who has empathy for people whose paths are not always direct will appreciate this story. The documentary is beautifully put together, with sensitivity but not sentimentalism. The film won multiple awards and the book has been a New York Times bestseller. You will never look at birds the same way again.

October 17, 2007

Chic Pet Furniture

Like all good design, there's more than meets the eye to getting cat furniture right. In my quest for great-looking and functioning furniture and objects, as well as to make my critters happy, I am trying out some new pieces. I already know a few things I would design differently than what's readily available.

Chic Cat Furniture

Lab technicians are busy road-testing this scoop-topped pedestal (available at The Cat Connection). It has a sisal rope pole and another soft rug section to claw (good for their nails and to keep them off furniture you don't want clawed) at the bottom. Two cats can use it at once and it's better looking than most of what I've seen out there. Pedestals and cat trees need to be very sturdy so cats can jump and scratch and really wrestle with them. This tends to make them quite heavy.

Rug parts, I have learned, are almost always made from remnants, which means you can't usually get very interesting colors. This "country blue" was the nicest choice for this product from among other pedestrian options. Standing scratching posts also have to be tall enough for a cat to stretch his/her entire length or they probably won't be used. One thing I find frustrating is that these are just too high to look good in my living room near either a couch or chair. I wonder if they couldn't be a few inches shorter and still work. Cats like to be high up but the few inches wouldn't be very different, I don't think, from a cat's viewpoint. The wide base also makes them hard to maneuver and lay out with tasteful human pieces. I'd be interested to see if a skillful facility or designer couldn't streamline some pieces and still make them work well.

October 16, 2007

Windows to the Soul

There is debate over the origins of the phrase, "the eyes are the windows to the soul." Some credit Immanuel Kant. Max Beerbohm, the fantastic, quote-worthy writer and illustrator, author of "The Happy Hypocrite," said, "I do not need a book of quotations to know that the eyes are the windows to the soul."

The feline's windows to her soul are shining above. Anyone who ever doubted whether animals have souls has only to look at this intelligent, soulful, volumes-speaking gaze to know that animals have, if anything, more soul than we do. They generally dance better too.

October 8, 2007

Autumn Adventures

The necomer is shown here still getting used to her new surroundings. Never was there an easier cat to love.


Autumn Introductions

The foster kity at left is being pretty cool with her already, as shown above, although my first reigning kitty has flipped out a few times pretty badly. So I'm still taking the introductions very slowly and the baby is spending most of her time in my bedroom. Angel that she is, she's behaving perfectly while this slow process has to take place.

Bookish Kitty

Sasha took a break after studying hard yesterday.

Cat Reading

You can't see it in this picture but the book he's reading is about cats. He went right over to it when it was left open on the floor, as if he knew there might be some useful tips inside.

October 7, 2007

Kittens in My Underwear

Once again, I've got kitties in my underwear.

Kittens in My Underwear

Here is Autumn making herself at home in my underwear drawer, which is actually a shelf in a large cabinet. The kitties can't resist jumping in there when they get a chance, which isn't too often, as I know what they're up to when they're nearby and the door is open. That mess of black socks and stockings in the back is Autumn's handiwork too. I can't say I blame them since it's a soft pile of fabric and holds the added allure of being somewhat off limits. You can't even see her back there, as it's dark but the camera lit her up with its flash, revealing her lackadaisical yet mischievous attitude. I'm very glad she's making herself at home so quickly and can't believe she was out in the alley just a little over a week ago. She has adjusted completely to in-home life, instantly. Next thing I know, she'll be trying on my evening sandals and charging midnight deliveries from Murray's Sturgeon Shop. Sounds like fun to me.

October 6, 2007

Kitty Kung Fu — Noble Warriors

Here's a snapshot of my kitties doing some Kitty Kung Fu, my friends and my name for this air battling kitties do.

Kitty Kung Fu

I'm going to keep trying to get more shots of them when they're actually standing up and going at it with paws flying fast. It doesn't last long so it's hard to capture. I am not sure how much is play and how much is aggressive but it's very funny, as it has a sort of Asian art form peaceful warrior feel to it. You kind of expect them to bow to each other when they're done. 

September 29, 2007

Welcome Autumn

Autumn is making her presence known — Autumn the kitty, that is.

Autumn the Kitty

Autumn is a big personality in a teeny wrapper. She's brave and playful and extremely loving. She'll cuddle and lick you indefinitely. My friend, Susan, thinks she found her litter mates because there are several other female Calico kittens about Autumn's six months of age, who also have surprising personalities. One walks alongside her human while the dog gets walked. The gatekeeper at Susan's boatyard thinks that cats inherit personality traits as well as coloring. Why shouldn't that be so since it can be for humans? This is a shot of Autumn on one of her first forays into the rest of the apartment, as I am doing the slow breaking in acquaintance process with my other cats. It's important to do too, as they have some skirmishes when they all get together but all in all, things are progressing fine. I am lucky to have met this girl. Find a few more fun photos from Autumn's adventures here.

September 26, 2007

Tall Tails

While talking on the phone today to my new friend, Brian, I was surprised to turn around and see this view.

A Delicate Balance

Freestanding and quite tall, this cabinet has never been the receptacle for a kitty on top before. This cat has super long leaping legs and obviously got up there by sailing from a fairly good distance. I couldn't be mad at him — he looked so great and he didn't hurt any of the many glass and ceramic breakable things on top, below and inside the cabinet. Cats' stealth and poise catches me by surprise, even though its fame goes back to ancient tales (and tails).

