an everyday photo, every day | photography • art • poetry

  • poke berries
  • yellow sunflower
  • Dagger Moth Caterpillar
  • cat shadow
  • feverfew in vase
  • canisters in german
  • "Imagine". World Peace Day 2014
  • Featured Image -- 7129
  • CaretakersCollection



poke berries


There is no purple like an autumn purple, rich and deep. I let a few volunteers grow in my yard this year where an older section near my deck now gets too much shade to be an herb garden. We are recalculating.

Just beware, pokeberries are highly toxic, all parts of the plant, and while the birds eat them and they are pretty, it’s best not to touch the berries or even stems without gloves. And sadly, though the berries look so lusciously midnight purple, the dye they make is crimson and fades easily, but good enough to coat solar cells to absorb energy. The plants are also an essential element of traditional medicine—as long as you are careful!

poke berries

Pokeberries ripening.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

Saturday Smiles

yellow sunflower

Lemon Smile

I encountered the last of a row of exuberant sunflowers on my way back from the post office this morning. I wish I would have had my DSLR to blur out some of those backgrounds and get even more dramatic closeups, but these are fine. Enjoy!

orange sunflower

Orange Smile

Yellow sunflower in shadow

Shy Smile

russet sunflower

Russet Smile, with a little green bee.

four sunflowers

Smiling Quartet

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

Preparing for Winter

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Walking along the trail I spotted something small and yellow hovering in the air at about eye level. I thought it was a small insect hovering or a leaf caught in an unseen spiderweb. Above is what it looked like. Below, on closer inspection, it was a fuzzy yellow caterpillar with long black spikes of fur, or setae, symmetrically protruding along the back as it slowly writhed and twisted and turned. But it wasn’t caught in a spiderweb, it was hanging from its own string of silk, which I could not see from any angle, and slowly, almost imperceptibly, climbing back up toward maple leaves overhead.

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

I could not see the silk, but the only other thing handy was the ground below, now at least seven feet below the caterpillar. As it inched upward toward the leaf about nine feet from the ground I thought about how vulnerable it had been hanging there in mid-air, the perfect snack for any one of a number of birds to fly by and end its journey early. Did it not know? Perhaps it instinctively did, but carried on nonetheless. What else would it do, starve to death from fear of being caught?

Finally it was nearly at the leaf.

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Then it was “on land” as it were, and it walked along the leaf, obviously on some trail known to itself. I looked it up later and found it was a dagger moth caterpillar, Acronicta americana, and discovered that these and other moths spun silk all over the place to create their own personalized caterpillar-ways through the woods. This particular species was common, could be considered a pest, and at this point in its development if handled the hollow setae could break off in your hand and cause a bit of a rash. It would soon, in this region, build a cocoon to winter over, and next spring emerge as a familiar brown moth to flit about the woods, but for now it was gorging its little body on the plenty of autumn.

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

Dagger Moth Caterpillar

For a little more about the dagger moth caterpillar, read this interesting post.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

My Shadow Self

cat shadow

My Shadow Self

My black kitty Mimi greets her shadow cast in a pool of sunlight The light shining through old wavy glass creates a subtle pattern of shadow and light that resembles water mingled with the gentle striations of pale wood grain. Is it water, or is it light? Or is it an illusion? Does Mimi look at her darker self, or just the self she has become at age 11 after six early litters of kittens, life on the streets, rescue and life in a safe and comfortable home? I think I feel a poem coming on.

It’s challenging enough to photograph black cats, let alone in high-contrasting sun and shadow, and when there are as many as five if the whole family is together, but this is one I love.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

Tangled Light

feverfew in vase

“Tangled Light” desaturated 25%.

The sunlight has struggled between the leafy branches of the river birch and sifts down into the little teapot holding feverfew blossoms, crossing over each blossom with the shadow of another to reach the darkness of the leaves below.

Originally, I thought this would be a great straight black and white shot because of the contrast in the lights and darks and the abstract shapes it created. I don’t like the way my camera captures black and white, so I take the color photo into Photoshop and desaturate it because that captures more levels of gray.

feverfew in vase

“Tangled Light” in black and white.

But that one just fell absolutely flat for me—losing the lighter tone of the yellow created too many dark areas. So I tried one that was desaturated, but only to about 75%, and that is the one you see at the top. It’s just right.

