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“Safe”, original framed pastel

"Safe", pastel, 15" x 20", 2015 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Safe”, pastel, 15″ x 20″, 2015 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

This painting is entitled “Safe”, 15″ x 20″ , done in soft pastel on Strathmore pastel paper.

ABOUT THE ARTWORK

This work was one of my new paintings for the 2015 Wings & Wildlife Art Show at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. It’s called “Safe”, done pastel from my photo references. It’s the two does who have visited my backyard for the past two years. They would often scurry through my woodland garden to the overgrown area between all our yards when I came outside, and though they were in plain sight of about six houses they apparently felt they were safe—and they were, really, because when I looked at the reference photo for this I wondered why I’d taken a photo of the brush at the end of the yard, and then I saw the ears.

The original is framed with a 4″ white acid-free mat and a 1.25″ white painted arched wood frame.

You can find the original in my Etsy shop along with framed and unframed prints.

SHIPPING AND CHARGES

Shipping within the US is included in the cost of each print.

Prints up to 16″ x 20″ are shipped flat in a rigid envelope. Larger prints are shipped rolled in a mailing tube unless otherwise requested; flat shipping is an extra cost because it’s oversized.

GICLEE PRINTS

The giclees are printed on acid-free hot press art paper for a smooth matte finish using archival inks. Giclee is the highest quality print available because the technique uses a dozen or more ink ports to capture all the nuances of the original painting, including details of the texture, far more sensitive than any other printing medium. Sometimes my giclees look so much like my originals that even I have a difficult time telling them apart when they are in frames.

I don’t keep giclee prints in stock for most of my works. Usually I have giclees printed as they are ordered unless I have an exhibit where I’ll be selling a particular print so there is a wait of up to two weeks before receipt of your print to allow for time to print and ship.

DIGITAL PRINTS

Digital prints are made on acid-free matte-finish natural white 100# cover using archival digital inks. While digital prints are not the quality of a giclee in capturing every nuance and detail of color, texture and shading, I am still very pleased with the outcome and usually only I as the artist, could tell where detail and color were not as sharp as the original. Digital prints are only available up to 11″ x 17″ and some of the prints are cropped to fit standard mat and frame sizes.

Digital prints have at least 1/2″ around the edges depending on the size of the print. All are countersigned by me.

CANVAS PRINTS

Because the standard size canvas prints are not proportional to the original painting, canvas prints of this painting will have a portion cropped off.

I usually have at least one of the smaller sizes of canvases on hand, but order larger ones as they are ordered because I have limited storage space. Smaller canvases are a 3/4″ in depth, Canvases 12 x 16 and larger are 1-1/2″ in depth. I set them up so the image runs from edge to edge, then the sides are black or white or sometimes I slip in a color that coordinates with the painting. This canvas mirrors the edges of the image around the sides.

FRAMED PRINTS

I do all my own framing and can custom frame a print for you. Please ask.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Changes Like the Season

Just napping, lionesses at the Pittsburgh Zoo.
    Just napping, lionesses at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Just napping, lionesses at the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Today, a season changes. The change is not a sudden flip from one scene to the next but a subtle change of light and the tone of the shadows, a scent in the air, and a knowledge that something has changed that will never turn back. Summer has taken a step toward autumn, when the wild and abundant growth of the season ebbs and living things prepare to harvest or be harvested. It is both the cross-quarter festival of Lugnasadh, reflecting on the death of what has grown that now gives us life and sustenance, and the Christian Feast of Lammas, or Loaf-mass, when the first loaves of bread were baked from the year’s first harvest of wheat.

We’ve mourned the loss of a member of our animal kingdom, a wild but oddly friendly lion, unique in color, tagged by us humans in a way that teaches us about him and the way his species lives. Funny, you’d think for the millennia humans have shared the Earth with lions and the myriad ideals lions symbolize in nearly all cultures around the globe we’d know all about lions. But mostly what we know about lions is how to kill them, sometimes for protection, sometimes for food, and sometimes for the need to prove we are the dominant species on this planet. Only now, in this century and the last, have we humans mounted a serious campaign to actually learn about the king of beasts and his society instead of competing with him.