September 21, 2007

Autumn Casts a Spell

Colorful kitty's working name is Autumn, which fits her artistic leafy coat aptly.

Autumn

Escaping from the shed we had her in overnight, she must have scaled the wall on a small vine and gotten out through a hole we didn't see in the roof. Luckily, my friend Elizabeth found her yesterday afternoon, being slightly menaced by another tough cat under a car. She is so friendly that we were able to lure her with food. I took her to the New Rochelle Humane Society for a once-over and under the circumstances, she is healthy, which is great news. She needs some cleaning up and she's doing a lot herself. Her purrrsonality is so warm. Cats are as different as people and for those of us who have been taken under their spell, they are constantly fascinating. This little tyke went out and got herself a loving home, despite falling into hard times on the street. Would it were so that we all had such determination. See a few more photos from today here.

September 19, 2007

Colorful Kitty Rescue

Kitties kitties everywhere. So many to love. So hard to compare. Check out this super colorful kitty I rescued today, with the help of my fantastic friends.

Autumn, the Colorful Kitty

She looks as if Jackson Pollack had his way with her, which is a fetching way to look. She had been loitering in the alley next to my house in City Island. She is super friendly, which indicates that she probably belonged to someone at some point. She also seems very young so it's odd that she would be thrown away. She's a bit beat up, which doesn't really show in this photo. I'm having her checked out by a vet tomorrow. There's a possibility she may be pregnant, as people think they saw her cavorting with local tomcats but we'll wait to see. At any rate, she is safe and sound now and I pray she isn't sick. With her great disposition, she will make anyone an amazing companion and has already enriched the lives of the people who have come across her. What a creature. God knows what She's doing, even though it's a nutty world. See some more photos of colorful kitty here.

September 15, 2007

11 Kitties on a Houseboat

This week, I visited a houseboat that sits in the down-to-earth waters of the Bronx, NYC. This particular vessel houses its human couple and at least 11 feline companions plus one hospitable pooch.

Dale Eggers and Neil Corwin, mosaic artists, live here. I met them because they have a studio here on City Island. Their houseboat is 10 minutes from the island and I am now designing their mosaic work website. Their art is enticing and their feline family is too. Besides their own cat brood, the houseboat slip fills in as home to many semi-feral but lovely creatures, such as Tabatha, seen below, chicly coordinated with the rusty background on which she chooses to recline.

Outdoor Kitty Tabatha

Photo by Susan Farley

September 5, 2007

The Exquisite Cat

Cats are so elegant, it astounds me.

Sasha

I'm still fostering a kitty named Sasha and trying to give him the best possible experience he can have and assure him that life is going to be good no matter what from here on in. Above is a captivating photo I took of him in a deluxe carrier I just got him because he was discarded with a carrier that would only hold a newborn kitten, it was so small. Below are a few more shots of this great carrier that I highly recommend. It's lightweight, comes in striking colors, has numerous compartments to store papers, toys, treats plus multiple vents and mesh windows to allow the kitty to see outside. It's meant for airline travel and complies with those standards. Get it at The Cat Connection — ask for the XL size for $5 more to allow for more room. The standard (large) size is fine but I like the bigger one (this cat is exceptionally tall too, which you can't see in these shots) and both are very light. More good colors are available than what they show if you ask. The carrier folds up easily for storage but I like to leave carriers out so cats relax in them and when it's time to go out, there is no fussing — it really works.

Sasha the KittySasha the Kitty

Sasha the kitty checking out his new Sturdibag from The Cat Connection.com

August 29, 2007

The Cat Connection

Cats fascinate me. For my fellow ailurophiles, Texas boasts a superior store and animal shelter called The Cat Connection.

Cat Connection

Their site is fun and easy to use. As a designer, I am always interested in great-looking and great-functioning  — not to mention, gorgeous colored — products. Animals often get short shrift when it comes to well-designed, eye-catching wares. Not here. Hey, if you're happier using the stuff, your cats will be too. Besides which, I presume that cats of my acquaintance can tell the difference between a well-designed object and a poorly designed one and will turn their discerning noses up at inferiority. Staff and owners at The Cat Connection are knowledgeable about cats since they run a shelter besides selling excellent cat-related merchandise. Here are a few examples of their products I love: the best carriers, beautiful ceramic dishes and helpful behavior-related items, such as litter that attracts felines to the litter box and hard-core stain removers.

Katie Recommends The Cat Connection 

August 15, 2007

Jazz Cats

This kitty is named Mingus, after the great jazz musician, Charlie Mingus.

Charlie Mingus Inspired Kitty

He lives with my boyfriend, David, who is also a jazzy guy, being a trained saxophone player with a vast knowledge of jazz. I'm sure Mingus is an inspiration to David in his musical purrrsuits. Mingus is the color of champagne and he does, indeed, go to your head. Another fantastic feline to soothe our days and help guide our ways.  

August 9, 2007

Animal Magic

I've been fostering a kitty. Here he is:

Cats are fascinating. We cat lovers could observe them all day and night. This kitty, who is exceptionally tall and the sweetest cat I've ever met, was being discarded by a nearby church. He belonged to a retired rector who simply left him when he moved on and the new rector wasn't interested. He was in danger of going to a shelter. He is slated to become pals with my boyfriend's other cat, Mingus (yes, think Charlie and jazz). I will write more about the process of bringing him together with my existing diva kitty. They are both magnificent and so different. These furry creatures teach us a lot.