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

Posts tagged “cats

On An Adventure

On An Adventure
On An Adventure

On An Adventure

“Every day should be an adventure. Mimi and I explored a small section of the neighbor’s yard.”

I posted this on Facebook this morning, and decided it needed its own post rather than added into another. I like the composition right away, Mimi walking through a passage or sorts; I had posted one like this earlier this year as well. I love those two trees, the one with the “toes” is a maple and the other is a tulip poplar, each at least 70 feet tall, and I study them all the time, looking at them out my kitchen window and door in all seasons, and sketched and photographed that little scooped opening through the trees. Because they are so tall it’s very shady in my yard, but the neighbor’s yard in the morning is full of sun and the contrast adds to the feel of a passageway. When I saw her heading there I positioned myself to get the angle I wanted, then followed her. Then the first of the colored autumn leaves with the rich green of summer, the rough bark of the trees, the light, and little Mimi going fearlessly into new territory. Well, sort of. She still knows the neighborhood pretty well. Adding the vignette shading around the outside just added to it. I may do something with this at some time.

And some days I just have too many photos and have to post more.

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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 Huntress

Just look for the eyes.

Just look for the eyes.

On a quiet afternoon the garden was full of excitement.

You can't see her, surely.

You can’t see her, surely.

For several years before moving in here Mimi hunted for food for her babies. Now that she’s a pampered princess she still likes to indulge now and then, just to keep in shape.

Something is over there.

Something is over there.

Nothing escapes her notice.

Well disguised.

Well disguised.

Nothing was harmed while photographing—Mimi was only practicing.

Capturing these photos between the blades of grass and sometimes confusing light and shadows and moving blades of grass was my own hunting expedition for the afternoon.


See more feline photos on www.TheCreativeCat.net. 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 to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.



Wishful Thinking

Violets in spring grass.
Violets in spring grass.

Violets in spring grass.

“Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

~Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada as translated by Eknath Easwaran

I’ve never been one to be dissatisfied with the season at hand. What’s the point? I’ll put my energies to more productive activities, or like Moses napping below, taken in March 2004, I’ll just enjoy what is for what it has to offer and learn from that.

Moses napping on the sun-warmed boards of the deck.

Moses napping on the sun-warmed boards of the deck.

But I will admit near the end of a season I am decidedly looking forward to the change to the next one. I have always enjoyed the changing of the seasons. I am intensely visual and even indoors I become visually bored with colors and patterns so I thank nature for providing me with a reason to wear different clothes, participate in different activities and see things in both a real and virtual different light. I also then have a marker for memories by the season, or the weather, or what I was wearing, and many other details gathered and stored by my senses. And just as I have a way to perceive the past, I have a way to shape the future with the same means.

Contact print from March 2004 photos.

Contact print from March 2004 photos.

I’ve been following the seasons in my ongoing quest to work through three decades of photos on film to determine which ones to add to my collections, and with no small amount of wishful thinking this particular year I am anticipating spring, and in my photo collections I’ve come around to the sudden burst of colors I’ll soon see blooming in my yard. On just about each roll of 36 exposures there is at least one study of one of my cats, maybe just one photo of a special moment that marks it in time for me.

Cookie at the top of the stairs in spring sun.

Cookie at the top of the stairs in spring sun.

No doubt I appreciate now more fully what I see, be it clear or blurry, artsy or simply functional, than I did when first saw the contact prints and sorted through the prints themselves. At that time I was looking for what I saw when I took the photo, and often the image didn’t look at all like what I’d “seen”, what I’d “envisioned” when I set all the settings and hit the shutter. I often met with disappointment but just as often surprise as I discovered something I hadn’t planned that I thought was far better than what I had planned. Sometimes I took field notes on the mechanics of each shot, but usually not and I had to guess how to recreate the effect based on what I remembered, but so I learned through the years, reading, studying, and experimenting with lots of photos.

Native wild columbines, trying to capture their buoyant blooming habit.

Native wild columbines, trying to capture their buoyant blooming habit.

But now I have more years of experience at both taking photos and looking at them. As I would expect, my assessment has changed, evolved, as I have learned, seen, experienced, sharpened my vision and softened my expectations, both in photography and in life. Now when I look at these photos I see more clearly what is actually there, and less what I then thought could, should or would be there.

