Plus Cat

It seems to be a quirk of creative types to be accoutred with a cat – or several. Writers are particularly prone to cats – Ernest Hemingway’s collection of polydactyl cats being perhaps an extreme example – but the link is well-documented in both word and image, albeit not entirely understood.

Sorry about that deadline
“A catless writer is almost inconceivable,” says Barbara Holland. “It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.” But not all writing cats are so unhelpful. Kerry Greenwood says she has “a censorious cat called Belladonna who supervises the process and won’t let me write more than two hours without a break. She slyly hits the caps lock with her little black paw. Thus I am saved from carpal tunnel syndrome and she is well supplied with cat treats (those expensive green ones).”

It’s the same with knitters. As Stephanie Pearl-McPhee notes in her book At Knit’s End, “the tendency to be accompanied by a cat is an oddity among knitters that cannot be explained…. Most cats have a thing about knitting. They are honor sworn to pester knitters and be involved in knitting as much as possible. They lie on patterns, play with balls of yarn, bat at the end of a moving needle, and given two seconds of opportunity, will spread themselves all over your knitting, intentionally shedding as much fur as possible. When selecting a cat to share my life and knitting with, I will consider choosing one whose fur doesn’t contrast with my favorite color yarn.

Rudolf Hirth du Frênes - Young Friends 01
My cats know better than to play with an active ball of yarn (though you can see the temptation growing on them as they stare at it) but they do like to be in a lap that has knitting on it. The more mature of the two is happy to just sit alongside the knitting (she’s the one who’s a fibre snob), but the junior seems to think his life will not be complete until he has somehow climbed into the needle-portal and merged his dimensions with those of the knitting. I live in fear of ending up with a Klein-bottle-sock-cat (which isn’t a Dr. Seuss book, but should be).

Then there are sewing cats. Cats love sitting on rustly paper. Newspapers are better than books or magazines, and the delicate tissue of pattern paper is even better. Add the plethora of textures afforded by fabrics, and you have an irresistible cat-magnet. Leimoni Oakes, aka the Dreamstress, has a whole category of blog posts dedicated to the ‘assistance’ of her sewing-cat Felicity. The blog at Cation Designs has both a tag and a tab about the dedicated sewing-cat and model Walnut.

Jean Siméon Chardin - Still-Life with Cat and Rayfish - WGA04740
There are also cats who dwell with artists, no doubt taking every opportunity to filch food from still life compositions, leave little painty footprints about the premises, and bat shards of stone across the floor to where an unsuspecting foot will encounter them. (Cats are very thoughtful in that respect).
Doubtless there are many more examples of cats and their creatives, which simply don’t happen to have come to my notice (but please mention them in the comments).

Whatsoever your hand findeth to do, you can pretty much guarantee that your cat will climb into it. Knitting? Yes please. Sewing? Let me help you pin that down (with my claws). Reading? I’ll hold the book open for you (by lying on it). Hanging out the laundry? I’ll turn unintentional back-flips while trying to uproot the washing-line pole (since you won’t let me play with the pegs). Pruning? I’ll hide in the bush and dab at the secateurs as they come past. Playing pétanque? Let me lurk on the sidelines and dash madly into the path of the steel balls as you hurl them. Cooking? The floor will seethe with cats at every turn, especially if you’re cooking anything animal based (although one of our cats will eat bits of raw kale that have fallen on the floor – if she thinks you’re not looking).

you never put the cheese in the refrigerator, because you don't put your cat in the refrigerator
Why it is that cats do this is unclear. Boredom? It’s hard to bore an animal that is content to spend its days eating, sleeping and licking itself. Are they offering support? Are they offering – or seeking – companionship? Or do they merely wish to come between their person and anything that might look like it’s getting more attention than they are? Whatever the reason, it seems the attentions of a determined cat are inescapable, so we might as well accept them for the furry little joy-bringers they are, and do our best to get on with life despite their ‘help’.

