Word and Image

Cat

Revival

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Scotland! I owe Colleen a return trip. Our flight was canceled at the onset of the Covid shutdown. It rains a lot in Scotland, hence the same rain jackets throughout. This time we will take more rain gear. The thistle is a Scottish national emblem. Cat? Shhh… not mine. We cannot pass a bookstore without stopping.

Ah! Revival? I have resurrected my old blog site Photocritical. In case you clicked on it in the past… I have recently begun to post there once again. Thank you all who have followed and visited this blog. Meanwhile, I am making a shameless plug for you to have the opportunity to see other photos.


Seven cats

Eight pictures six cats. We are doing a kitchen renovation. The cats are kept free and separated from the workmen. I got two or three (cats). They are spooked. Strangers! So, they hide. The others are with Colleen and want to see. They are ready to go explore the doings. Sort of. Several want out. Freedom! And Feather? She has steadfastly remained hidden under the couch since the doorbell rang.


You don’t see this

By the time this post goes live it will either be a great success or…. (Keep your mouth shut, declare victory.) It was a long time coming. We updated the kitchen. We kept the cabinet boxes and just had the cabinet face done over. The appliances are all new, now. It took years. One appliance died followed by another and… The last to go was the oven/microwave. That was $$$. Combine two appliances and you pay $$$ for the pair.

The counters are clear!! That will never happen again! Ever! But we will try. Ever resolute we will try not to store back all the clutter we have not used since the stuff went into the cabinets. Sentimental!?!? For sure! After all it is hard to get rid of a yogurt-maker we haven’t used in eight years. We eat yogurt all the time.

I am putting in a glass tile backsplash. I can’t wait to cut tile around the outlets. So much fun!! And yes, there was time for games before the real work started.


Lately

What’s up?

Today is a series of non sequiturs. Bugs? Caterpillars? They walk into my pictures and jump onto my camera sensor on the way to my memory card. See the fine hair detail on the bug? There’s not much detail in the caterpillar. Was it me or the worm? Colleen made a cobbler from fresh picked white peaches. Yum! Cats preoccupy our attention. I am charged with getting their pictures. It’s a specialty. Cats do not pose on demand. Ever! Clouds? Lately the clouds have been distinct against a bright blue sky. Great! Flowers? Macro lens and super detail. The featured flower gives me the impression it is waiting to devour an unsuspecting bug that wanders into its maw. So many pictures so little time…


This one

Ya gotta love Jane. You are only as good as your filing system? Jane asked, “ You took this picture in Dec 2017. I want an enlargement framed.” Well, you know that specificity resulted in a series of queries about which picture and the fact that I take a lot (of pictures) about 7,000 a month….. The result is the beach erosion shot. I looked at the metadata – img_2008. Easy!! Go to the external drive where all the images of this number could be – about 400k images worth…. Nope, nada… the metadata was incorrect. I got a nice sunset?

It won’t happen via database or searching Dec, 2017 files. How about manually visually checking? Well, it would help if I had the correct year. Nope. Jane could not remember the exact year when I tried to pin her down a bit more. Jane?!?!!!!

We were in our brief Cracker Barrel stage. The cats sleep on Colleen. Dave? Nice hat, it was for Xmas. I don’t think he ever wore it again. When was Soph this small?

More December? Different years? After all, it is Jane. Did I mention she has a completely different logical thought process than ordinary women – aka “ditzy!!” Ya gotta love her. She throws non sequiturs like comedy punchlines. Lucy and the football, I bite every time. Oy!

As I said, “briefly” – Cracker Barrel – once more. We were in DC – the one and only – when I first got this camera. The “img_” indicates the file Jane seeks came from this camera. She swears I took the picture without any other backup collaboration. I remember beach erosion and taking pictures of it. Where? When? My database does not come up with any key words – nor’easter, storm, erosion, etc. Venus rising from the sea? We stayed in a mansion in Elkins one Xmas. Claw foot tub, it wsa picturesque, and, cold!! I was about as surprised as you (and her) to find this picture in the December collection. And, I found that I had bought the silly hat a couple years earlier. Jokes can sometimes take a while to get to the punchline – I don’t think he ever wore it, again.

Meanwhile I never did find the picture Jane wants. I probably never took it. Who knows?

As for December – I have been in a lot of places – Elkins, Colorado, Arizona, California, Washington DC, Saudi Arabia, Ohio; Cracker Barrel, Grand Canyon, Eddie Bauer… An I have been with great beauty, family, friends, and my dearest Colleen. This partial list tells me that December has been a fun month full of surprise and adventure thanks to Colleen, who always seems to have an idea and a plan. And thanks to Jane I am still looking for that picture.