Namir studying me through the lace curtain; look for the ear.

Namir studying me through the lace curtain; look for the ear.

It’s perfectly fine that I’ve gone through this process, that I saw things as I did when I was younger and less knowledgeable but see things as I do now through a lens more clearly focused by experience. We roll around and squall before we crawl and babble, and there to toddling and talking. Learning and change is part of life. In the same way I have learned more and yet more about caring for my cats, and myself, and my garden, and new skills and preferences that didn’t even exist when I first set out on this journey.

Contact print from April 2004 photos.

Contact print from April 2004 photos.

And as I can look through that lens filtered with my collected experiences and see what is there, I can relive the memories gathered therein, remember the heat of Moses’s fur after she’d been absorbing the sun on the deck and how deeply I loved her in that moment of trust for a formerly feral cat, or exactly what Cookie’s face looked like fearing I might actually forget, and how she always made me smile inside and out, and she knew it too, Namir studying me through the lace curtain metaphorically hiding his feelings, and those spring mornings in my yard with each of them, hearing birds whistle, finding new flowers each day, finding new ways to capture, interpret and express all of it. I can also look through it for what could be there with new ideals and aspirations modifying my view, anticipating changes to make to achieve new effects or conclusions, trying a new technique or further perfecting one I’ve been learning, determining what materials I need to achieve my goal.

Our life is shaped by our mind, for we become what we think.”

Wishful thinking has never been a bad thing. I’m looking forward to a new spring of cats and flowers so that I can perceive and interpret these things with yet one more year of experience to filter my abilities and my creative endeavors.

A cardinal seen between the porch pillar and a tree.

A cardinal seen between the porch pillar and a tree.

I originally posted this essay on The Creative Cat.

For more feline photos, visit The Creative Cat.

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

 


Vintage, or Not

Bella, Vintage 3

Bella, Vintage 3

(I thought I’d share a few of my recent photos from The Creative Cat.)

A vintage photo of Bella? But she’s not even a year old!

I’m not sure if I can promise this will be the last of these multiple posts with slideshows. The beauty of the sunlight, amplified by snow cover, simply overtook me and I couldn’t stop taking photos. Sometimes I caught some interesting effects.

These photos have a vintage feel, but obviously are not. The mirror I have on my bathroom door is vintage, well, it’s really just old. At one point it had been glued to either a frame or a wall, and the backing itself is in somewhat poor shape. I just wanted a mirror there to have a nearly full-length in the bathroom when I got dressed, and to make the room look larger, and I’ve never changed it. The door is a bi-fold, so depending on how the door folds it reflects different areas and different windows.

Bella, Vintage 2

Bella, Vintage 2

In this case, it’s folded far enough that I saw Bella’s reflection from outside the bathroom on top of the wardrobe, and all those nicks and dings and mis-reflections give the photos of Bella the feel and dulled color of a vintage photo. These are taken with my smartphone which I held against the mirror at an angle so that it would not be reflected but I would still be able to focus on Bella’s image. I intentionally caught the flaws in the mirror, which is also kind of cool, a little ghostly, and I moved the it up and down to capture different flawed areas for different effects.

Bella, Vintage 1

Bella, Vintage 1

I didn’t edit any of them at all. It was fun to see what came out.

For more feline photos, visit The Creative Cat.

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


Le Matin Bleu

cat in silhouette
cat in silhouette

Le Matin Bleu

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

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

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

Seen first on The Creative Cat.

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

 


Birdwatching

two black cats looking out a window
two black cats looking out a window

Birdwatching

Mimi and Mr. Sunshine keep an eye on the activities at the bird feeders as the snow swirls around outside their window. Is it birdwatching, or meditation, both, or do the mesmerizing movements of the birds and snow lead to a meditative state? They do for me, but perhaps I’m overthinking this.

This photo won a Certificate of Excellence as a Black & White Photo in the 2011 Cat Writers’ Association Communication Contest.

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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.