Below is the original color version, which I like as well. In any case, the light traverses a tangled path.

feverfew in vase

“Tangled Light” in full color.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

Reis and Zucker Canister

canisters in german


They just look like a couple, though I wonder where the rest of the family might be. The stamp on the bottom was unclear, but apparently these two kitchen partners emigrated along with their human family though I’m not sure when. Germans settled in Pennsylvania very early in this country’s history, especially in eastern Pennsylvania where we hear of the “Pennsylvania Dutch” who were not Dutch but German, but along with the Scots and Irish moved west to this area. I’m not sure if Reis and Zucker are that old, and the motifs don’t appear to be so. But it’s nice to see these well-made porcelain and gold plate canisters have survived the years. The little bunny below apparently thinks its great. You just never know what you’ll find in a vintage shop.

rabbit figurine

Dancing Bunny

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

World Peace Day 2014

"Imagine". World Peace Day 2014

“Imagine”. World Peace Day 2014

“…no hell below us, above us only sky…”

It’s in your heart. Find it there, and share it.

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This was left on my front porch to greet me this morning. Possibly to celebrate the day, and possibly because I’m summarizing my remarks from last Sunday’s Pet Memorial Sunday ceremony just after we’d released the white doves to carry off our wishes to our animal companions.

Feather from a white dove.

Feather from a dove.

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“White bird must fly/or she will die…” ©It’s a Beautiful Day

“White Bird”- It’s A Beautiful Day -1968

“White Dove” – Scorpions

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

Poem for Saturday: If There Weren’t Morning Glories

morning glories

“If There Weren’t Morning Glories”

I don’t have enough sun to grow morning glories in my yard, so I take advantage of others’ lovely pink and purple trumpets. For years I’ve photographed the morning glories that come up from seeds along the wrought iron fence by my neighbor’s white barn garage in the alley near me. This year they are not there, and I miss them, but this morning reminds me so much of last year when I spent way too long photographing them. I’m so glad I did!

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I have been kind of obsessed with morning glories in alleys lately—they’ve just suddenly sprung up so I’ve shared some of my old favorites, but I’m trying not to spend too much time on them right now when I’m really busy.

If There Weren’t Morning Glories

I would get more
if there weren’t
morning glories
the alley

poem © 2013 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

They got the better of me today, and after a GB+ of photos of the lovely purple and pinks by the white barn and a quick scribble of a thought I decided to spend some time on something I visualized while photographing and finishing my walk home. The thought was a very literal one—I should get home, I had things to do before the end of the day and if I hadn’t encountered such exuberant and colorful beauty while walking down the alley I would probably have been home already.

But I wouldn’t have these many photos of morning glories, each of which I’ll use somewhere sometime, even if I only look at them one winter day, and I wouldn’t have that sweet spontaneous the exercise of my creative intellect from coming upon such beauty that had me let go of what I needed to do, only to come back and do it better than I would have if I had ignored the morning glories and come straight home. Soon the morning glories will be grayish withered memories and I may be too, so it was extra important to capture it.

Please share! And don’t forget to tarry a while by the morning glories.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.

Ten Years Later: After the Flood

flooded carnegie

Second and Main Streets in Carnegie on September 17, 2004.

On September 17, 2004, Hurricane Ivan stayed a little too long in our valley, dumping torrents of rain on our hillsides, already sodden from the visits of three other hurricane remnants in the month prior.

I’d watched Chartiers Creek flood from the time I was a child, and not only did I go to the Catholic school just blocks from the creek but my father’s family lived in the flood plain and nearly every spring there was water in the basement and in the streets, and we would drive to the bridge over the creek at Carothers Avenue and watch the thundering brown water writhe just below our feet on the walkway of the bridge.

When I was young, I was near enough to a bend in this creek to leave our house on the hill and run down through the old pasture to the valley below, along the road and the railroad tracks and to the creek, walking alongside its rippling path or even in the creek bed in the dryness of midsummer. In the late 70s an engineered solution to control the floods dredged and widened the channel, and for 35 years, there were no floods at all, the pollution in the creek from all the industries along its banks cleared up, and we watched the native flora and fauna return as we canoed the channel. Those ramblings with my friend, the creek, have been the inspiration for much of my creative efforts in landscape painting and photography, my poetry and stories, and became the theme for my series of poetry readings and the title of the very first, as well as the folio of my poetry, Paths I Have Walked.

