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

carnegie pa

End of the Day

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Ross Colonial Cemetery, a pre-Revolutionary family burial ground at the edge of a cliff that has overlooked the valley for milennia, at sunset on an autumn afternoon.

Copyright (c) 2015 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall
Rise and Fall

Rise and Fall

Another photo from the trail yesterday, how that road goes up and down and from deep shade to bright sun. I’ve ridden it on my bike many times and it’s very fun, but it’s also a beautiful walk. The colors just suddenly flared this weekend, just when it seemed we might not have much color at all for rain and then extreme heat.

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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.


A Walk in Autumn

A welcoming autumn trail.
A welcoming autumn trail.

A welcoming autumn trail.

I’ve been experimenting with my smartphone, trying to get the best photos from it, but it’s just not the same as my DSLR and an autumn walk clearly reminds me of that. I went out to a trail today to photograph two dogs who will be subjects of a commissioned pet portrait and we all had a good walk on the trail. I have more photos than I know what to do with, and I think I just like this camera better!

Above is a particularly lovely section of this trail, which had once been a road through a farm, then later paved for traffic, then the entire old farm made into a county park. This road didn’t receive too much vehicular traffic (except by me and a few others who enjoyed it), so at one point it was blocked off and a system of trails using the road, narrowed and repaved, and trails through the woods was set up. The sky in the photo below was not filtered by anything, only on a day with this much color is the sky this intense blue.

Another section of the trail.

Another section of the trail.

A little stream runs down the ravine and I couldn’t keep from finding the tiny waterfall. When I have more time I’ll work my way down to the stream and take a few other photos.

Sweet little waterfall in the shadows.

Sweet little waterfall in the shadows.

Another view of the waterfall, with the light on the stream above it.

Another view of the waterfall, with the light on the stream above it.

The colors of autumn were everywhere, in white and purple asters and yellow goldenrod, red and orange leaves and blue sky.

Yellow goldenrod with red and orange leaves and blue sky, what a lovely combination.

Yellow goldenrod with red and orange leaves and blue sky, what a lovely combination.

Purple asters at the edge of the woods with just a touch of pink smartweed.

Purple asters at the edge of the woods with just a touch of pink smartweed.

Many-flowered Asters blooming.

Many-flowered Asters blooming.

Here is my favorite photo of the dogs, Madison and Apollo, though it’s out of focus. Too bad I moved just a tiny bit and the camera refocused on the background instead of Apollo.

My favorite photo, too bad it's not focused.

My favorite photo, too bad it’s not focused.

Here’s another photo of the two.

Madison and Apollo were happy no matter what.

Madison and Apollo were happy no matter what.

Much of what we walked on was waste coal from long ago deep and strip mines.

The landscape is largely heaps of coal from the overburden from stripmining.

The landscape is largely heaps of coal from the overburden from strip mining.

The park was established on donated farmland that had been strip mined and the soil had nothing for growing. While Western Pennsylvania is known for its hills, most of these rises and ravines were formed by waste from coal mining, known as overburden, gob piles and a whole lot of other names. Left on its own it will eventually host hardy maples and a few other species that can grow in the acid soil that collects between the pieces of coal, but for the most part nothing else will grow there. But if you know what to look for, you can see by the shape and texture of the landscape, and the lack of undergrowth typical of the woods, what is soil and what is coal waste.

These slopes are made from gob piles, or heaps of coal waste from strip mining.

These slopes are made from gob piles, or heaps of coal waste from strip mining.

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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.


No. 27

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Walking down the alley in early autumn darkness, No. 27 showed its welcoming arc of light.

Copyright (c) 2015 Bernadette E. Kazmarski


Cutleaf Coneflower

Leaning
Leaning

Leaning

Autumn has as many yellow wildflowers as spring has pink ones. Sunflowers and asters and rudbeckias and cosmos grace the woods and streamsides and are difficult to tell apart. These yellow flowers grow on the bank of Chartiers Creek along with a few other species and I see them each year, each year I look them up again and they just don’t seem to match anything in the book, though they resemble about a half dozen flowers. Wildflowers can develop local adaptations or mutations too, so who knows?

The Gathering

The Gathering

But this year I’m figuring this is a cutleaf coneflower, rudbeckia laciniata, related to purple conflower, tall coneflower, gray headed coneflower…no matter what it’s named, its enthusiastic profusion of yellow is welcome at the end of summer when summer flowers have disappeared.

Profusion

Profusion

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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.


My Own Labor History

My apron from Isaly's, and my acceptance letter from Edinboro.

My apron from Isaly’s, and my acceptance letter from Edinboro.

When I was a senior in high school I began my first full-time job as a cook at a local deli, Isaly’s in Pittsburgh. Working part-time nights and weekends until graduation I trained in the day cook’s position of opening the kitchen at 6:00 am to cook the lunch entrée and heat up the soups, open the doors of the shop at 7:00 am for the first customers wanting coffee and a pastry or a brown bag lunch to go, serve meals and beverages and offer counter help at all the stations as needed, plan the weekly lunch specials and soups and order accordingly, also using leftovers, with as little waste as possible, keeping the kitchen and walk-in freezer clean, and deep frying 50 pounds of fish every Friday for a community that still observed this particular weekly fasting menu. Whew!