Mewsette’s Minions

black cat with pumpkins
black cat with pumpkins

Mewse4tte and her minions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


My Shadow Self

cat shadow
cat shadow

My Shadow Self

My black kitty Mimi greets her shadow cast in a pool of sunlight The light shining through old wavy glass creates a subtle pattern of shadow and light that resembles water mingled with the gentle striations of pale wood grain. Is it water, or is it light? Or is it an illusion? Does Mimi look at her darker self, or just the self she has become at age 11 after six early litters of kittens, life on the streets, rescue and life in a safe and comfortable home? I think I feel a poem coming on.

It’s challenging enough to photograph black cats, let alone in high-contrasting sun and shadow, and when there are as many as five if the whole family is together, but this is one I love.

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


Be In Your Own Moment

Be in your own moment.

Be in your own moment.

Jelly Bean is certainly enjoying a moment of his own making here atop the wardrobe. It began all on its own as he gave himself a bath then began rolling around and talking to himself, unaware, unconcerned, that anyone was watching or listening.

I enjoyed watching him, then picked up my camera with the telephoto lens and had a moment of my own in photographing him in his moment, using the light, the curtain, the lenses, focusing here and there and changing the f-stop and exposure as I pleased, the actions over the years I’ve come to call “painting with my camera”. I had no post-processing on this photo, it is what it is, and I’m pretty happy with it, as I think Jelly Bean was also very happy with his moment.

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This image and post began with quite a different plan from what is here. The journey itself was a lesson, and led me to “Be in your own moment” by being in my own moment.

I began with a quote I’d seen in a meme on Facebook:

If you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
~Lao Tzu, Tao te Ching

I liked this quote, it spoke to me on many levels, and I find it, basically, to be true, especially the part about living in the present. I enjoy reading several translations of the Tao te Ching, and always find something that speaks to me at that moment. I decided that I would use these words to make my own meme someday, and even had the idea to use a photo of Mewsette in a position similar to JB, picturing the black and white photo with its focus on Mewsette’s eye and the softened reflection of the lace curtain in the mirror, and relished the thought of choosing the font and putting the image together. I don’t enjoy graphic design as much as I used to, but I try to put aside time for fun things a few times a week to give myself a reward for designing the things that aren’t as much fun as they used to be. Before Facebook these memes were just called “quotes” and were often available as posters, and I designed plenty and also hand lettered quite a few in my years as a graphic designer, to give myself experience and something fun to do with this medium.

I pulled up Mewsette’s photo and the quote and drafted a bit of text comparing my being in the moment and how I enjoy my felines being in the moment, figuring this would be quick and fun and I’d have been done this morning. Before I’ll use a quote I will trace it back to its source. The source for this quote was not Lao Tzu, nor the Tao te Ching. It wasn’t even an alternate translation of anything in the Tao te Ching. In fact, I found it in an article about misappropriated quotes from the Tao te Ching that’s pretty funny, and looked through various translations to find something that might correspond so I could get to the original. No luck. Well, someone had taken quite a few liberties with words. That was okay, I still liked what the quote had to say, and knew of another similar one from Henry David Thoreau I’d seen in another meme that would work for the concept of being in the moment and looking within yourself.

What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lives within us.
~Henry David Thoreau

Sigh. This was actually said by someone else as I found on a page of Thoreau mis-quotations. It’s still a nice quote, but…no.

Facebook memes aren’t the culprit—this sort of misuse of another’s words happened with posters and greeting cards and calendars before the internet even existed. So here was the lesson, and it’s one I should have known: I was trying to use someone else’s inspiration, words, moment, to express something I felt deeply myself. I had been inspired by the meme and the quote, but was warned twice about not looking deeply enough into myself to express my own self, a lesson I learned with both art and writing. Be inspired by others, but find your own means of expression. It’s the sincerity that counts and I was not being sincere. I thought of all the art and writing I’ve been creating and knew the kernel of its success—getting to that space where I am completely within my own inspiration and working toward that end. I was in my own moment. I remembered the photo above and how much enjoyment Bean was getting all by himself. He may have seen me photographing him—cats don’t miss much and later in the session he turned and looked at me—but I was just another element on the periphery of his moment, he wasn’t looking at the world upside down because of me. As, when I was photographing him, was he, even though he was the subject and the reason I began photographing, but he led me to the pursuit of an image, my own unique visual voice describing what I felt was the depth of that moment for me.