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Quote: Feelings (and an Award)

“it’s a feeling not a reality, and it’s temporary; when you’re in it, it feels like you always have been and always will be, but that’s an illusion.”
Chaos Girl

Chaos Girl is one of the bloggers I follow, and she has very kindly nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award.

She is, like me, an eccentric (yay!) and her posts are full of wit, wisdom, and best of all, honesty: we are none of us as perfect as we generally pretend to be, and that’s ok. Highly recommended for a refreshing read of reality.

There are two difficulties inherent in accepting this award: the technicalities of putting the award plaque in the right places on the blog (Chaos Girl has mercifully provided detailed instructions!) and selecting fifteen bloggers to pass the award on to!

That being the case, those I nominate don’t have to accept and do likewise; it is an obligation-free compliment 🙂

The Rules:
1) The nominee shall display the Very Inspiring Blogger Award logo on her/his blog, and link to the blog they got nominated from.

2) The nominee shall nominate fifteen (15) bloggers she/he admires, by linking to their blogs and informing them about it.

The Bloggers (in no particular order):

Ideophilus: he challenges my assumptions, he helps me see things from entirely new perspectives, and he always claims it’s his fault if I don’t understand 🙂 Inspiring in print and in person (and I should know, he’s my husband).

Esther Van Kuyk is (among many other things) a talented illustrator who engages with serious issues without forgetting the simple joys of life – and a great friend. Her work is available on cards and t-shirts: my favourite is the hedgehog – so cute (a correct use of the word!)

Andrea Eames of A Cat of Impossible Colour is a fellow interculturalite*, as well as an elegant, talented author.

Kristen Lamb provides the perfect blend of challenge, encouragement, and laugh-out-loud humour. Must-read for budding writers; highly recommended for anyone else looking for a good read.

K.B. Owen, Mystery Writer writes mysteries, yes, but she blogs about weird and wacky history, holidays, food, and all kinds of fun stuff. Have a look!

The Tiny Farm is a lovely little blog about moving toward a sustainable lifestyle without four acres and a cow. Very much a ‘join me on the journey’ blog rather than a ‘behold my awesomeness you eco-terrorist’ kind of blog – very encouraging!

The Dreamstress is all about historical clothing – studying it, recreating it, wearing it, and most of all having fun with it. Fascinating, accessible, and very easy on the eyes.

Dr Beth of Throwim Way Leg recounts the ups and downs of being a doctor in the back of beyond, PNG. Not suitable for those with delicate stomachs!

Cation Designs shows how enjoyably creative geekiness can be, sewing a mix of stylish everyday items and hugely fun costume pieces, among other creative endeavours. Also sometimes pictures of her gorgeous cat Walnut.

Sara Litchfield of Right Ink on the Wall is a talented writer and editor who also thinks about the big questions in life: what do we leave behind us when we go? Keep an eye out for her novella The Night Butterflies, coming out next month!

Gwyneth Hyndman of Sweet Home California is a much-travelled writer, journalist and general free-lancer who is the epitome of the life-long learner – always going someplace or trying something new! We were classmates back in our Wellington days…

Malcolm Guite is proof that form does not limit creativity, but rather provides scope for it, with his beautifully balanced sonnets circling the canonical calendar (among others). His Stations of the Cross sonnets are my particular favourites: I reread them every year.

Seven Miles of Steel Thistles is the place to go for “fairytales, folklore, fantasy, myths, legends, and children’s literature” in Katherine Langrish’s own words. Always a fascinating read.

Worthwhile Books is an unashamed book snob, so if you’re looking for reading recommendations that have screened out the mindless pap, stop by!

The eponymous Editor of the Editor’s Journal takes pop culture’s latest and asks questions which invite discussion and actually make you think before you comment. Refreshing and deservedly popular.

So there you have it: fifteen blogs I find inspiring, in one way or another. Or rather sixteen, because of Chaos Girl, who I’m not allowed to nominate 🙂

*a neologism, as far as I know. As with everything else on this blog, it’s under a Creative Commons licence, so help yourself!