For this I was paid my full-time wage of $3.50 per hour for all the hours I worked and was an apprentice member of the Hotel, Motel, Bar and Club Workers’ Union, a subsidiary of the United Food and Commercial Workers’ Union, which ensured that my employer gave me what he’d promised—a reasonable schedule for a high school student, maintaining the hours and wages agreed upon, full training for the job I would undertake, and the ability to question or file complaint if anything didn’t meet the standards we’d discussed when I was hired. In addition, the union as well as the shop oversaw my performance, that I learned what I needed to and worked as expected. I guess I did because when I graduated in June the day cook could finally retire as I undertook her 40 hours of weekly duties and also became a full union member, and received full health and life insurance benefits, guaranteed raises and vacation, pension, plus all other union benefits of assistance with further training in my field and the ability to file grievance if I felt one was necessary, and my employer could also appeal to the union if they felt my performance wasn’t adequate.

Now that’s job security.

It was 1979, minimum wage in Pennsylvania was $2.90 per hour. Using the US government’s Bureau of Labor Statistics calculator for wages and inflation, my full-time wages of $3.50 per hour today translate to $11.26 per hour. My 1979 annual salary of $7,280.00 translates today to $23,423.95. Out of my wages I paid $20.00 monthly union dues, but all the rest after taxes was mine, and with that amount of income I could have moved out of my parents’ house into my own place and started my life as an adult, purchased my own clothes, food and necessities, bought a car and other commodities, and even managed to save a portion of it for retirement, a house, vacation, or even investment. In other words, I could live independently on the salary from a fairly unskilled job with training right out of high school. There were other, better jobs as well that required more effort and paid better, I had my choice. In my little spot in the world, nearly everyone was a union member, and a choice such as this had begun many a life-long career that raised many families, bought many houses, paid for millions of college educations and built the strongest economy in the world.

My choice

What I decided to do with that money was invest in my college education. At the same time that I’d applied for the job at Isaly’s I’d also applied, very late, to a state college, urged on by my high school guidance counselor, and been accepted; I’m not sure, but I think I took my SATs when I applied and got my results just in time. While there were, and still are, a dozen viable colleges and universities in Pittsburgh as well as dozens more trade schools and even other union apprenticeships where I could have attended while living at home, my guidance counselor gently pointed me to Edinboro State College, close enough to be easy to get to and full of students from Pittsburgh but far enough that I would have to live there, because they had a good art program and I could also have the option of a teaching degree with their long history as one of the state’s oldest teachers’ colleges. I didn’t have terribly good grades or SAT scores and no distinguishing activities at all aside from the fact I’d always been praised by teachers for my art and writing, but the school wanted students, and also had the lowest tuition of all the colleges in the Pennsylvania state college system at the time. It was perfect for me, beginner that I was.

My parents wavered between ignoring the idea and disdain at the idea I wanted to go to college. My father, we learned a few years later, had Parkinson’s disease, never said much and reactions were barely detectable, but my mother laughed and said I could try this but I’d probably come right back home; I was a minor so they signed my application at least. I don’t remember the reaction when I received my acceptance letter, probably because I’d rather not remember, but my mother was further angered when, while I’d dutifully signed over all other income from part-time jobs and even grass-cutting from the age of 14, I went to one of the banks on Main Street in Carnegie and opened a bank account, depositing my paychecks and learning from the teller how to manage the register and write checks. I actually didn’t think about the impact on my mother, it just made sense.

I paid my fees to the college, bought myself a set of luggage, some clothes, a winter coat and boots for life in what I heard was the “snow belt”, and a backpack, which seemed to be de rigueur for all college students and kept all the rest of the money in the bank. My parents filled out my financial aid forms, though after my first semester I declared myself independent of them and completed them myself. My boyfriend drove me up for Initiation Day just before he left for Air Force boot camp, and I told my employer about my change of plans.

Through the rest of the summer I worked and trained my replacement. On the day I left for college my mother stayed in bed while I piled all my stuff into the back seat of my father’s olive-green Impala and he drove me up, dropped me off, gave me the only hug I remember in all my life, and went back home. After attending four years, including summers, working five or six part-time jobs on and off campus the entire time, taking the bus home only for occasional holidays, making a fair number of misguided mistakes as well as good decisions, I graduated with 178 credits out of a necessary 120 to graduate, only $700 in student loan debt and a BA in English, but I learned much more than grammar and a love of Shakespeare.

Coming back

The world had changed dramatically during those four years as the steel industry and most of the economy in Pittsburgh had totally collapsed. Within years jobs like the one I’d had at Isaly’s no longer existed, and unskilled beginning jobs were non-union, often taken up by unemployed adults, and wages stagnated. For nearly a decade all jobs were uncertain, layoffs were common—I was laid off four times in my first three years out of college—and population dropped as people left for jobs elsewhere until Pittsburgh found its feet again, in education, health care, and hi-tech development and manufacturing.

