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

holiday

The Thanks of a Grateful Nation

the veterans flag
The Veterans Flag

The Veterans Flag

My personal tribute to veterans everywhere, beginning with my father, veteran of WWII.

This is a small portion of the flag I fly on appropriate holidays, and sometimes when I just feel like it. It’s the flag that was presented to my mother at my father’s funeral, he a veteran of the U.S. Army and deserving of the honors at the death of a veteran. He’d been cremated so there was no coffin to drape, no taps or honor guard, just a few of his Army buddies were there but in the end it was the funeral director who handed the folded flag to my mother, not quite protocol, but the recognition was appreciated.

My mother gave the flag to me; she had a nylon flag that had flown over the White House that our congressperson had given her and she found it much easier to raise on the flag pole. I could see why—this flag is about 5′ x 8′ and sewn from heavy cotton bunting, and once when it was caught in a heavy downpour it was so heavy it nearly knocked me down as I pulled it from the pole and tried to pile it in my arms; I don’t think anyone would find it an act of disrespect to have tossed it in the dryer, and it did not shrink one inch.

Extremely well-made, and in the USA no less, the individual strips of fabric that make the stripes are stitched together with flat felled seams that fold in all the edges and stitch two seams across the bulk to ensure strength, and this stitched in the same way to the blue field for the stars. Each star is thickly embroidered onto the blue field, raised above the surface on both sides with the thickness of the threads. The hems, binding and grommets are likewise quality materials and stitching. Of all the other fabric items I handle every day, this flag always feels very different to me as I carefully unfold it and attach it to the special pole I have to ensure it doesn’t touch the ground when hanging. Instead of flapping in the breeze or wind, it waves gracefully as if under its own strength. It has a dignity all its own. I am glad I have this flag and will always take care of it in honor of my father who served in World War II.

My father in his uniform.

My father in his uniform.

Alfons J Kazmarski, Army of the United States Technician Fourth Grade, 115th Quartermaster Bakery Company, Asiatic Pacific Theater, India, enlisted 11 May 1942, discharged 21 Mar 1946.

Like so many others in this huge group of baby boomers, my father served in WWII, and like so many who served returned with untold stories and unhealed wounds; it’s actually presumed that the Parkinson’s Disease that shortened his life took hold of him as he fought the fevers of some tropical illness when serving in India.

But because of his service and my mother’s memories, I always felt like WWII was my war too, for better and for worse. But the war was not done when they came home. It changed their lives, and so it changed ours too. At their return, by their industry, the United States was transformed from an impoverished nation of immigrants to a wealthy and productive nation of members who would all win their place at the table, though for some the struggle continues.

And possibly because of the service of my parents’ generation I am a grateful daughter, and I fly my father’s flag with pride, especially on Veteran’s Day.

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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.

Friendship Friday on Create With Joy

Friendship-Friday-Button-150


Fireworks Over Water

fireworks
fireworks

Fireworks Over Chartiers Creek

Of all the fireworks photos I’ve taken, this is my favorite, and I took it with my first 2MP digital camera and a tall narrow tripod. This camera had no zoom so there was no real focus time, and it caught the action of the fireworks without hesitation.

This is over Chartiers Creek in Carnegie, not on July 4 but at the end of our community festival in 2003. Chartiers Creek flows right through the middle of town and bridges span it in several places, including these two bridges about 100 yards apart. The fireworks are being set off on the Main Street Bridge, I am on the Mansfield Street Bridge. The building to the right is the Husler building with houses the  Historical Society of Carnegie.

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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.


Memorial Day Parade, a pencil sketch

"Memorial Day Parade", 12" x 18", pencil, 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
"Memorial Day Parade", 12" x 18", pencil, 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

“Memorial Day Parade”, 12″ x 18″, pencil, 2008 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

The good old traditional parade on the good old traditional Main Street, in my home town of Carnegie, PA. I am not a big fan of parades but my mother loved them, so every year until the year before she died I set us up on Main Street regardless of the weather and we cheered along the high school marching bands and local dignitaries and fire companies and reenactors marching in the parade. Going out for an ice cream sundae afterward capped it off.

Each year our community held an art exhibit called “Carnegie Painted” for 2-D art depicting images of Carnegie; this was one of my entries in 2008, sketched from photos I had taken of the parade. Instead of color I decided to render it in pencil, in a style reminiscent of World War II cartoons. Pencil is so expressive, and it really reduces lines down to just what they need to be to get the point across, and this illustration style is almost impressionistic in its quality of line and level of detail.

Also, my father was a veteran of WWII, and my mother graduated high school and began her life during the war years—she considered it “her time”. I always felt as if I’d lived then with all the stories and memories. As my mother was growing older and finding and reading through my father’s service papers I actually came to feel closer to that time. This drawing in this style was a memory of that parade, of my mother, my father and a lot of other things combined. It all connects to a story I’m writing.

I sold the original, but have prints and notecards of it in various sizes. Visit my website to read about this and other pieces in my “My Home Town” series.

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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.


Soldier

civil-war era headstone with flag
civil-war era headstone with flag

Soldier

In the dense, comforting shade of a century-old spreading maple, a section of the row of headstones farthest back in the military veteran’s section, the first stones to be installed during the Civil War, reads only:

SOLDIER
1861–1865

A father, brother, husband, son of someone, unknown, but honored by a headstone that tells of his final sacrifice, rests there.

One of the most moving photos I took from the 2010 Memorial Day ceremony at Chartiers Cemetery, but perhaps the most fitting, no name, no rank, no distinguishing remarks, but the most common thread of all, a soldier.

And not just in remembering the Civil War, or even other conflicts following. My ancestors were fighting their own civil wars in Eastern Europe at the time of America’s Civil War, only one in a long line of civil wars that perhaps finalized their decisions to leave the only land they’d known to come to America for freedom and a chance at the dream they’d never see, not even today, in the lands where their families had lived for centuries. A few decades later, they had no qualms about bearing arms and traveling back to those lands to protect the country they had embraced as their home. Centuries of soldiers everywhere who fought for freedom, protected their loved ones, gave their lives, each brought us a step closer. May the day soon come when no one needs to die for freedom.

This photo is one of my most often-shared images from this site; I am honored. 

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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.


Holiday Lights in the Rain

holiday lights in the rain
holiday lights in the rain

Holiday Lights in the Rain

This particular little house was once a garage to a huge Victorian home. It not only faces the alley but the narrow porch steps right onto the sunken and undulating bricks of the alley. One would think it wasn’t the choicest place to live, yet I always see children and adults around, lots of toys and talk and play; it seems to be a happy little house. I wasn’t surprised to see this complete selection of holiday decorations.

The shining bricks and puddles in the alley reflect the holiday cheer. Note the homemade Steelers emblem in the left-hand window; no display in Pittsburgh would be complete without it.

I usually associate holiday lights with snow, or at least with a clear cold night, but I also love colorful night photography and especially rainy nights.

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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 Party on Main Street

election day
election day

Main Street on Election Day.

The sun was turning golden in late afternoon when I walked down to my polling place on election day in November 2012. Main Street looked lovely, and with this flag perfectly illuminated at the moment I walked toward it I thought what being able to cast a vote means to all of us in every town and city all over this country. We whine, boast, throw mud in each others’ faces, but in the end we have this one basic right that ensures us a say in what happens to us.

I thought of my mother and my older relatives, the children of immigrants who had left one tyranny after another and risked their lives to come here to freedom, that “greatest generation” always so proud to cast their vote. I drove them to the polls and was proudly introduced to their friends from grade school, also the children of immigrants, who were electoral workers. They are all gone now. They left this to duty me.

People die for this right all over the world, every day.

Women in this country died for this right less than 100 years ago.

African-americans in this country died for this right barely 50 years ago.

Veterans who served under this flag died to ensure this right to us in every conflict from our founding to today.

Standing there on the sidewalk with my camera pointed at this gently waving flag, waiting for the perfect moment, whatever that would be, I was intensely grateful for the safety of my street, for the people who honked and waved at me seeing what I was doing, for my freedom to creatively express myself without fear of reprisal, and I knew that, pacifist that I am, if any foreign nation came along to try to take that moment away from me I’d be on the front lines risking my life to keep this freedom for all of us.

I’m glad all I need to do is vote.

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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.


Bonfire Blue

bonfire
bonfire

Bonfire Blue

I liked this one too, just as it grew dark.

What is autumn without at least one bonfire? The crisp air nearly asks for the sharp scent of burning wood and the crackling of kindling in the cold night air, the sparks rushing upward to disappear just overhead. Perhaps with bonfires included in these autumn celebrations we are expressing that primordial fear of the coming darkness, the long nights growing longer, and the rituals of our ancestors that held the night at bay until it began growing longer again.

“Bonfire” is derived, in short, from “bone fire”, an annual ritual of Celtic peoples who burned animal bones at Samhain to ward off evil spirits, and of later European people who burned the oldest bones in crowded churchyards or cemeteries to allow space for new interrments and to ensure that those disinterred would not haunt them at All Hallow’s Eve, when uneasy spirits were known to come calling.

This particular bonfire burned only scrap lumber, wooden pallets and downed trees at the Nightwalk on the Panhandle Trail.

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


Warm

bonfire flames
bonfire flames

Heat

The bonfire at the weekend’s Halloween trail walk was built from wooden pallets which created a criss-cross pattern as they burned down, like little windows of warmth for the flames to escape.

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


Fireworks Over Water

fireworks
fireworks

Fireworks Over Chartiers Creek

Of all the fireworks photos I’ve taken, this is my favorite, and I took it with my first 2MP digital camera and a tall narrow tripod. This camera had no zoom so there was no real focus time, and it caught the action of the fireworks without hesitation.

This is over Chartiers Creek in Carnegie, not on July 4 but at the end of our community festival in 2003. Chartiers Creek flows right through the middle of town and bridges span it in several places, including these two bridges about 100 yards apart. The fireworks are being set off on the Main Street Bridge, I am on the Mansfield Street Bridge. The building to the right is the Husler building with houses the  Historical Society of Carnegie.

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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.


Pysanky

photo of pysanky on traditional cross-stitch cloth

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.