Why does the death of Cecil touch us so? Why him instead of all the other deaths of imperiled species and domestic animals and our pets and people too? In part because of its heinous nature, the trickery involved, Cecil’s suffering, the unfairness of how and why he was killed, and the absolute stupidity of trophy hunting itself—killing an animal just to prove you could kill it and taking its outer identity as a prize, even though the “hunt” was staged at little risk to the “hunter”. No doubt it’s also partly because in his way he reached out to us, and we felt free to reach back to him, and now we’ve lost a social link with a species we fear and hardly know and we may never have that link again.

Perhaps the calls for punishment for his death and an end to the practice of trophy hunting is a reflection of our regret for that loss, and while it seems to be centered on Cecil, it really extends to all the wild animals among whom we’ve lived in our time on earth but about whom we also know little but how to kill. Perhaps now we feel we can leave behind our fear of these animals and we feel safe enough to live in peace with them. Possibly some of us actually do.

But change comes slowly, like the seasons, leaf by leaf, grain by grain, moment by moment, day by day, until one day we notice the leaves are changing color and the fields are a sea of warm and waving amber and a new season is upon us and there is no turning back. Pets had always been considered expendable in evacuations but ten years ago people refused to leave their pets behind in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. That wasn’t the first time people had refused, it was one of a growing number of times, but it became a tipping point after which pets became part of the emergency plan. Cecil was a tipping point, many unjust animal deaths led up to the outcry against his killing, and we’ve taken a step or two farther in really, honestly, protecting wild species and in respect for the other living things on this planet and possibly finally learning about them. Everyone isn’t moving along at the same pace, but the standards have changed and there is no turning back.


This was first published on The Creative Cat. Read more Essays on The Creative Cat.

All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


 

© 2015 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
Weekly schedule of features:
Sunday: Essays, Pet Loss, Poetry, The Artist’s Life
Monday: Adoptable Cats, TNR & Shelters
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Wednesday: Commissioned Portrait or Featured Artwork
Thursday: New Merchandise
Friday: Book Review, Health and Welfare, Advocacy
Saturday: Your Backyard Wildlife Habitat, Living Green With Pets, Creating With Cats
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!
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A Visitor

Squirrel having a drink at the birdbath.
Squirrel having a drink at the birdbath.

Squirrel having a drink at the birdbath.

When all the cats gathered at the windows and door and grew suddenly quiet, I knew we had an important visitor. And because the light was so special I got a number of really nice photos through the windows. I was focused on his reflection because the angle and the light were so good for that, and if it hadn’t been for the whirlybirds in the water I would have gotten a really nice one. Still nice photos though, with all the green coming through.

Squirrel having a drink at the birdbath.

Squirrel having a drink at the birdbath.

Squirrel at attention.

Squirrel at attention.

Squirrel having a drink at the birdbath.

Squirrel having a drink at the birdbath.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Squirrely

Squirrely
Squirrely

Squirrely

I have plenty of photos of squirrels, but I like the background colors in this one, and the contrast between cool and warm. All that soft blue and green is actually my neighbor’s recycling bin and garbage bags and car. You just never know how things will turn out.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Sing Your Song

Sing Your Song
Sing Your Song

Sing Your Song

The wren may be the size of your thumb but she fills the morning.

I have been trying to get this photo for years, the wren standing up with her head thrown back and her mouth open, especially in the morning light. They flit around so fast and I’m often photographing through my window so I can’t follow their flight. But I heard a sudden burst of wren song and looked out to see this little one on the deck railing. I focused and caught one-two-three photos as she hopped a step or two between each verse and looked to see…that I had forgotten to change the filter on my camera from incandescent to average balance, so the three photos were tinted very blue. I can remove that, but I also noticed that the plastic bag I’d used to line a hanging basket on the edge of the deck railing (the cocoa shell liner is seen at the right edge) had been pulled up by either one of the squirrels or one of the birds, and it just wasn’t something I wanted in this lovely photo. I had one more chance before she hopped behind the post and flew off, and this was that one chance.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Going Downhill

Buddy digging in the ivy branches for goodies.
Buddy digging in the ivy branches for goodies.

Buddy digging in the ivy branches for goodies.

Yes, Buddy the squirrel really is climbing down the tree headfirst, and digging between the ivy branches for something that must be awfully tasty.

Where to next?

Where to next?

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Le Matin Bleu

cat in silhouette
cat in silhouette

Le Matin Bleu

I believe it is Bella looking sculptural as a silhouette and graceful as an elongated shadow among all the geometric shapes and shadows of my kitchen in the morning.