The pursuit of the first quote led me to this conclusion, and the pursuit of the second quote led me back to myself, and my own words, and Jelly Bean finished it all off.

And here is part of the other reason for this post today as well.

It’s easy to be in the moment when you’re a feline living in a loving home since the humans take care of many things for you. But isn’t that part of the lesson? Find the place where you belong, surround yourself with supportive people and circumstances so that you can live in your moment?

When I make my art and when I write I am in the moment with what I’m doing, often not particularly aware of my surroundings, in part because I’ve set myself up for that moment so that I can let go. I do this at other times as well, usually around my creative life, and also around mundanities, like washing dishes. It’s a break from the constant push and pull of what is and what needs to be. And it’s very welcome when I’m feeling trapped in a situation, stuck in traffic or embroiled a long-term issue, to let it go and be in the moment without holding the past and future one in each hand. Watching my cats reminds me of that.

And the other lesson in all of this is perhaps a bit of pride, that I thought I’d be a half hour at this yet it took a few hours off and on during the day to look up the quote and then determine that I was really intended to do my own thing. And in that pursuit I was in yet another creative moment, my own moment, letting go of past and future and focusing on “now”. It’s all just cycling in on itself and it’s exciting when things come together like that.

wild black cherry tree

The wild black cherry tree.

I don’t always live in the moment, in fact a good bit of what I do is plan for the future. Worry, or being anxious as the first quote had mentioned, is another thing entirely. Worry is unproductive and does not solve problems, only holds onto them. But the other big thing that took my time today was taking care of an issue with a tree in my yard and by extension several of them.

One of my trees was hit by lightning in storms we had last night, while I was out. I didn’t see it when I came home after dark, but I certainly noticed this morning when I came downstairs and looked out the side window and saw way more sky than I should have. The entire top of my wild black cherry tree is laying in my neighbor’s yard, neatly falling right in their small yard and mercifully missing their porch, main roof and shed; they were the ones who told me lightning had struck it. A large branch is also in my yard, but more than that I was concerned that more violent storms were forecast and the tree might be unsound, and could split and fall on their house or mine. I called a customer of mine who owns a tree service company (I painted his trucks and construction signs 28 years ago when he went into business), and asked him to take a look at it, and also a few of my other trees that have been dropping branches and creaking in the wind. It looks like I’ll be losing a few of my trees here, the big old ones that are getting sparse already anyway.

I love my trees, they are my friends and protectors, the wall that gives me privacy in this tightly constructed neighborhood. My habitat will be changing, and it will be an expense. But not to worry, time to plan and planning is exciting, change can be a positive thing as well. My maples have had good long lives, and I will have the opportunity to change the front of my home to something new.


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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 Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.


© 2014 | www.TheCreativeCat.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
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Textures in Sun

Textures and Shadows

Textures in Sun

Three black cats share a sunbeam, Mr. Sunshine, Giuseppe and Mewsette.

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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.


Truly Spring

black cat at window with sunflares
black cat at window with sunflares

Truly Spring

Truly spring has arrived at the morning widow as Mimi is bathed in pinks and surrounded by rainbows.

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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.


Mewsette Ponders Green

black cat with green dish
black cat with green dish

Mewsette Ponders Green

The world alight in
green
shades more than
I
have
brilliant
life
given
giving
and glows in
spring
showers on all
I
love.

A little abstract ode to spring to accompany a little sort of abstract photo of Mewsette pondering the green plate, showers on her nose, and it does glow with the life-giving sun of late afternoon.

Happy spring everyone!

Poem ©2012 Bernadette E. Kazmarski


Read other poems inspired by my cats and listen to those I’ve recorded, and read about my poetry on The Creative Cat.

Rainy Window

black cat looking out rainy window
black cat looking out rainy window

Giuseppe watches the rain.

These are two photos from a series I took of one of my black cats looking out a rainy window. Today is rainy and contemplative and I thought I’d share them here; you can read the post about them on The Creative Cat.

black cat by rainy window

Giuseppe looks away from the window.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.

 


Poem for Sunday: An Old Memory

photo of cat looking out window with snowflakes
photo of cat looking out window with snowflakes

An Old Memory

I took the photo in 1983, just a few months after I got my first camera and I was only shooting black and white so I could learn how to use the camera. Even though it was black and white film, it was processed in a one-hour development machine intended for color and the black and white ended up sepia, which I really liked better than when I had it printed in black and white. It always looked like an older image and the sepia really reinforces that; it’s from the same era as “A Sunny Room”, and incidentally, the same cat, Kublai.

The holidays are a time for celebration as well as a time for reflection and remembering.

An Old Memory

Cut-paper snowflakes taped
to a wavy glass window reflecting
the big front porch from an apartment I lived in long ago,
and a cat I will always remember from when he and I were very young,
just beginning,
me just getting to know my camera, and my art;
how did I capture a perfectly blended image to reflect those times?

Poem © 2009 Bernadette E. Kazmarski

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Where to find this image

This was my holiday card from 2009, and I published it for sale in 2010. The message inside reads, “Wishing you wonderful memories this holiday season and new year.” The poem is printed on the back. You can find it in my Etsy shop singly or in a box of a dozen.


Window

black cat looking out of window
black cat looking out of window

Window

Just looking quietly at a frosty morning, a little spill of sun.

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For a print of any photo, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms. For photos of lots of black cats and other cats—and even some birds as I first published this post there—visit The Creative Cat.


Poem for Sunday: The Gift of a Morning

tortoiseshell cat in greens

Cookie in my garden.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Gift of a Morning

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

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

poem © 2010 B. E. Kazmarski


Mewsette in Morning Shadows

black cat with shadow
black cat with shadow

Mewsette in Morning Shadows

Mewsette deeply contemplates something as the leaves outside cast random shadows in the sun through the screen door in the basement.

I post images of my feline household each day on The Creative Cat and like to share one here now and then.


Who Is That Tall, Dark Stranger?

cat paw with shadows on table
cat paw with shadows on table

Who is that tall, dark stranger who’s come to town? It wouldn’t be…Sir Jelly of Bean?

A tall, dark stranger came to town, casting a long shadow in the evening sun as he slowly walked across…the table.

For more cat photos, visit The Creative Cat.


Poem for Sunday: Things I Found in the Woods

fern frond in the woods

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

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

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

Things I Found in the Woods

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So was Moses. So should I.

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

Listen to the Poem

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


poetry book

Paths I Have Walked, collected poems.

I’m proud to offer a folio of my poetry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the books and the poetry readings

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

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

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


Reflection

black cat looking out window
black cat looking out window

Mewsette reflects on the morning.

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

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

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


Snow Light

Snow Light
Snow Light

Snow Light

Not coincidental with yesterday’s photo of my black kitty Mimi, who is mom to these two, this is one of my favorite photos of them, and of snow light in January. Photographing this family of black cats in everyday room light, capturing details in their fur while not overexposing the background, is a constant but exciting challenge.

Mewsette and Mr. Sunshine are simply so gracefully composed, and that grace and pose are completely natural. The cool light from the winter morning washes the background in cool colors, so the amber of their eyes and the art glass sparkles.

Nothing special, just brother and sister quietly sitting together looking out into the backyard from the second floor window. It’s one of the best vantage points in the house; from the top of the little armoire at the top of the stairs they can see into the two bedrooms, down the stairs and out the back window and, to a limited extent, out the front windows in the bedrooms.

I have many photos of my cats atop this pine wardrobe, but this is one of my favorite photos of that scene, and of my cats in general. You can find more photos of them on The Creative Cat.


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


Cool Cat Mimi

black cat looking through deck railing
Mimi in cool colors.

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

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

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

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


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

 


Through the Looking Glass, and What Mimi Found There

black cat looking in mirror
black cat looking in mirror

Through the Looking Glass, and What Mimi Found There

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

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

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

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


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


Shadow Kitty

shadows on door cat and leaves

Shadow Kitty, subtle

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

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

shadows on door cat and leaves

Shadow Kitty, large.


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