So this flood was a huge shock. We heard later the flood control plan had protected us up to a “100-year flood”, and many of these had passed with no flooding, but the flood we’d experienced was a “500-year flood”, and indeed in all the memories and records of floods in Carnegie, the water had never been this high, rising in a matter of hours in the afternoon and into the night to fill the first floor of some homes on low ground, and as high as eight feet in some areas of Main Street, wiping out nearly every business along Main Street for up to three months.

The flood changed us all. Many people and businesses truly took years to recover, and some of them never truly recovered at all. My godparents lived in the family’s fine house that had weathered so many floods but floodwater had never entered the first floor, and at their age they were trapped on the second floor with no power, their portable oxygen running low. Though they were rescued and lived with a daughter for a month while we cleaned up the house for them to move back, it was temporary as they realized the house was difficult for them, and they moved to an apartment a few months later.

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After the Flood

Dedicated to the people and places of the Chartiers Valley after the flood of September 17, 2004

After a day of rain
the creek has been rising
and by night it thunders down its channel
writhing around its curves like a medieval dragon,
pulling at its banks and anything overhanging,
carrying whatever it can grasp along the way,
and I have seen this creature before
in the creek’s rise and fall,
now tamed by engineering,
filling its channel to the brim, then receding
each spring and summer
and not felt threatened but fascinated
by its power, power not of humans,
power to change absolutely to a form
unrecognizable from its usual character,
yet always returning to the quiet,
sleepy nature which I had explored from childhood.

But I am remembering another night
when the creek refused to stop at its brim
but spilled over and over and over,
thundering down all the hillsides came its sustenance
tributaries filling their valleys as never before,
rushing to join with the writhing creature,
mixing and turning and thrashing and smashing anything in its path
so drunk with its own power
that it forgot all those who loved it,
who lived on its banks and in its valleys,
listened to its soft murmuring voice in the darkness of a summer night,
but even as I pleaded with the creature to stop, it had gone too far,
my friend, my refuge, how could you betray me,
I knew that the creek would not listen,
it was no creature gone on a rampage
it was simply following its nature, and this one time
it defeated our intelligence with its simple power
and all our homes, possessions, lives
were nothing in its path.

The next day the beast no longer raged,
the sun shone and the air was mild,
and the autumn continued like any autumn before,
but we were changed, all of us,
the long journey ahead, longer than we knew
and our place here will never be the same.

poem © 2008 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

Paths I Have Walked: the poetry and art of Bernadette E. Kazmarski


People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I  was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

Flower Shadows

flower shadows

Flower Shadows

In photographing a vase of flowers in dappled sunlight, suddenly the sun shone full through the leaves and this shadow appeared like a vision. The photo of the flowers was nice, but this was so unexpected it deserves its own time.

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If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.

ALT “Vistas” Newsletter Summer 2014


I love it when I get to use one of my photos for a design, and don’t miss the summer issue of Allegheny Land Trust’s “Vistas” newsletter.

Originally posted on What's New in Bernadette's Studio?:

newsletter design

ALT “Vistas” Summer 2014

The summer issue of Vistas has been out for a while! We’ve used the new look and layout again, including this wonderful magazine-style front cover with just a nice juicy photo of the grass in one of the conservation areas after a storm, and one blue darner damselfly. That’s a photo I took five years ago and I was thrilled to be able to use it.

Vistas had always printed with the same three colors from the logo and the green bars on the outside edge of each page and the same photo pasted into the text for the title, but a few years ago we began to use seasonal colors and then finally changed over to resemble more of a magazine on gloss-coated paper stock instead of the uncoated and a photo featured on the front cover. You can read more about the changes we…

View original 58 more words

The Caretaker’s Buddha

plastic buddha

The Caretaker’s Buddha

Buddha waves from the window of the cemetery caretaker’s cottage.

After the pet memorial ceremony on Sunday the host and I took a walk through the cemetery and grounds where we’d set it up. Along the edges we found some of the oldest graves and the caretaker’s cottage, which now only holds equipment and no one lives there, though a window held some of the treasures they’d no doubt found among the headstones through the years. I was heartened by this jovial Buddha, possibly ivory, holding onto one of the muntins and waving to me from the window. Below is the whole window with a tribal face and a painted plastic couple with a dog and a Christmas tree they’d apparently just cut, a nun with a lamb and a few other odds and ends.


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If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


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