Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Going to the Cats

Cats - those graceful, seductive creatures that people either love or hate.  People have long since categorized themselves as either cat-people or dog-people and sometimes a lover of both species.  These fascinating creatures have been a part of my life for many years, all starting with a stray named Samantha who was named for the character in I Dream of Jeannie for one minute she would be here and the next she was gone. 

Samantha graced our family with at least two litters of kittens each year, one litter she gave birth to was in our laundry room behind the clothes washer.  She also became the one cat who later introduced us to the need of spaying and neutering one's feline companions.  Over the fourteen years she spent in our yard, as those years passed, it became harder and harder to find homes for her offspring.  She was the mom to two of my first feline house mates - an orange tabby named Fritz and a grey tabby named Ollie born a litter apart.

In 1997, my mom became one of the founding members of a feral cat welfare group.  We learned about new programs like that run by TEAM (Tait's Every Animal Matters) - a mobile surgical unit that travels our home state spaying and neutering felines - feral and housemates alike.  This same surgical unit became a model for other similar ones in Pennsylvania.  Long story short, the pyramid of offspring that can result from just one pair of cats is a striking number and that's if one kitten from each litter survives.

Just this year, I was asked if I could lend a paint brush to some sculpted cat resins to help raise money for the Cat Guardians of Illinois and you bet I jumped on it!  These five figurines were sculpted by Marcy Osedo (Studio Cute), cast in resin by Deb and Randy Buckler of Resins By Randy, and painted by me (Sunshine's Creative Endeavors's Arcadian Creations).

Chris Wallbruch is selling the cats via auction with all proceeds going to help her Cat Guardians and the final day to make a bid is September 8.  Feel free to contact Chris (wombats AT to place a bid!

Patches - a Himalayan - CURRENT BID $15

KitKat - Russian Blue  Starting offer $15

 Hanna - orange tabby long hair CURRENT OFFER $25

 Napoleon short haired tortoiseshell calico - my personal fave of the bunch!  CURRENT OFFER $30

 Cookie - black tiger long hair  Starting Offer $15

Friday, August 12, 2011

A Bit of Fun with Colorful Butterflies

Ever since I can remember, I've been intrigued with the beauty of butterflies.  In my youth during summer recess, you would always find me outside on a sunny day in the yard or the vacant lot next door before it was subdivided and built on.  The wild flowers were prime attractants for them and provided hours of outside time running around with a butterfly net.  Later on, I switched over to photographing butterflies enjoying watching them go about daily business without being hassled by me or net. 

I was familiar with the common species - cabbage whites, monarchs, several of the swallowtails.  But, as the scientist in me grew, so did my desire to get to know more about these colorful insects.  Once I obtained a macro lens, it was really all over!  I am without a doubt hopelessly addicted to photographing small things or getting in closer to capture detailed images of some of my favorite subjects.

Here's a few:

I started learning about butterfly gardening.  You don't have to live in the country to provide for butterflies.  There's plenty of flowers that can be planted in pots that will bring in these beautiful winged creatures.  It's more than just providing sources of nectar for the adults.  A great attractant is through the providing of host plants for their larva.  This takes some researching and becoming familiar with the different species in one's area and this can be accomplished easily if one is willing to let a section of the yard "go back to nature".  I was inspired to do so as the usual store bought plants just didn't hold up with the extreme heat whereas native wildflowers will manage. The benefits of native plantings abound - the most important reason - it's healthier for the environment.

This leads up to a fun story to tell - a story of an encounter with a Red Admiral.  This particular species I find tends to be a bit nervous when approached making getting close pictures a bit of a challenge.  As with all wild things, one needs to get to know one's subject in order to photo it well.  At the time this little one showed up, I was outside with my macro set up shooting small insects and I certainly wasn't thinking of the Red Admiral that had been spending the last two days teasing me with his appearances and quick departures whenever I approached too close.

However, at this particular time, he/she decided to delight me with a close encounter.  I don't recall having any perfumes on or anything of particular interest, but this little one landed on my shoulder and would fly off only to return again and again and again.  Then, he landed on the Rose of Sharon and delighted me with staying very still while I got in close for the following images.

What was so fun was having him fly off and return and each time I went in close with the macro lens it seemed as if he was keeping a direct eye on that lens.  I can only imagine what he must have been thinking.  Did he see his reflection and think the other a rival male?  Was that other butterfly in the reflection a pretty female?  I haven't a clue.   We were in each other's company for a good twenty minutes.  I think I finally walked away after taking a couple dozen pictures.

Look at this close up!  I swear it was as if he was staring me down from his perch on that Rose of Sharon that was just over my head.

I know this particular shot will end up a greeting card and I have yet to determine how I will use it.  Maybe a "Hello" card.  I haven't decided yet.  It's going to have a comical twist to it, however it ends up.  Before I left, I thanked the little bugger for delighting me with his extreme interest in me - for whatever reason he had, I certainly enjoyed it and have a bunch of wonderful fun images to remember the encounter.