The blue is because I left the incandescent light filter on in my DSLR, and this is what it does to natural daylight. I actually quite like it as a technique. I like monochromatic photos and duotones, which is technically what this is, black in the shadows and with all other colors tending in shades of blue.

Pourquoi Français? Because I already have a post or two entitled “Blue Morning”, and Mimi, Mewsette and I all have French names. Because, why not?

Seen first on The Creative Cat.

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All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.

 


Ducks in Diamonds

mallard ducks on water
mallard ducks on water

Ducks in Diamonds

Brilliant sun for once, and somewhat mild temperatures brought out all the wildlife on my walk to Main Street. The mallard ducks who live on the creek came out to have a little swim. The sunlight was so bright on the water but it also brought out all the colors reflected on the water from the sky to buildings and even vehicles.

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The Christmas Moon copyright ©2011 Bernadette E. Kazmarski. All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.


Enter: Three WITCHES

THREE BLACK CATS WITH LAMP AND PUMPKIN

ENTER; Three Witches

When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

Guess the kids have been getting into my literature textbooks again. I thought my Riverside Shakespeare was too heavy for them, but there is no getting in the way of a determined reader. Now that they’ve mastered Act 1, Scene 1 of MacBeth, I can’t wait to see how they interpret Scene 2.

Maybe reading to them as kittens really did work.

Actually, Mimi, Mewsette and Giuseppe were gathered around the lamp “to keep warm” as they said, because the temperature was all of about 65 degrees. Time to get out the cozy beds!

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You many not know that I have five rescued black cats, just by chance–they are all related. Right now I also have two foster kittens who are also–black! Halloween is a great day for us. You’re going to see a few more photos, and you can also join us on The Creative Cat for more every day!


Madame Mewsette Will Tell Your For-tuna

madame mewsette

Madame Mewsette will tell your for-tuna!

This card, “Madame Mewsette Will Tell Your For-tuna” features Miss Mewsette, who has a strong sense of the dramatic and arranged herself in this living still life, then looked at me as I walked through the room at night, probably preparing dinner. Where’s my camera?! And my tripod for this one, a difficult shot with the lamp contrasting with the very dark areas around, but Mewsette was patient. Here is what I included in the post adapted to the back of the card:

This is what Mewsette is dressed up as to celebrate this evening’s events. And she didn’t even have to put on one embarrassing garment or accessory.

When I attended Catholic grade school, we were to dress up as our patron saint for All Hallow’s Eve, and dressing up as St. Bernadette was pretty easy for me as I already tended to wear peasant-style clothing and St. Bernadette didn’t suffer any dire injuries or horrible torture like some of the other saints, she just lived to be very old, despite Lourdes.

Well, I think Mewsette is dressed up as one of her patron kitties—she is quiet and introspective, unlike her brothers, and I can just see her in the role of a familiar or a gypsy fortune-teller!

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You many not know that I have five rescued black cats, just by chance–they are all related. Right now I also have two foster kittens who are also–black! Halloween is a great day for us. You’re going to see a few more photos, and you can also join us on The Creative Cat for more every day!


Mewsette’s Minions

black cat with pumpkins
black cat with pumpkins

Mewse4tte and her minions.

You many not know that I have five rescued black cats, just by chance–they are all related. Right now I also have two foster kittens who are also–black! Halloween is a great day for us. You’re going to see a few more photos, and you can also join us on The Creative Cat for more every day!

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Awake, my minions, it’s Halloween! You know the plan—world domination by black cats via Halloween pumpkins! For every pumpkin a black cat! Now, go forth and find homes, and at midnight you will each become a black cat waiting in a shelter for a forever home!

We could only wish finding homes for black cats was that simple and fun. But tomorrow, you could go out and adopt a black cat from a shelter or rescue, even if you don’t have a pumpkin in your yard tonight! Think of the beauty of Mimi and her children and Emeraude, and consider adopting a black cat for your Halloween treat!

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I first published this in 2010 under the title “Help, Mom’s Gone Crazy” because Mewsette and all the other beautiful black cats couldn’t figure out what I wanted them to do with the pumpkins!

I just can’t figure out what she wants me to do but it has something to do with these pumpkins! Sometimes mom gets these crazy ideas and she chases us around the house and tries to get us to do things that we don’t understand, and she’s been after us with these pumpkins for days. I can’t wait till Halloween is over and mom gets back to normal!

Yesterday while mom was working on her computer I saw a few kitties wearing silly costumes. It’s just a really good thing she didn’t try that, and that’s all I’ll say on that subject.

You many not know that I have five rescued black cats, just by chance–they are all related. Right now I also have two foster kittens who are also–black! Halloween is a great day for us.


And Your Little Dog Too

Is it really just a bunch of mannequins...?

Is it really just a bunch of mannequins…?

They really did look real, and I totally appreciated the setting of white on white in all that cotton and feathers and pearls and faux fur and just a few touches of black and red, and even the little Italian greyhound coordinated with the arrangement. But wait a minute…

italian greyhound

Or is someone being very good?

He’s real! He sighed and his paw twitched! And if you look closely you’ll see that the woman has her toenails painted to match the dog’s vest!

I walked past this shop over the weekend when I was camera happy on a lovely day. The shop was closed so I didn’t get a chance to stop in and ask the dog’s story, but if I’m over that way again I’ll stop in if they are open.

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

All images in this post are copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski and may not be used without prior written permission.


Safe Camouflage

wild rabbit under tree
wild rabbit under tree

Safe Camouflage

“Is it safe to come out?”

Each year around this time a juvenile bunny moves into our yard, pretty well grown up now and ready to winter over to be ready for spring. They nestle into the brush piles I have round the fence, judging by where I see their tracks leading to and fro in the snow. They visit areas in the front and back yards near the bird feeders. I know they eat bird seed sometimes, and they also clean up all the little sprouts around the bird feeders, even those that happen to sprout in mid winter.

Though I am close to the street, the area is well-protected for little critters. That spruce is taller than my house and blocks the wind, and I leave the branches dense on the south-facing side of the tree. The bare branches on the shaded sides of the tree are great cover for little birds, and along with the shrubs along my property line down the side of the house it’s pretty snug.

We won’t see too much of the bunny during the day as the weather gets colder, but I always see both the front yard and back yard bunny out at night in winter, and find lots of tracks in the snow. For now our front yard bunny tucked neatly in under the edge of the spruce and the burning bush.

See another view of our bunny on The Creative Cat.

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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.


Animals

Kele, a barred owl
Kele, a barred owl

Kele, a barred owl

This is Kele, a barred owl who I met today at the Wildbird Recovery Fall Migration Festival, a wonderful way to celebrate the first day of autumn. The facility rehabilitates and returns injured wild birds and provides refuge to the ones too injured to return to the wild, as well as a few other animals. In May I rescued a starling that had been clipped by a car on my street, and took it to this facility; in thanks for what they do I donated a print of a painting to this event.

There were may more than I could share here; the sky was bright one moment and completely overcast the next, making photographs of some animals prone to constant movement less than successful.

Below, Kele makes an emphatic point with his wings and tail, showing some of the bars that make up his species name. If you look closely you’ll see the top curve of her beak is a little off-center. He was found by a hiker on a nature trail and had apparently fallen from his nest at a very young age which caused the unfixable beak injury as well as a wing injury. Whether or not the bird is returned to the wild is not the decision of the rehabbers but of the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture through an application by the rehab facility explaining the animal’s health issues. Both of Kele’s injuries prohibit him from flying or hunting in the wild, so he got a job at Wildbird Recovery as an education bird, as did a few others below.

barred owl

Kele shows off his bars

Below are Aleron and Lucian, two screech owls apparently waiting for dusk and ignoring the humans. Note how much their feather patterns look like tree bark. When the screech owl took up residence in my maple tree in the front of my house, I heard him but could not find him until I got out the flashlight after a few nights of hearing the whinnying calls. Now we have conversations at night sometimes; he has taught me well how to imitate him.

The feathers in the disk around an owl’s eyes work as a funnel to direct the sound to the owl’s ears. Each species of owl has a different disk around the eyes.

Aleron & Lucian, Eastern Screech-Owls

Aleron and Lucian, Eastern Screech-Owls

Below is Orion, an American Kestrel, the smallest falcon in North America. They are predator and prey—when they fly in search of food on the ground, their underside feathers are blue, white and tan, which disguises them against the sky to any animal looking up at them, yet from the top they are tan and gray and brown so they are disguised from birds of prey.

Orion, an American Kestrel

Orion, an American Kestrel

I didn’t get to know everyone’s name. For a few other friends I met today, here is a handsome colt trying to charm me into unlocking the gate.

colt

A young colt having a great time in the paddock.

