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

  • The first forget-me-nots.
  • frog in pond
  • pear blossoms
  • blossoming trees at night
  • Honey locust tree
  • colorful marbles in the sun
  • forsythia
  • doll's arm on pavemetn
  • A paper lamp by Katy DeMent.

Latest

Forget Me Not

The first forget-me-nots.

The first forget-me-nots.

The first forget-me-nots are blooming in the back yard, their leaves nipped by a freeze last week, but while they’re later than usual and seem sparse and faded, before long the back yard will be a sea of blue.

Here’s a post from this date in 2011…

forget-me-nots

Forget Me Not

The forget-me-nots have suddenly begun blooming, responding to a few slightly warmer days and lots of rain, sprouting stalks whose growth can be measured in the course of one day, the round green buds popping open to revel the perfect five-petaled blue flower with its yellow center.

The overnight rain still clings to their leaves and stems and one drop hangs suspended from the edge of a tiny round petal.

And as the flower implores, I remember past springs and my yard a sea of blue as I had let them naturalize, and I remember past gardens and cats who spent the days outside with me and all the pleasant memories from 20 years in my little back yard.

. . . . . . .

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

Everything Matters

frog in pond

Everything Matters

Including a homely little frog who found a home in a reclaimed golf course pond, taken on Earth Day 2006 in a conservation area. Happy Earth Day.

. . . . . . .

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

Thou Answerest Them Only With…

pear blossoms

Pear Blossoms

My pear tree blossoms fervently in warm early morning sunlight.

Please read e. e. cummings’s poem O Sweet Spontaneous for the rest of the story.

. . . . . . .

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

Pysanky

photo of pysanky on traditional cross-stitch cloth

It doesn’t happen too often but in this year the Easter celebrations of both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions of my childhood meet on the same Sunday. I heard the bells early this morning from both of the churches I have attended on Easter, the Catholic church where I also went to school, and the Ukrainian Orthodox church where I occasionally took my mother in later years. I remember both traditions of Lent and the Stations of the Cross on hot afternoon in a church with no air conditioning, filling a small old basket with some decorated butter and a small paska, a small jar of honey, a homemade pysanky and  few slices of kielbasa, covered with a special embroidered cloth. Of all of it, the pysanky are what stay with me, and in the patterns and colors of the eggs and the cross-stitch cloth I see my own palette today.

Nearly every year I go to the annual pysanky sale at the Sts. Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in Carnegie, a huge event where people purchase eggs decorated in traditional East European designs, often using centuries-old tools and techniques. My grandparents helped to develop and build this church. Those pictured are mine, and only one is a traditional natural-egg pysanky while the others are wooden.

Many eggs are real eggs which have had the contents forced out through pinholes top and bottom, others have simply let the contents dry inside. These eggs are colored in much the same way as fabrics are batiked, using wax to draw a section of the design and then dipped in successively darker shades of dye.

Usually white eggs are used. For instance, the section of a design that was to be white would be drawn out in wax lines using a tool called a “kistka”, which is like a tiny metal funnel attached to a handle as long as but a little thinner than a pencil. The narrow end of the kistka is held over a flame, such as a candle, for a few seconds until it’s hot, then the narrow end of the funnel is pressed into a block of wax so it collects in the funnel, preferrably beeswax because it melts and stays soft long enough to work, but hardens quickly enough not to drip. The wax flows out like a fountain pen, and after the design is drawn and the wax is allowed to harden, the egg is dipped in the next lightest color, usually yellow. The areas where the wax was applied remain white. Then the yellow areas of the design are drawn in wax and the egg is dipped in the next color. When the egg is done being designed, it’s dipped in hot water which easily melts the beeswax, and what remains of the wax is gently rubbed onto the surface to protect the design and add a soft shine to the shell.

Other eggs are hand-tooled from wood and painted, still using the traditional designs, as are most of the ones in the photo above. Some appear purely decorative, but each element of the design, even what appear to be just patterns, are symbolic of something. You’ll frequently see wheat, the symbol of plenty from the “breadbasket” of Eastern Europe, in a land where many knew hunger, and flowers, symbolic of new life the world over. On the left-hand egg you see letters which are in Cyrillic script which looks like “Bockpec” but which is actually pronounced “Voskres”. On the other side of the egg is “Xpnctoc” (though the “n” looks backward) or “Christos”; together they are “Christos Voskrese” or “Christ is Risen”.

My grandparents made their own eggs every year, much simpler in design and always white with one color. I learned the traditional pysanky above later, but earlier I learned my grandparents’  technique through my aunt, who continued the tradition of making about a dozen of them each Easter. I remember punching holes in the top and bottom of an eggshell with a straight pin and blowing into one end or the other to force the contents out, usually destroying two or three of a dozen by making holes too large or breaking them while forcing the contents out.

But we’d press the straight pin into the wooden end of a matchstick, light a candle and dip the flat head of the pin in the melting wax, then draw quick lines on the egg, fat at one end, thin at the other. We’d usually create a starburst of a dozen or more lines on both ends, the thin ends pointing to the hole we’d made in each end of the egg, then around the middle we’d have some pattern resembling wheat or simple stylized flowers, always symmetrical, though the designs were nearly impossible to see. We’d let the wax cool and dip the eggs in strong tea or beet juice or simply commercial food coloring and suddenly there would be our design.

All those eggs are gone now, but I think I’ll take some time to make a few this week to add to my collection.

Poem for Saturday: To Come Again in Spring

photo of spiderweb

Tiny Spider

As the spring unfolds with longer days and milder temperatures, we remember what has passed.

It was the tiny spider in the delicate, worn web that inspired this slideshow from 2009 and poem from 2011.

