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

interesting

Choices

Choices
Choices

Choices

The door on the left is perfectly nice and interesting, even seemed to tell a story to me, but I let my camera have its way, and if I lived there I probably choose purple and green too.

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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.


All-Day Vegetable Soup

All-day Vegetable Soup
photo of a pot of soup

All-day Vegetable Soup

I first ran this on Labor Day 2010, and it’s time again for it this year. At the height of the growing season, visiting the farmer’s market with all its shapes and colors and people and languages and sounds and smells, and gathering herbs and vegetables in the quiet of my own garden, then the afternoon of organizing the ingredients, cleaning and trimming and chopping, stirring things in the big pot, the slightly steamy windows and the scents filling every area of the house seems to set the tone for autumn on our first cool day as the leaves begin to change.

I long ago finished the last container from the freezer from last year’s pot of soup. I’m looking forward to taking out a container of harvest freshness in the dark of the coming winter.

I make All-day Vegetable Soup on the first cool Saturday in the fall with the freshest vegetables from my garden or the farmer’s market if I’m out of something. A big pot of soup simmered all day tastes different from a small pot of soup cooked an hour or two. Think of our ancestors, not so long ago even, who cooked huge vats of soups made from what was on hand to feed large families, simmering over the fire all day so the flavors would blend but the vegetables keep their shapes without overcooking to mush, and it preserves well frozen or pressure canned too.

It’s also a great day to make bread because it will rise beautifully with the steam and warmth from a big pot of soup. Where just a few days ago you were dripping sweat with intense summer heat, suddenly it’s cool, feeling cold, and possibly raining (as it is here today) and for the first time in the coming cooler season the kitchen windows will steam up; you’ll probably need to open a window to let some moisture out of the kitchen, and you feel that sens of security that comes with being warm inside when it’s cold outside.

Use the big canning pot that holds five gallons of liquid, add two gallons of stock you’ve made over the summer from simmering vegetables, or just use plain water. Assemble your vegetables, and don’t worry if you don’t have everything on the list. Use what you have—one zucchini and three yellow crookneck squash? Fine. Use what you like—don’t want beans in your soup? Leave them out.

A note before you begin: Collect all the vegetable and herb trimmings, peels, skins, cores, whatever, and at the same time or later you’ll simmer those in filtered water in another stock pot to make a few quarts of vegetable stock to use for another pot of soup or other recipe that calls for vegetable stock.

Add, to taste:

  • garlic (I use a whole head)
  • onion, white or yellow, one or two large ones
  • six stalks chopped celery, reserve tops for later
  • 3 lbs. chopped tomatoes
  • four cups chopped carrots
  • four cups chopped potatoes
  • four cups green and/or yellow beans snapped in 1-inch sections
  • whole small head of cabbage or half large, chopped
  • four cups sliced zucchini or other summer squash
  • fresh corn kernels from four ears of corn
  • four cups fresh peas
  • four cups chopped broccoli
  • four cups chopped cauliflower
  • anything else you have on hand: turnips, parsnips or other root crops, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, mustard or other greens whatever you want in your soup
  • two cups of dried beans, can be all the same but I use a little of each kind of dried bean I have in the kitchen: kidney, pink, great northern, navy, lima, etc.
  • chopped fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme

Boil stock.

Reduce to simmer—and remember: “simmer” is the operative word all the way through.

Add dry beans.

Add chopped vegetables one by one, beginning with the firmest, like carrots, and ending with the greens.

Simmer at least four hours past the last vegetable added.

Add chopped fresh herbs and celery leaves, simmer one half hour more.

Let sit, covered, for at least an hour, preferably to.

Eat several bowls.

Let cool completely, which can take hours depending on how much you made.

Can in pressure canner or freeze in freezer containers.

Open a jar in January and remember summer.

Recipe “All-day Vegetable Soup” Copyright © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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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.

. . . . . . .

Inspire Me Monday on Create With Joy

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Dairy Queen in the Dark

Dairy Queen in the Dark
Dairy Queen in the Dark

Dairy Queen in the Dark

I love that good old-fashioned look of the Dairy Queen, primary colors, nice clear shapes, that late-50’s slight upward angle of the roof and outward angle of the windows.