And here is a sweet donkey who probably thought I was digging in my bag for treats rather than for my camera.

donkey

One of several donkeys.

And if there was ever a bird that looked as if it was put together from the spare parts of other birds, it is the Muscovy Duck, domesticated for centuries from wild ducks and raised for meat. They rarely escape, but are sometimes kept as pets and abandoned.

A Muscovy Duck

A Muscovy Duck

You can read more about Wildbird Recovery, other education birds and their programs on their website.

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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.


Poem for Sunday: The Gift of a Morning

tortoiseshell cat in greens

Cookie in my garden.

I’ll be speaking a little later today about “Loving Again After Loss, Why We Adopt Pets” at the Pet Memorial Sunday Ceremony by Chartiers Custom Pet Cremation and remembering again all the cats who came to shape my life and left me a better person.

Just as my cats have inspired me to visual art, so have they inspired me to creative writing. I’m sharing three poems here about or inspired by Cookie, Kelly and Moses, both as text and audio/visual where I’ve had the opportunity to record my reading of the poem and create a slideshow of images to accompany. The Gift of a Morning was awarded both a Certificate of Excellence and Muse Medallion by the Cat Writers Association, and was written simply about a moment of beauty inspired by Cookie.

I had included the remarks below with the post of Things I Found in the  Woods, and it is a reflection of the continuum my evolving family of felines has been in my life:

Ten years ago I lived with a largely different group of nine cats, only Cookie and Kelly still with me from those days. Ten years from now the group will be similarly changed. But each of them from before this time and the years to come is forever a part of my life.

…now all my losses have become one and are no longer losses, not a big chasm of dark sadness but a bright collective of memories of all their lives mingled with mine in the same way I remember the turns of the seasons. Their losses are not separate from me and my life, but their lives are a permanent part of who I am and the cats I live with today as I remember being in the garden with Moses, the day I first saw Stanley with ice crystals collecting on his fur, the way the furniture was arranged when I moved in here and everyone collected on the table by the door when I left in the morning, watching Mimi outside and deciding she should come to live with me.

Their lives are not a part of my past, but of my present; just as the earth holds the memories of all that’s past and turns it into new life, so do I.

Cookie gave me many gifts in all the years she was with me, including the visual discoveries from this particular morning in September 2011 which led to a poem and insights beyond what I wrote that morning, and remembering that morning and other mornings I have come to the end of a stage. The poem text and an audio version of the poem with a slideshow are at the end of this post.

Read more of the original post, which includes a remembrance of Cookie.

Here is the poem, and you can also watch it with the embedded video, below, or view it on YouTube.

The Gift of a Morning

I thought Cookie
was being stubborn, contrary,
when she wandered away
into the overgrown garden
sauntering at her own pace beneath the stems
of fallen burdock and grasses
and through the forest
of tall goldenrod and asters
where I couldn’t follow.

She sat calmly among grasses and blooming beggar’s ticks
and when I arrived at her side, irritated,
skirt prickly with stickseed and burdock pods,
I reached to pick her up, bad girl,
and turned to see what she studied,
and saw my garden awash with sun
majestic tufts of goldenrod backlit by beams of light
humming with hungry bees finding
the sweetest autumn nectar for their final meal,
white poofs of sow thistle holy in their radiance,
and the first calico asters, my favorite
dappled with passing drops of sun
against the backdrop of dark silhouetted trees;
so much to love in a sweet autumn morning
so much I would have missed.

poem © 2010 B. E. Kazmarski


Migrating Monarchs

monarch on leaf
monarch on leaf

Monarch butterfly on mulberry leaf.

It is thought that butterflies represent the souls of loved ones who’ve departed.

This monarch was resting on a cool leaf as it traveled through the neighborhood. It only stopped to rest in several areas, though my yard is still fresh with phlox and echinacea, two of any butterfly’s favorite foods. Likely the monarch is looking for milkweed plants to lay its eggs as it travels south. (Last September I featured a few photos of Munching Monarchs, monarch caterpillars munching away on milkweed leaves, one of my favorite sets of photos.)

Butterflies and birds are all in migration now, and the ones you see at your feeders and in your yard are likely not the ones you saw all summer. The same species of birds move farther south from their summer ranges, from Canada to the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic U.S., for instance, or from Pennsylvania to Florida, making it seem as if the same birds visit your feeders all year long.

And now is an especially important time to keep feeders and birdbaths filled for birds and butterflies who need to make a quick stop for nourishment before they move on. I have a few decorative additions to my garden and birdbaths for butterflies that hold a small amount of water in a shallow cup, a small luncheon plate on a tree stump that holds a small amount of water and I also keep a flat rock in the middle of a birdbath, all safe and convenient landing spots for butterflies to stop and have a sip.

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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.


Poem for Sunday: Things I Found in the Woods

fern frond in the woods

A delicate fern frond reaches for the sun from last year’s dried stems.

Every year the winter opens up to a few days of warm intoxicating sun and mud in January or February, and I’ve run outside to celebrate the day. In 2012 it was February 5, two days after my 20-year-old tortoiseshell kitty Cookie died, and as I enjoyed the warm day and remembered this poem, I knew exactly what I wanted to create as a dedication to my faithful heart cat, my best friend.

I originally wrote this poem in 2006 for another senior Kitty, Moses, as I knew her body was failing and she had little time left, and in 2012 was glad to dedicate my first recording of one of my poems to Cookie, leading me to a new means of expression and sharing my creative efforts. I have a link to the recorded poem with slideshow at the end of this article along with a few notes about creating it. You can read and listen to the poem and also more about Cookie, Moses, and the creative inspirations of my feline muses in this post on The Creative Cat; here on Today I have only the poem and the recording.

Things I Found in the Woods

Dedicated to Moses, the most gentle, loving being I have ever encountered.

Tiny rivulets of water released from thawing soil
flowing beneath last year’s debris, trickling and gurgling all around
hurrying down hillsides before the freeze returns.

A cup-shaped fungus holding a tablespoon of snowmelt
for a song sparrow to sip, practicing its vernal melody
for the time when spring arrives in earnest.

Ferns, newly-green, draped on cliffs,
fluttering like garlands in the mild, caressing breeze
gathering a little nourishment to last the rest of the winter.

Fallen trees blanketed with bright green moss,
thick and lush already in the brief January thaw
filling a span of life in but a few days.

Four young white-tailed deer, capricious as the gusts,
feeling the flush of their first spring as adults
cavorting as if winter might not return tomorrow.

An understanding that life and love are cycles,
and that the moment must be taken for what it offers
even if what it offers is not what we expect.

The strength and courage to show as much dignity as you,
and to walk this last precious part of your path with you
and when I can walk no more beside you
to let you go.

“Things I Found in the Woods” © 2006 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I had never before experienced the spring thaw in such wonderment at the transience of life—still winter but everything that lived was taking advantage of the moment.

So was Moses. So should I.

So I resolved just to let her follow her course and she would let me know what to do.

Listen to the Poem

I have always enjoyed reading my poetry to others, and had always wanted to try a little multi-media project including a slideshow of photos with narration. In February 2012 I lost my 20-year-old kitty Cookie, my best friend from practically the day she joined my household as a rescue and who spent many long days and nights over those years staying by my side as I found my creative life; I created this first recorded presentation in honor of her.

There are no photos of Cookie or any other cats in this; though I wrote it for Moses and dedicate this project to Cookie, it is what I found I feel about love, loss, and letting go. I was led to this knowledge, of course, by my cats. Thank you, my feline muses, as always, for showing me the way.

It’s also not timed quite right as some of the groups of images are shorter or longer than the stanza. Some of the photos I included at the end are from significant moments, for instance, the asters on Cookie’s picnic table bench from a morning Cookie and I were in the yard last October, the “Wolf Moon” in the bare tree and the sunset with the evening stars references to my mother who also passed last year at this time. Coordinating, more or less, with the second verse, the forsythia with the tiny song sparrow in the middle of it is actually from the morning of February 2 as I held Cookie on my lap and knew her process of dying had begun; it was the day of transition from winter to spring and all the birds were singing their spring songs, and a song sparrow landed very near to us and sang for a while.

I could have gotten a better microphone too, but I will stop explaining and making excuses, and I hope you enjoy it. Watch the video below or click here to see the video on YouTube, “Things I Found in the Woods”.

“Things I Found in the Woods” recording © 2012 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

I read this poem as part of my 2008 annual poetry reading and art exhibit, “Winter Twilight”.

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

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.


Reflection

black cat looking out window
black cat looking out window

Mewsette reflects on the morning.

Mewsette gazes out the window reflecting on the soft winter morning as it reflects on her.

I spend a lot of time photographing my cats, in part just because they are there. First thing in the morning watching them enjoy the sun as they go about their feline activities awakens my creative sensibilities for the day as I look at compositions, shapes, colors and patterns. Right now, my entire household of five are black, and while that may sound dull they are a challenge and an inspiration.

For this shot I used my old faithful—and original—fully manual 50mm lens from my Pentax K-1000 with a 1.5X converter. The shallow focal depth allowed me to focus on her eye and the details literally reflected there while the rest of her features and the background are softened. The 50mm is also f1.8, unlike my f3.5 digital lens, and when photographing black cats, especially in challenging lighting conditions, the more light the better.


Cool Cat Mimi

black cat looking through deck railing
Mimi in cool colors.

Mimi peeks through the deck railing to see the view from there.

Forgot to switch that incandescent filter off again today before Mimi and I went out on the deck on a warm morning for January. Again, I like the results of this one! The background is my back yard and the neighbor’s yards in winter, of course, and no snow, so it’s basically browns and neutral earth tones. But the watercolory effect of the background gradation through shades of green, violet and blue is lovely. Mimi looks nice in cool colors as well.

Never curse those creative accidents! They may not be what you want, but they may be better than what you’d planned.

I posted this yesterday on The Creative Cat and thought I’d also share it here. I post one or two photos of my own and others’ cats every day in my Daily Photos.


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

 


Squirrel Snack

Squirrel stuffing his cheeks full.
Squirrel stuffing his cheeks full.

Stuffing his cheeks full.

I complain about the squirrels and yell insults out the door when they yank down one of my feeders or chew through them to make big leaky holes, but they can be darned cute. This guy is sitting in a snowstorm nibbling on his squirrel corn, good boy, protecting himself from the wind and wet snow with his tail.

Squirrel eating from his dried corn on the cob.

Where to next?

Where to next?

Where to next?


Through the Looking Glass, and What Mimi Found There

black cat looking in mirror
black cat looking in mirror

Through the Looking Glass, and What Mimi Found There

This is a reflection of a reflection, with a reflection of reality as well.

Indeed it does look as if Mimi is ready to step into the looking glass; that mirror is at an angle in the corner next to the window and the reflections are uniquely angled and difficult to achieve.

But this photo, backward from the way it is seen in life, is of a reflection—in a mirror across the room from the window! I have a full-length mirror on one panel of the bathroom bi-fold door so that I can see myself from top to bottom before I face the world, and to give the bathroom the feel of a little more space. In the reflection in that mirror I can see an angle I’d never be able to achieve otherwise, at least not without also seeing myself in that mirror. But that also explains the odd greenish cast and the random light and dark blurry spots; the mirror on the door is rather old, like many other things around here.

Either way, Mimi and I both had an adventure with this photo shoot today.


You can find more photos of fine felines every day on The Creative Cat.


Shadow Kitty

shadows on door cat and leaves

Shadow Kitty, subtle

The gentle mixed shadows reminded me of an illustration, and yet it changed every second with the sun, moving near midday shining through layers of trees at a long angle into the bathroom window, past the tall maples and the shorter tulip poplar and even shorter mulberry to the pussy willow right outside the window. Jelly Bean sat on the sink, head tilted toward the faucet, waiting for his human to “get it”, just the top of his head showing at the very bottom of the frame.

Then just a little later he moved up to the windowsill and look like a monster kitty heading into the room!

shadows on door cat and leaves

Shadow Kitty, large.


You can see more images of cats on The Creative Cat. All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


Camouflage, 2011

rabbit under tree
rabbit under tree

Camouflage

I only noticed her because about five of my cats were very quietly clustered near the front door, keeping very still, which is very unusual for them. I saw nothing until I walked outside, and I realize she must have been grazing around under the birch and froze when I came out. Her stillness made for a good shot in that shadow, though if I didn’t have an eye for details she would have been perfectly camouflaged.


Autumn Sun

tortoiseshell cat on windowsill
tortoiseshell cat on windowsill

Autumn Sun

Kelly lazily observes something high up the sunny window as the sun’s warmth both shines and reflects on her, from 2008. The light is so warm and the various patterns of hammered glass in the window create a feeling of seclusion and solitude, and all these reasons drew Kelly to this window regularly on all her years here.

See a few more photos from this series on The Creative Cat.


All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check my Etsy shop or Fine Art America profile to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.