I didn’t have the chance to go on with the education I’d planned, to teach English and comparative arts at the college level and become an artist and writer in my own right; soon after I’d graduated my father injured himself at his lifetime occupation as a baker in small family bakeries, was diagnosed with lung cancer and Parkinson’s disease and both parents needed assistance of all sorts. I worked any job I could find and began freelancing even then, and by the time my parents’ situation had stabilized with my father in a nursing home and my mother settled in the house but with a car and a drivers’ license, I had some debt to remove and, after a lot of deliberation, decided not to return to school but to try to make a career out of what I could do already. After many twists and turns both in and out of my field, I ended up being a typesetter for nearly 20 years as well as installing ceiling fans for cash and decorating malls and painting signs and all else I could make out of what I’d learned in college and afterward, here I am, self-employed as an artist and writer, and now and then I get to teach something.

My personal labor history

As a young person I was able to begin the course of my adult life by choosing between a skilled job at a living wage or a college education and what that could bring me later. The minimum wage (or even the 1979 server wage of $1.81 per hour plus tips) and slightly higher wage for skilled labor were each living wages and I could either start my career right then or work my way through college because my wages could sustain those choices.

I won’t bemoan the opportunities that are no longer available. The world changes as time passes, and hopefully the changes bring not only different but better opportunities, the things to which we are accustomed are replaced with things that make our lives better and easier, education matches the needs of society and its work force. But the days of working your way through college with a bunch of part-time jobs, or being able to live independently right out of high school, are so far out of reach it must seem to most people that there really are no choices, and no place to go. I was glad for the choice of an unskilled career job that enabled me to learn true independence, save money, and help me set sail, and I’m also glad for the college degree I could afford and without which I would have ended up living in my parents’ basement for the following decades. Today, I would not have the choices I had 34 years ago, and would certainly not have had the courage to make the decision I did to go to a four-year college and see what happened. How can you look forward to your life when your future seems out of reach and unaffordable? What do determined dreamers like me do? I’m not sure, but we need to find a place in the labors of our society for everyone.


September Morning on Main Street

East Main Street, early, Riley's Pour House is open with their flags out.
East Main Street, early, Riley's Pour House is open with their flags out.

East Main Street, early, Riley’s Pour House is open with their flags out.

“Around Carnegie this morning. I rode my bike to the grocery store early, but what made me think I’d be able to ride around on a beautiful summer morning without taking a few photos? Anything that was colorful and in the sun.”

Above is the photo that inspired me to post a gallery on Facebook, and one of my favorites. Below is the entire gallery; scroll over or click for title and caption.

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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.


Get Your Geese in a Row

Get Your Geese in a Row
Get Your Geese in a Row

Get Your Geese in a Row

“Getting your geese in a row. On Chartiers Creek in Carnegie.”

I had a meeting in Carnegie and walked to and fro. On the way back, about 2:00 in the afternoon with partly cloudy skies overhead. As I approached the bridge I could see geese in the water, coming out from under the bridge, first a little group, then single and evenly spaced almost in a perfect line. I got as many as my camera could get, and this time was happy for the focal distance in my smartphone as the line looks like it goes on into infinity. I used the “blue wash” filter and like the rainbow effect it put on the surface of the water.

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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.


Beauty Overall

Beauty Overall
Beauty Overall

Beauty Overall

I stood on a bridge and photographed the wildlife activity in the creek today as I walked my errand to the bank and back. A fish that looked like a carp that looked like it was planning on a little spawning was moving the silt around in the creek bed; I photographed the activity, trying to see it more clearly. I also happened to see a goose farther downstream, standing in shallow water, first silhouetted, then against a reflected background of foliage. I photographed the goose too.

A while later the goose decided to take a little swim and quickly came toward where the fish was busily moving the creek bed around with pushes from its tail. Along his way the goose passed over still and riffled water, and the span of ripples he created as he floated were lovely, and the goose was lovely too, in silhouette. That was a lovely series of photos, and the one featured here is one of those.

Then as it came closer to me I saw this goose’s wings weren’t folded as usual, and one wing was lifted higher and almost held over his back. He’d been injured, and possibly had a bad heal, but he was still carrying on with his business in the creek. I wondered if he could fly and decided I’d keep an eye out for him.

It was interesting that the position of his wing wasn’t noticeable until he was very close, and where seeing him up close the wing might have been the first thing to notice, it was a minor detail. Seeing the goose in the context of what he was about in his daily routine told far more about him than his physical appearance alone. The beauty in him was in his actions and the scene overall, and that only one detail.

I feel fortunate that I can walk my errand and see these things, something new each day, and find inspiration and enlightenment during my own daily routines.

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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.


Lunch and a Swim

Young Mallard
Young Mallard

Young Mallard

This young mallard combines both activities on a hot afternoon, wading in a shallow inlet and nibbling around in the plants growing on the bottom. I’ve been watching them grow and lately seen the little flock of seven venture farther from their mother. This was the first time they’ve been close enough for a photo.

That water looked very inviting on my way to and from the post office today.

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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.