The night I took this photo it had rained and was hot and humid, and the Dairy Queen beckoned from the dark in the middle of nowhere along a deserted road. The night was dreamy enough and the road dark enough that it almost seemed the DQ was an illusion, and either I’d pull in and it would turn into something else or disappear altogether, or it was a trap, a portal to another dimension and I’d enter some dramatic scenario as in some of the stories I enjoy.

But I just enjoyed a medium vanilla with chocolate dip, really enjoyed it. It’s been a while. Maybe that’s why the DQ magically emerged.

I love photos of rainy nights and have a whole gallery of photos called “At Night in the Rain”.

. . . . . . .

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 Gathering of Saints and Other Semi-mortal Beings

They look a little disorganized.
Should I put some coins in that bowl?

Should I put some coins in that bowl?

If these statues start walking toward me I’m out of there.

I was at The Barn Outlet today, this is a selection of what they have on hand.

Two guys going out to beg and one guy checking his watch.

They look a little disorganized.

They look a little disorganized.

. . . . . . .

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.


Iron Butterfly

Iron Butterfly
Iron Butterfly

Iron Butterfly

Spread your wings. Another wet morning. It’s my iron butterfly with a dewy tendril of honeysuckle dancing with the rusty butterfly antennae.

. . . . . .

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.


Patterns Uncovered by Melting Snow

Patterns Uncovered by Melting Snow
Patterns Uncovered by Melting  Snow

Patterns Uncovered by Melting Snow

A very old brick street.

. . . . . .

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.


Poem for Saturday: To Come Again in Spring

Tiny  Spider

Tiny Spider

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Come Again in Spring

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

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

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

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

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


poetry book cover paths i have walked

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

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

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

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

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


The Christmas Moon

The Christmas Moon
The Christmas Moon

The Christmas Moon

This is one of my stories of Christmas magic, a moment in time that really did happen one Christmas night several years ago.

I was driving home on a Christmas night, traveling along a dark two-lane road in a somewhat rural area that was familiar and fairly close to home. As dusk fell the light dusting of snow around me was tending to violet and the perfectly clear blue sky above me was also deepening to violet in the east. As I turned a bend in the road I met with surprise a big bright and creamy full moon perfectly placed above the uneven horizon line, a mix of pine trees and the reaching bare branches of deciduous trees, these nearly silhouetted against the sky. I smiled at the pure beauty of the scene as I drove along, vowing to remember the composition and carry its beauty with me, perhaps someday painting the scene.

As I followed the curves of the road the moon seemed to follow me on my right, a watchful presence as I drove through the deepening twilight. I had just driven my brother back to the nursing home where he was living while recovering from a traumatic brain injury, and then my mother who was living in personal care in the after effects of lung cancer and congestive heart failure. The two places were at least 50 miles apart and the journey took quite some time on both highways and back roads. I had cooked a Christmas dinner at my house, set everything aside to keep warm and gone to pick up each of them. We ate our dinner and I packed a few leftovers for each of them before getting them back in time for dinner medications. At each place I stopped for a while to help them in and to get resettled in their respective spaces and discuss their care with staff. Now I was on my way home to pack up the rest of the dinner, wash dishes and clean up my kitchen, there was very little traffic and the day had been beautiful, clear and sunny though cold and now, alone, I had some time to ponder.

Deep in thought about those two and about my own life since they’d suffered their illnesses, I considered our day then moved to other Christmases, other holidays, other family members, other homes. In my distraction I slowed down with the rises and falls and bends in the road in the growing darkness, still aware of that full moon following me out of the corner of my eye, illuminating the white line on my right, making it very easy to follow.

At one point a small valley opened out on my right, a flood plain along a stream, a familiar thing to one who walks the woods and valleys in Western Pennsylvania: a level area filled with young trees, scrub and brambles which had recently enough been the rich bottomland field of a farm, bordered by a narrow stream that flowed at the bottom of a rather steep tree-covered hill. These small valleys appeared on one side of the road then the other, and with a little traveling the valley would rise up into a hill that bordered the road while on the other side the hill would fall into a valley, up and down, the road, the landscape, the rhythm was comforting, like rocking slowly in a rocking chair.

As I passed this little valley I noticed movement among the trees, probably a deer as this was the time of day they moved about and that was the perfect area for them to be having an evening meal. Though I hadn’t been facing that direction and didn’t actually see anything directly the movement hadn’t seemed to be a deer, and more by intuition than actual fact it had seemed human to me. We recognize these things without realizing, that ancient part of our brain assembling patterns and instinctive knowledge before our slower logical brain can react, and making out of the pieces something we can recognize.