Each year I leave the plants in my garden standing for the birds, insects and other residents of my garden to use for winter accommodations. In spring of 2009 I began preparing the garden section by section and happened to see this spider and her delicate web outlined in the spring sunshine. She had died long before but continued to cling there all winter long, and her web held up against any number of storms.

Her eggs would have been laid on the stem adjacent to her web which would catch the first insects in spring, and when they hatched the little spiders could have their first meal of the insects caught in the web and use her web as a launching pad. I found it so moving that on that bright early March afternoon I went through my garden looking for other such images.

All the other native plants had left behind their skeletons, and the effect of these was haunting, like finding a ghost town or an unknown world.

I had to let them say their last goodbye. I photographed each desolate construction with attention to extreme details you might never notice to show the intrinsic, transient beauty of these empty shells. The sepia tones are the natural coloring of the plants in the stark spring sunlight, that interim color palette between the blues of winter and the greens of spring. Below is a link to a slideshow I composed and posted on my website; when you view it, you’ll see that many of the plats I’ve photographed are criss-crossed with tattered little webs.

To Come Again in Spring

In this sepia scene
of late-winter twigs and matted leaves
I found the small tattered orb she had built that lasted the winter,
this tiny creature no larger than a grain of sand
now curled in the center, her spirit long gone
from her desiccated body,
yet her tiny children,
awakened by a warming spring sun,
will emerge from all the crevices
in the plant she chose as their birthplace
and find that her final creation
helps provide their first meal,
delicate strands catching the earliest gnats,
though these too be
the children of other mothers;
and so the returning songbirds will catch
the tiny spiders as they leave their web of safety
and find sustenance to begin their families
all toiling through the year to grow and thrive
to prepare for the dark of winter
and to come, again, in spring.

Poem To Come Again in Spring © 2011 B.E. Kazmarski

I read this poem at my 2011 poetry reading at Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, but did not set up a web page for that reading, and it is not included in my poetry book. Perhaps a reason to finally build the page from that reading, and get started on a new poetry book…

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.

And click here to bring up the slideshow of the images I took this day.


poetry book cover paths i have walked

“Paths I Have Walked”, collected poems from poetry readings.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

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

FROM FOUR ANNUAL POETRY READINGS AT ANDREW CARNEGIE FREE LIBRARY & MUSIC HALL IN CARNEGIE, PA

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. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.

Blossoms at Night

blossoming trees at night

Blossoms at Night

The ornamental pear trees on Main Street are ready for spring, suddenly in full flower after only a few days of warm weather, and snow, ice and a freeze just four days ago. They are about two weeks later than usual, and have even bloomed as early as a month before now. It’s good to see them now.

It’s taken with my smartphone which doesn’t catch the details my DSLR would capture, but I just had to get it in the moment.

. . . . . . .

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

Sidewalk Sunflower

tar and spraypaint on sidewalk

Sidewalk Sunflower

It’s about the only thing blooming around here!

Perhaps they are learning from my neighbor children with their sidewalk chalk. Usually the utility workers with their spray cans are not so artistic. This is apparently a gas line access, since the gas company uses school bus yellow to mark their utility lines. Instead of the usual “X” or “+” depending on your perspective, this person added an extra crossbar. When slight depression left for the access plate was filled in with asphalt, the gritty, grainy black looked like sunflower seeds crowding the center of a sunflower, making the yellow crossbars look like petals.

Tree Armor

Honey locust tree

Girded With Thorns

So what do you do if a dinosaur wants to eat you, but you’re a tree named honey locust and you can’t run away? You grow big mean-looking, and no doubt painful if eaten, thorns and call yourself a thorny locust. This tree also has wild grapevines growing on it, but the thorns are growing on long thin stems out of all the branches, wrapping around and around the tree as well as dangling off of it all around the perimeter. It is still a honey locust, even with such thorns: the pods they produce with their seeds, which look like huge flat leathery beans, have a pulp inside that is sweet and crisp.

honey locust thorns

Thorns

. . . . . . .

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

Patiently Waiting

colorful marbles in the sun

Patiently Waiting

I needed another dose of my marbles in the sun. The warm weather went away and the rains came and the cold wind. Hopefully it’s just for a day and I will patiently wait.

See also “Lost My Marbles”

. . . . . . .

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

Finally, Forsythia

forsythia

Forsythia

I don’t think my forsythia has ever bloomed this late, and I’m so glad to see it, bright and yellow, these mornings, along with the daffodils.

. . . . . . .

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

Things Found on the Street

doll's arm on pavemetn

Things Found on the Street

Literally. No hidden meanings unless you want to find one.

. . . . . . .

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

Dressy Lamps

A paper lamp by Katy DeMent.

Dress Lamps

From across the street, a lingerie display? But not among the art galleries during Unblurred along Penn Avenue.

Close up they are actually lamps, handmade paper garments and sculptures by paper artist Katy DeMent wired with a light so they cast a soft and natural light through her handmade paper.

A paper lamp by Katy DeMent.

A paper lamp bodice3 by Katy DeMent.

Katy told me, “I’m a seasoned paper maker from Atlanta (20+years, teaching at Society for Contemporary Craft and Phipps locally) now living in Highland park. I was not in that space during first Friday as I had work in 4 other places including the Hotter than Hell fashion show at Glass Center that evening, (Garfield art works) , had my skeleton as part of Artists Against Fracking, and Most Wanted Fine Art had another paper dress. “

A paper lamp by Katy DeMent.

A paper lamp dress by Katy DeMent.

You can find Katy’s work on her Facebook page, and she also has an Etsy shop—you’ve got to see her handmade paper wedding dress. She’ll be at Three Rivers Arts Festival June 12-15 left of the big stage.

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 422 other followers

%d bloggers like this: