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

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Art Glass Window

leaded glass window
leaded glass window

Art Glass Window

At first glance it looks like the common diamond pane casement leadlight window you’d find in any small mid-century stone house with a Tudor or medieval theme, but someone took an artful turn with it. It’s just a small light in a front door, at most 10″ x 24″, but it makes a statement in all that darkness around it.

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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.


The Patterns We Set

crochet and shadows
crochet and shadows

The Patterns We Set

The patterns we set

unaware of the impression

or the effect we leave behind.

copyright ©2014 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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

Inspire-Me-Monday-Button-1502

We are participating in Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy.


24 Years

Welcome

Welcome

Twenty-four years ago today I signed the mortgage on my home and got the keys, came back and stood on the front porch completely surprised it had actually happened.

Single women in their late 20s didn’t buy houses too often, especially not fixer-uppers. I was regularly asked where my husband was, what he thought and why I didn’t wait until I had one. I was also told, literally told, that I didn’t want a “house” because I was a girl and it would be so much easier to buy a condo because then there would be someone around to fix things and take care of the yardwork–I might not know what I was getting into and I should be careful.

I chose this house specifically because it was a fixer-upper, so I could turn it into what I wanted without having to pay for a bunch of things other people thought were improvements, like new wall-to-wall carpet and fresh paint. I never cared for wall-to-wall, and I can apply my own paint, thank you. And I’d been taking care of my parent’s house for years, inside and out, and rented a house for five years where I learned all the ways an old house needs love.

That house was due to be updated by the owners and I had to move out. Rent was so expensive in the late 80s and felt like a waste of money when a mortgage payment was less for more. I also had six rescued cats and wasn’t about to give up any of them for anyone’s lease. In fact, I wasn’t going to have anyone tell me how I was going to live. I’d paid my way through college, always worked full-time plus at least one part-time job, paid off my parents’ mortgage, paid to put my father in a nursing home, bought my mother a car, I didn’t feel I could continue with my master’s and any other degrees so I was at least going to have a house.

I had a savings and was easily approved for an FHA loan for no more than $30,000, and after looking for several months and finding a realtor who actually helped me look for the house I wanted instead of one more expensive because “you’ll be making more in a few years” or “you’ll get married and be able to sell”, I looked at just a few serious, good houses and found this one, and knew this was it. The house was small, but I walked into the back yard with all the trees around and the deck and felt right at home. The seller just didn’t know it yet, and still wanted $39,000.

A few weeks after I’d seen it I drove my mother to see it. As we drove up the street I saw fire trucks and people milling in the street. “I think that’s near the house,” I said. “In fact, it’s at the house!” The owners had moved out nearly a year before and the tile in the basement was picking up so the realtor had advised removing it and painting the floor because it looked bad and wasn’t going to stick anyway. The man attempted lifting up the glue with gasoline, with the hot water tank still lit. He survived with serious burns to his hands, and the house survived too. He quickly agreed to my offer. I spent some time with FHA issues like lead paint and leaks, but it was nothing I couldn’t handle. The basement was professionally cleaned and repaired and there was a brand new coat of plain white paint on the walls for the smoke damage.

I spent my first year or so undoing some of his other good ideas, like the gray smoke warped and stained wallboard and amber light fixtures in the bathroom, and the metal casement windows that had been painted and sealed shut with homemade plexiglas storm windows that completely covered the window openings and bolted to the wall. Between that and the unkempt back yard, I knew these people seriously did not want the outdoors to come in. I tossed open all the windows and doors when I’d been working on the FHA compliance and let the air inside.

I have heard by anecdote and small bits of proof that this little place was originally a two-story addition to another house on the corner. My realtor had told me this, a few older neighbors, and a customer service rep a the electric company who had grown up across the fence from this house. He was very young when they built the foundation and took the two-story sunroom off the wood-sided mansard-roofed Victorian on the corner and set this house on it; there is a two-story porch there now that is exactly the size of my house. My house is 15 ft x 22 ft, the joists run the short way as if they had attached to a house, it was clearly two rooms up and down because the walls don’t match upstairs and downstairs, and the pipes go up to the bathroom in a square bump-out in the corner of the kitchen. The roof does not have a soffit and fascia. The back wall sags a bit, and I presume that was the side attached to the house.

It was intended to be a starter home, inexpensive, easy for me to do a few repairs myself to save money, then pay for a few updates then sell it for a larger house where I could stay and run my business and do my artwork. I guessed I’d be here about 10 years. But the stress on my hands from all the fixups I did early on worsened the tendonitis and other damage in my hands from setting type and working on computers, and I decided to turn toward my art career instead.

My mortgage was sold through three corrupt mortgage companies from 2003 to 2009 and it’s been difficult to keep up with their bizarre requirements. I’ve been involved in a class action suit as well as gone to court and had several modifications, and I may have finally landed at the final one where the payment is actually a little less than my first payment 24 years ago. But it’s my little place. It’s a little small for all the things I want to do, but some days the world is too small for all the things I want to do. I’m happy to celebrate. It’s one of my early accomplishments, and it’s an anniversary I always celebrate, just by enjoying my home. I took a hiatus from improvements when I decided to focus on starting my business, and that was extended by caring fo my mother for a decade. Now it’s time to get back to business.

Here’s the first photo I saw, and what my house looked like the year before I bought it.

Realtor's photo of my house.

Realtor’s photo of my house.


Winter Vegetables

winter vegetables
winter vegetables

Winter Vegetables

One brief stripe of sun
last chance
before sunset,
the pause to smile
when leaving,
turns onions and potatoes
to bronze, rubies and gold.

Another new poem, like the Winter Sunset haiku. Perhaps it is the sunset in these dark days that is so inspiring.

poem © 2014 bernadette e kazmarski

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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.


Thank You, Whoever You Are

autumn ornament
autumn ornament

This one really caught me.

Thank you, whoever was the person who made the autumn decoration I purchased in the Family Dollar this week. Out of all the piles of things scrambled in displays as I headed for a roll of tape it completely caught my eye through the blinders I usually wear in stores like that, made me stop and focus on this display of little sprays of autumn leaves and ornaments, and I immediately wanted one.

I don’t usually purchase this sort of imported item, made cheaply and sold for next to nothing. I don’t like to support that cycle of enslaving people in foreign countries to fulfill our need to have stuff, not that my lack of purchasing on its own really makes a whole lot of difference, but I don’t want to give any energy to it, and don’t want it in my life, and I want you to have a job that keeps your health and safety in mind and pays you a living wage. I rarely shop in these types of discount stores too because they make this cycle of cheapness and enslavement necessary, and don’t necessarily treat their own employees very well. I do my best to protest this cycle financially, socially and politically. But for just a quick roll of tape on a busy day, one place is about the same as any other.

But perhaps I was meant to be charmed by your skill and talent in this little bit of decoration, as it truly is lovely and well made. I make things myself so I know what goes into them, and most often with these decorative items the workmanship is barely sufficient for the thing to hold together until you get it home, let alone through a season to be kept for future years as used to be a tradition. Now we anticipate that we’ll throw something away and get a new thing the next time we need one, filling up landfills with cheap stuff, and if it doesn’t last the season, well, we didn’t waste more than a dollar and change.

Your skills, though only Impressed me after the little things caught my eye, and of all the stuff I passed walking quickly through the aisles your creation made me stop, look, visualize, and consider making something similar. I picked up each one of the dozen little flower picks and decided, of all things, that I would buy two and add them to the autumn entrance to my home I’d been imagining in place of the ribbon I’d been considering shopping for.

I juggled all 12 for several minutes and chose two with bright autumn yellow and rich harvest orange and carefully paid for them along with my tape and carried them home. I wrapped the wire stems, carefully wrapped in dark green floral tape, around the top rung of the salvaged wooden chairs I decorate for the seasons, adding flowers as they mature or I find them in my favorite greenhouses, but I haven’t done much, sometimes nothing at all, for the past few years. Your ornaments gave me the incentive to follow through with putting my own small mums from cuttings into pots and fluffing up all the plants I keep from year to year, tired now after the summer, and visiting the family-owned businesses to find their own hand-grown bargain chrysanthemums, the ones they’d started from cuttings and fed and watered and trimmed all summer to be perfectly shaped and covered with buds that would bloom over several weeks.

Mostly, though, I was impressed with your talent at composing colors and shapes and textures with this limited choice of inexpensive materials, to make something beautiful. I know it’s unlikely you have the opportunity to use your talent as your career, or even to make other beautiful things when you choose to do so, as I do. I doubt you have the opportunities and choices I do, but I wish you did. I can’t imagine myself in your place, the frustration and unhappiness I would feel. I have given up many things to serve my creative efforts but that is my choice and my life is not deprived; you have had these conveniences and niceties taken away from you, or simply never had them.

So I don’t think my purchase has changed your life, but I hope the energy I send you in truly admiring your work will put some ripples of change into the universe. I think of you each time I look at these little ornaments, and I send love and support your way, that maybe someday you will have the opportunities I have, and your life will be different, and you will be able to fulfill your potential as an artist.

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As I assembled my materials I thought about this person the entire time I was working. Here is how it all ended up for me, and it’s been years since I was this inspired.

autumn ornaments

Right entrance.

autumn ornaments

Left entrance

autumn ornament

Full entrance.

 

 


Blue and Yellow

Blue and Yellow

Blue and Yellow

This time of the year is always about the first bursts of color, especially blooming things. I always have a stem or two or more of forsythia in my kitchen, and in those brief moments of sunshine the yellow is warm and brilliant before the classic Blue Willow dishes.


Morning Blue

morning sun through blue pitcher
morning sun through blue pitcher

Morning Blue

The sun shines in at an angle through the cobalt pitcher and across the enamel table with the red edge.


Green

two green bottles in the sun
two green bottles in the sun

Green Bottles

They were destined for the recycling bin, so I left them by the door in order to trip over them on my way out so I’d remember to take them to the bin. When I walked back into the room, the sun had risen full force and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Sometimes these scenes feel like a gift, and the certainly awaken my creative senses for a day of design at my computer.


Welcome Kitty, 2010

cat sculpture
cat sculpture

Greeting Cat.

This is the kitty who greets you at my front door.

I have a number of feline sculptures and outdoor items, some of which I’ve made, some gifts and some beckoned to me from yard sales and vintage shops.

This one came to me with Peaches and Cream; the person who brought me them also brought me several small feline-themed items as well. This was handmade by someone, cast in a lightweight concrete mix so it bears that grainy texture all over except on the eyes.

It’s not a 3-D sculpture, just a relief, and I have him posted just above the bottom crossbar of my homemade dark brown wooden shutter where he can peek over, around or through whatever vase of flowers I have on the table by the door.

Right now this is the dried flowers of the many-flowered aster, my favorite autumn aster, I rescued from a parking lot before it was sprayed with chemicals.

The leaves have fallen and the golden autumn sunlight angles onto my front porch, bathing the cat and the flowers in amber warmth for just a short while, and all else is in deep shadow.


A New Planet? 2010

photo of glass object
photo of glass object

A brave new planet.

No, just an old one seen in a “new light”. The leaves have fallen off the trees and this Jupiter-inspired glass bowl suspended over my landing caught the light at an astonishing angle causing me to stumble and nearly fall as I walked up the steps and didn’t recognize the glowing orb that hadn’t been there just a few moments ago.

It’s all about the light, and it’s not just where decorative glass objects are concerned. Perhaps it’s all an allegory of current events.


Little Colorful Thing

candle holder in sun
candle holder in sun

Little Colorful Thing

A simple household item becomes an item of complex visual interest with and interesting angle of bright sun. It’s a little votive holder, but it’s all in how you look at it.


Coffee With Cream

coffee with cream
coffee with cream

Coffee with cream.

Just half n half swirling around in hot coffee. For some reason it was totally mesmerizing, but I think I needed the cup of coffee at that point and anything would have been mesmerizing.


Pussy Willow

photo of a cat and pussy willow in angled sunlight
photo of a cat and pussy willow in angled sunlight

Pussy Willow

What I like most is the abstraction, the light and shadow playing on the objects and the walls, both the pussy willow and the cat turning from positive objects to negative space as the sun and shadow move across them.

It’s an older photo on film, and I’ve been scanning my prints up to now. For this one I’d like to get a good negative scanner.

I featured this on The Creative Cat tonight, and if you care to you can read a little more about this photo and how it encouraged me to consider taking my photography more seriously as an art in itself, and not just as reference photos for my art.


Blue and Yellow

forsythia and bue willow dishes

Blue and Yellow

This time of the year is always about the first bursts of color, especially blooming things. I always have a stem or two or more of forsythia in my kitchen, and in those brief moments of sunshine the yellow is warm and brilliant before the classic Blue Willow dishes.


Worn Wood

photo of wooden things

Worn Wood.

Wooden items, painted, stained, natural; the white rocker, the oak split basket, bench, deck and steps, have all seen the effects of weather, settling into their natural patterns and types of wear, softened by late afternoon sun.


Lace and Shadows:2011

photo of sun and shadows on lace

Lace and Shadows

The sun at this time of year is magical, long and angled, brilliant among the bare trees, alighting even the simplest of household items and creating abstract images or interesting patterns of light and shadow.


Green (2011)

two green bottles in the sun

Green Bottles

They were destined for the recycling bin, so I left them by the door in order to trip over them on my way out so I’d remember to take them to the bin. When I walked back into the room, the sun had risen full force and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Sometimes these scenes feel like a gift, and the certainly awaken my creative senses for a day of design at my computer.


Coffee With Cream

coffee with cream

Coffee with cream.

Just half n half swirling around in hot coffee. For some reason it was totally mesmerizing, but I think I needed the cup of coffee at that point and anything would have been mesmerizing.


Two Little Deer Go Home

two ceramic deer planters

Two Little Deer

These two ceramic planters with deer figures have long been my favorites at Carnegie Antiques, and today they finally went home to live with two little girls.

A man was looking for birthday gifts for his granddaughters who are 9 and 10, and whose birthdays are close enough together that they celebrate at the same time. He has always found “two” of an item, not exactly alike, but enough that they feel equal. We had had other neat things girls that age would enjoy from what he described—a Victorian vanity set with a brush, comb and hand mirror, little decorative boxes, hats, dolls—but of these there was only one thing left. We looked at animal jewelry and ceramic figures, but even the owl necklaces were all too different to be paired together.

As we walked around and talked I saw the yellow deer standing on the burgundy planter and asked if they might like this. I knew there was another just like it around somewhere, though it was a different color combination. They could use it as a pencil cup or just toss stuff into it, or actually put a plant in it.

Yes, they would, he said. So off I went through six rooms, looked in the first spot I remembered having seen it, and the second spot, remembering a friend of mine had purchased a deer planter and began to lose hope, looked in the third spot and also began considering other figures, but there it was, the yellow deer with the green planter.

These animal-themed planters, along with other themes, were very popular gifts for hospital patients beginning just after WWII when people actually began to visit the hospital on a regular basis. This included plenty of women who gave birth in a hospital instead of at home, as had always been the standard practice. They were intended to brighten a person’s spirits as they recovered, and give them something happy to take home. I believe the plants were usually those hardy heart-leaf philodendrons; I also remember every home with older relatives had at least one philodendron and I presume this was the reason why.

I wrapped them imagining two little girls with their colorful deer pencil cups, which decades ago had brightened the day for someone, and possibly more than one someone through the years, and they are still capable of bringing happiness to another generation.


Handkerchief

handkerchief with initial h

Handkerchief for Memory

The last time I was at Carnegie Antiques I flipped through the pile of handkerchiefs, all different, handmade, store-bought, flowered, embroidered, lace trims, a typical pile of hankies from years past.

I found this one in the pile and recognized the letter “H”, my mother’s first initial. My mother could be difficult to fit with gifts and was often awkward at accepting, but whenever I found a small thing with her initial, mugs, small handbags, shirts, tablets, whatever, I just bought it and gave it to her. She was always pleased with these things and kept them, and it was a quietly happy part of our relationship. They are all long gone now from regular use and from selling her house and its contents.

Even though she died last month I still had the urge to buy this. I initially decided not to—what would I do with it? I have no one to give it to. I am a habitual collector of small things that I then never give up and years ago I cleaned it all out and donated it and can now enjoy looking at something I would formerly have purchased, then let it go, finding I don’t really need it after all.

But I thought about this little handkerchief, such a nicely done pattern of flowers in some of my mother’s favorite colors, and an unusually-shaped letter. I decided that I could continue this little tradition, even if I only keep the handkerchief and other things myself. Perhaps if I collect a number of things, someday I’ll find another daughter who can use a collection of things with her mother’s initial. For now, I have space for this. When I look at it, I think of my mother. That’s enough purpose for me.


Lace and Shadows

photo of sun and shadows on lace

Lace and Shadows

The sun at this time of year is magical, long and angled, brilliant among the bare trees, alighting even the simplest of household items and creating abstract images or interesting patterns of light and shadow.


Onions

onions

Onions

Something magic happens when unexpected sunshine angles into a window and illuminates something that otherwise would be pretty unexciting. I see these onions every day, if not these exactly then two or three others, and I do like them but don’t find them nearly as inspiring as when the sun warms and deepens their colors and casts a chance shadow from the asparagus fern like Chinese characters with a message, perhaps of a happy new year.


Green

two green bottles in the sun

Green Bottles

They were destined for the recycling bin, so I left them by the door in order to trip over them on my way out so I’d remember to take them to the bin. When I walked back into the room, the sun had risen full force and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Sometimes these scenes feel like a gift, and the certainly awaken my creative senses for a day of design at my computer.


The Little Tree

crocheted tree with jewelry decorations

The Little Tree

Happy Holidays, and thanks for looking at my photos this year!

It’s a very little tree—one I made, in fact! I crocheted the shape and stuffed it with (clean) old socks all snipped up, and it’s decorated with all my single earrings, charms I don’t like, pins, cufflinks and other assorted unwanted jewelry, festooned with a gold chain and a strand of tiny clear plastic beads and topped with a crystal earring. An ankle bracelet holds it on the tree.

I had intended to make several of these for friends, but only made one so far and decided to photograph it so I’d remember what it looked like, and so that I could write down the pattern for the crochet. We had had a nice snow, so I used the warm morning light to photograph it in its “natural state”, and it looked quite cute!

Maybe I’ll get a start on these for next year while I’m on a roll. In the meantime, enjoy your holiday weekend! I’ll have some…interesting holiday lights to post later.