The fact that it might be a person was not a problem, really, the little valley was essentially someone’s back yard and it would not be unusual for them to be walking around there even on Christmas, and while I might wonder if the person was in danger or in need of some sort I would be most likely to allow them their privacy. But something about the figure had also seemed familiar, I had no idea why, probably that ancient brain reacting again, but I trust it when it does that. And even though I wanted to get back home and clean up my kitchen, I slowed down and pulled to the side of the road. If there was a possibility I tried to pursue these little ideals that arose, stopping to explore. At that time, with all the complications of my life, I rarely felt I had the time to spend chasing an illusion, but I didn’t question the need to explore this one.

I had passed the valley by that time so it was now behind me, but I backed up along the berm of the road to a spot where I could see into it.

That silent pale yellow moon, now nearly white, still shone on my right, risen slightly higher above the horizon than before, and shone directly into the little space lighting the snow cover to a pale silver violet and the tree trunks to varying shades of pale gray against the charcoal-shadowed hill in the background. Everything seemed still, but I detected movement flitting among the trees, thought I saw the glint of moonlight on hair, on an arm, a dress. I opened my car window and shut off my radio and then my car’s engine. If those were people moving down there, they should be crunching in the snow, but I heard no sound in the crisp, clear air.

But I felt such a strong presence. Quietly opening my door and standing up in the bits of snow and gravel at the edge of the grass along the road, I heard only far off sounds, a plane in the sky, a car traveling somewhere, a dog barking. The air was so clear I thought I’d hear sounds from miles away traveling quickly through the cold, windless darkness, leaving little virtual contrails as they moved through the infinity of a cold winter night, but nothing came up from the valley, neither from hooves nor feet.

And if, instead of being the author, I was reading this and didn’t know the story, I’d be yelling, “You idiot! Get back in the car!” No, this isn’t going to turn into a made-for-TV movie, I remained alone, you are safe to read on without fear. I am cautious and always aware, but didn’t feel in any way threatened, in fact I felt safe and welcome.

As I stood there, one hand on my open car door, I thought I recognized one of the figures out of the corner of my eye, and as it is with focusing on subjects in near darkness the figure disappeared when I looked directly at it. But I knew it was my mother, walking quickly and gracefully as she had done when young, laughing soundlessly over her shoulder before disappearing into the darkness. Then I saw one of my aunts, also laughing but in a conversation with someone else, typically a sour and sarcastic person but here, almost unrecognizable in her happiness. And as I stood there I saw other relatives, aunts and uncles, even ones I’d never known and only seen in photos, just a few seconds each, and all were happy and laughing and moving here and there, the little valley was full of these specters.

Then I realized that each of these were the people I’d been thinking about as I drove along. Had I manifested them? Was I hallucinating? I hadn’t even had a glass of wine yet, waiting until I was back home in my warm kitchen in my stocking feet and wearing an apron, washing my dishes and singing along with the radio as I almost wished I was right then.

But here they were in this magical little valley and what had made me slow my car, had drawn me out to experience it was the joy in the scene, they were all enjoying themselves, happy and laughing, something that had not always been so in real life; some of them, sadly, rarely so. Here they all were together in this little parallel universe.

I had been thinking so deeply about them all as I drove in that deepening twilight under the watchful eye of that full moon, remembering where I had memories of them or simply imagining those who I’d never met. When I create a scene for artwork or writing I visualize it pretty completely and even sometimes I get so lost in these necessary alternate realities that I feel the cold or hot or wind, I have the conversation, I see the light in a person’s eyes. In that manner of visualizing, in that dusky time of day when I feel the veil of reality thin and the closeness of those who aren’t with me along with that magical moon and its light among the trees, my thoughts for those brief seconds became real, and I saw them as I wanted them to be, or perhaps as they really were without the worries and weariness of everyday life, happy to be together, happy to be alive. I will never know which it was, but I would be comforted to know this was how they would all spend eternity.

. . . . . .

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.


Poem for Saturday: Vintage

vintage items
vintage items

Treasures

What a variety of color, shape, pattern, object…this still life was totally unplanned and nearly unseen.

Likely Judi was simply clearing items off the counter and placed the Lover’s Knot Lace-edged hankie on the chair, then pulled the necklaces that hadn’t been selling and lined them up on her hand, turning around and setting it all down on the traditional pillow-ticking pillowcase on the antique chair behind the counter in the shop, Carnegie Antiques.

I saw it out of the corner of my eye, then went back around the shop looking for what I’d seen peripherally while doing something else.

Vintage

Colorful beaded necklaces, orange and apple green,
and pearls and plastic flowers,
a linen hankie with soft green lovers-knot lace edging,
a blue and white stripe pillow cover, real pillow-ticking,
a ruffled chair cushion,
what made these things so cherished
that they survived the years intact,
ready to be cherished again
even when similar things, in other hands
were broken, stained, discarded?

Were they curious heirlooms from a dear ancestor,
whose very touch caused an item to be cherished?
A gift from lover to beloved,
kept for the memory of a special night?
A young girl trying her hand at
the lovely things her nurturing grandmother taught her?
Jade beads purchased to match a special dress and kept “for good”,
just a glance at the box recalling a fond memory?

Though we’d like to choose noble symbols for our memories
we mark them with what is at hand, familiar everyday items;
the next generations may shake their heads and wonder
even as they set aside their own vintage memories.

poem © 2011 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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. Each year I am invited back to read my poetry and exhibit my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


The Ruby Slipper

red slipper on broken pavement
red slipper on broken pavement

The Ruby Slipper

The story is yours to tell.

. . . . . . .

If you’d like a print of this photo it is available in my photography collection in my Fine Art America gallery entitled “Ruby Slipper”.

. . . . . . .

For a print of any photo, 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

. . . . . . .

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.


The Caretaker’s Buddha

plastic buddha
plastic buddha

The Caretaker’s Buddha

Buddha waves from the window of the cemetery caretaker’s cottage.

After the pet memorial ceremony on Sunday the host and I took a walk through the cemetery and grounds where we’d set it up. Along the edges we found some of the oldest graves and the caretaker’s cottage, which now only holds equipment and no one lives there, though a window held some of the treasures they’d no doubt found among the headstones through the years. I was heartened by this jovial Buddha, possibly ivory, holding onto one of the muntins and waving to me from the window. Below is the whole window with a tribal face and a painted plastic couple with a dog and a Christmas tree they’d apparently just cut, a nun with a lamb and a few other odds and ends.

CaretakersCollection

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If you are interested in purchasing this painting or any other originals I have posted here on Today, please contact me. I will also have prints of this painting after the exhibit.


All-Day Vegetable Soup

photo of a pot of soup

All-day Vegetable Soup

I first ran this on Labor Day 2010, and it’s coming around to the time for it this year. At the height of the growing season, visiting the farmer’s market with all its shapes and colors and people and languages and sounds and smells, and gathering herbs and vegetables in the quiet of my own garden, then the afternoon of organizing the ingredients, cleaning and trimming and chopping, stirring things in the big pot, the slightly steamy windows and the scents filling every area of the house seems to set the tone for autumn on our first cool day as the leaves begin to change.

I long ago finished the last container from the freezer from last year’s pot of soup. I’m looking forward to taking out a container of harvest freshness in the dark of the coming winter.

I make All-day Vegetable Soup on the first cool day in the fall with the freshest vegetables from my garden or the farmer’s market if I’m out of something. A big pot of soup simmered all day tastes different from a small pot of soup cooked an hour or two. Think of our ancestors, not so long ago even, who cooked huge vats of soups made from what was on hand to feed large families, simmering over the fire all day so the flavors would blend but the vegetables keep their shapes with no mush, and it preserves well frozen or pressure canned too.

It’s also a great day to make bread because it will rise beautifully with the steam and warmth from a big pot of soup.

Use the big canning pot that holds five gallons of liquid, add two gallons of stock you’ve made over the summer from simmering vegetables, or just use plain water.

Add, to taste:

  • garlic (I use a whole clove)
  • onion, white or yellow, one or two large ones
  • six stalks chopped celery, reserve tops for later
  • 3 lbs. chopped tomatoes
  • four cups chopped carrots
  • four cups chopped potatoes
  • four cups green and/or yellow beans snapped in 1-inch sections
  • whole small head of cabbage or half large, chopped
  • four cups slice zucchini
  • fresh corn kernels from four ears of corn
  • four cups fresh peas
  • four cups chopped broccoli
  • four cups chopped cauliflower
  • anything else you have on hand: turnips, parsnips or other root crops, brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, mustard or other greens whatever you want in your soup
  • two cups of dried beans, can be all the same but I use a little of each kind of dried bean I have in the kitchen: kidney, pink, great northern, navy, lima, etc.
  • chopped fresh herbs like parsley, tarragon, thyme

Boil stock.

Reduce to simmer—and remember: “simmer” is the operative word all the way through.

Add dry beans.

Add chopped vegetables one by one, beginning with the firmest, like carrots, and ending with the greens.

Simmer at least two hours past the last vegetable added.

Add chopped fresh herbs, simmer one half hour more.

Let sit, covered, for about an hour.

Eat several bowls.

Let cool completely, which can take hours depending on how much you made.

Can in pressure canner or freeze in freezer containers.

Open a jar in January and remember summer.


Sorting Paper Clips

paper clips
paper clips

Paper Clips Aglow

I have a lot of work to do, so I’m sorting colored paper clips.

A week or so ago I pulled a box down from a shelf in my studio, which in turn knocked down a stack of containers of gum bands, binder clips and paper clips. Once again they tumbled onto the table, but this time the plastic container of sorted small and large and colored paper clips popped its lid and paper clips spread across my work table and everything on it, and off the edge into the vertically sorted cardboard, matboard and foam core next to my table in a fantastic rainbow shower.

Exasperated with myself as this happened nearly each time I took down the box of envelopes and I should have known better, I picked up the items, scooped up the paperclips from the table and tossed cardboard around to get to the clips that had fallen in between. I tossed them back into the container and decided I’d just leave them mixed up. What did it matter? I could dig for the one I wanted. I reached to put it back on the stack on the shelf, then thought I really would rather have them sorted, at least for large and small because I knew I’d find a point of annoyance each time I wanted to use one and had to dig for the right size. I permit myself a few silly routines in daily life, like choosing the color paper clip to match what I am clipping in some way, or match my mood or the season perhaps. I could never use the wrong color paper clip, this was my studio and it is all about color and creative in here. It gives me a little feeling of control, and a silly simple decision to make in the middle of many other more important ones.

So the container sat mounded with loose paper clips and the lid laid atop for a week or so. Until I was sorting paperwork and I needed to use several paper clips. The papers were orders for merchandise and had thumbnails of the items on them, so I had to use small paper clips and I looked at the container on the table, unsorted, and felt a little flash of anger at myself for being careless. Just get a clip. No. The orders had items I needed to pull from boxes in various places here, a few things I had to make, a few things I had to shop for materials to make and also to order materials. As I’d sorted the papers, two copies of each plus packing slips, I’d put all the items in order for what needed to be done and mentally made a list of what order I’d do things and all that needed to be purchased, then began to write it down and realized there was so much overlap I’d have to think about it.

I looked at the paper clips again. In the middle of a busy day I shouldn’t take the time to sort those paper clips, right? Just the opposite. I should drop what I was doing and sort those paper clips right now.

paper clips

Getting to work.

Sometimes trying to think about too many things at once is unproductive. I could feel myself going in little circles, trying to fit all the activities into each other like puzzle pieces, and it really didn’t need to be that hard. Making simple little decisions, like choosing just the right paper clip, can redirect a wild array of thoughts to one place and give a break in considerations. Taking a few minutes to methodically sort paper clips can be very calming. And in the end you have something that’s completed, and will make at least one thing that needs to be done easier the next time it needs to be done. Running a business, creating things and showing, merchandising and selling them is a non-stop activity, processes overlap, and while things do get done, it often doesn’t feel that way.

black cat with paper clips

My Zen kitty watches me sort paper clips.

Fifteen minutes of sorting paper clips, the simple action of focusing on size first and then color, enjoying the visual stimulation of the mix and blend of changing color combinations and shapes is the perfect way to take a break and let my thoughts reorganize as I drop clusters of sorted clips into their appointed spots. Then back to my paperwork, clipping the papers with my choice of colors, making my lists of purchases and projects and feeling as if everything is, for the moment, under control.

sorted paper clips

The job is done before I know it.

Oh, and I slightly rearranged things on that shelf as I’d been planning so that when I pulled down the box of envelopes it didn’t crowed the stack of containers. I feel good.

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


Doubt

old factory
old factory

Doubt

Not sure why, but that was the first word that came to mind when I saw this.

It’s the window area of a old factory building now covered in green corrugated fiberglass panels, overlapping and broken and patched, with just a few lights on inside, late at night.

It looks as if Piet Mondrian had had a green phase.

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


Entering Reality

two figures in black and white

Entering Reality

Not so much what it looked like in life but the way my camera recorded images at this spot, all the figures outside the shadowed area looked vaguely abstracted, kind of cubist or sometimes just a shadowy rectangle because the sun was so bright on the pavement and on the river beyond. As they walked toward the shadow they gained detail. Interesting.

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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.


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.


Stage Ready

darkened stage
darkened stage

Stage Ready

I just like stage scenes.

Do you suppose the instruments are talking to each other? And the chairs?

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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.


Poem for Saturday: To Come Again in Spring

photo of spiderweb
photo of spiderweb

Tiny Spider

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

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

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

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

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

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

To Come Again in Spring

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

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

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

Read more poetry here on Today or visit my poetry page to see more about my poetry and other writing, and to purchase Paths I Have Walked.

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


poetry book cover paths i have walked

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

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

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

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

People who attended one or more of my poetry readings encouraged me to publish some of my poetry in a book from the beginning.

Once I completed my 2010 poetry reading, my fourth featuring the final piece of artwork in the “Art of the Watershed” series, I decided it was time to publish something and it should be those four poetry readings.

Poetry books are not best-sellers; it’s difficult to convince a publisher to risk effort on a beginning poet, and while self-publishing is the best option it’s not inexpensive and once you’ve got the book, someone’s got to market it. Plus, I’m a graphic designer and I designed books for years, and I want things my way.

All of this is a recipe for a little bit of trouble, but I decided the book was well worth the effort so I designed the book myself and had a set printed—no ISBN or anything formal, but it’s a start! I’m really excited to offer it.

Books are 4.25″ x 11″, 40 pages of information and poetry, with glossy covers featuring “Dusk in the Woods” and little thumbnails of all four pieces in “Art of the Watershed”.

$8.00 each plus $2.50 shipping (they are oversized for mailing first class).

You can order one on my poetry page, or in my Marketplace.

About the books and the poetry readings

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

In December, 2006, two of my poems were chosen to be published on a section of the Prairie Home Companion website entitled “Stories From Home/First Person” for submissions of writing about the place we feel most familiar. I’m a long-time listener to PHC and reader of Garrison Keillor’s books as well as a daily listener to The Writer’s Almanac featuring news about writers and writing and of interest to writers as well as a poem, all compiled and read by Keillor himself. I was astonished to find my poems were among the first chosen from apparently thousands, and so happy to be able to share them with a potential audience of so many similarly inclined writers and readers.

My poetry readings and art exhibits were the vision of Maggie Forbes, executive director of the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, after learning of my publishing of those two poems. I owe her many thanks for encouraging me to present this combination of my visual and literary art, a first for me. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor.


Sidewalk Sunflower

tar and spraypaint on sidewalk
tar and spraypaint on sidewalk

Sidewalk Sunflower

It’s about the only thing blooming around here!

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


Patiently Waiting

colorful marbles in the sun
colorful marbles in the sun

Patiently Waiting

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

See also “Lost My Marbles”

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


Things Found on the Street

doll's arm on pavemetn
doll's arm on pavemetn

Things Found on the Street

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

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


Lost My Marbles

photo of marbles
photo of marbles

Lost My Marbles

I found this bunch of marbles in the soil of a yard where I lived years ago. None is valuable, but the are all interesting and were probably some child’s collection of neat stuff that somehow got tossed in the yard—big brother teasing? little sister go hold of them? mom tired of the noise of them rolling around the floor? They were all in an area where I’d dug my garden and I found them as I tilled the soil, so unfortunately some of them are nicked or scraped. Right now I use them in the bottom of flasks and bottles with cut flowers and plant cuttings, but I rinsed them and laid them in the sun to dry and I really lost my marbles with the inspiration of the color, iridescence, reflections and refracted light through colored glass. This is one of many, many photos. I can guarantee you’ll be seeing more from this particular photo shoot.

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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.