Cruisin’

I cruise the garden for photo ops. I sit and photo the dawn and dusk out my window. I get a gallery’s worth of pics. My cats are not exactly cooperative. The key is to focus on their eyes. They won’t look at me. Boring. Me?! Ha ha! Bugs come and go. They fly in and I shoot. Water? It rains and I water. It’s another opportunity. Life is pretty peaceful right now. I hope it stays that way.


Reform

Ha ha. I just broke my own resolve. One image. One story. I can do that?! Ok, I shall be less exuberant. Sort of? Confused? Well, the blog started as one picture a day. And with so much material…. Meanwhile, Spice looks stern enough to hold me accountable. Right!? Water and flowers? It’s a good picture. And it is different. I get thousands of pictures of the flowers in my garden at this time of year. So?! The same pictures? Boring! Well, not exactly. It’s like clouds, every one is different. Yeah, but! Go figure. Flowers and cats, my favorite subjects at this time of year are worthy images. It’s for fun after all. And I do it to showcase good images. Redundancy was never an issue before. Am I repeating myself? Was there a story here? We’ll see. Pun?


Antique

Some days it is about the story rather than the image. An antique is something older than 100 years. Short of that it is vintage. Ha ha. We are vintage. Less than 100 for sure! But what constitutes old in the eyes of the court? That would be older than 70. That is the age cut off for jury duty – older than 70. Hey hey! Finally! I can thumb my nose at the jury duty notice. Ahem? Too old? Demented? Feeble? Infirm? Dunno, just check the box and decline service. Done.

Meanwhile a variation on an old joke: What’s the worst thing about being a grandpa? Eating (sleeping) with a grandma. Chuckle laugh groan – nope, not this one. She loves to eat out. And, I love her! No more jury duty anxiety. We earned it! Cheers!

For illustrative purpose – that is Spice eating a butterfly. Eewww! And why is it that angels play harps? Just wondering? Moreover, when they picked me for jury duty, I gratefully declined. And, no, I did not say Colleen was old. Hardly! They did not call upon her….


Cats

There was a point where we had three sets of identical twin cats. We lost two cats in the past year – cancer and sudden death. They are not forgotten. Missed – terribly! You get over it? Not really. I miss the cats I left behind in Saudi – Lulu, Cassie, Biddie. Cats have come and gone in my life nowadays. I haunt cat rescue looking for an outsize character like Ray. The cats at home are unique characters, and all are loved. Sometimes you would think there are too many cats to keep track of. Actually, it was harder to tell the twins apart.

Patch and Willow were virtually identical. I could only tell who’s who by the behavior of each cat. The others had slightly different markings that allowed me to tell who was who but only by seeing the whole cat. Face on each twin was identical to me. For Colleen – well, a mother always knows….


Set a task

I’m retired now. I don’t want to work hard. Things just jump out sometimes. Today, I was wandering around with my macro lens. The lens restricts you to a single focal length. It is a close-up lens so the composition is different in that you are closely focused on the face. It was easy to get Nutley and Spice. They cooperate. It’s easier for them to sit than running away from me. Willow has deep set eyes. Lighting is a problem for him. Peas and Tillie are skittish. They sit still rarely and only for a few seconds at a time. They pretty much never look at my lens. That leaves Feather. She cooperates well enough if you can find her. Finally, there is Elle. She is always hiding out. Skittish and camera shy. For a very long time she ran when she saw my camera point in her direction. Now she is resigned. I think it would be easier if I had fewer cats to chase. Seven, try rounding up seven cats. Ha ha. And, who’s the favorite? We all have our preference. I love them all, but….


Drama

The good pictures “pop!” Pop? Well, they stand out. I take lots of technically sound images. The ones that stand out for me? I have no particular criteria. Like it or not. It just stands apart from the other choices. Notable! Noteworthy! And then forgotten. Not forgot but just moved to the back; there are more better images coming all the time. TMI. Who can keep up in today’s digital world? Indeed, I feel overwhelmed. Whereas I shot parsimoniously in slide film, digital is a free-for-all. It is nothing to pass thru my garden and have several hundred good images of the blossoms each day. Oh well, bugs and cats, that is my world today. Tomorrow another subject will catch my eye.  


It’s easy

Family photo. I just call. The cats obediently line up. Click. Done.

This particular time Elle led us on a merry chase. She’s smart. And quick. We eventually caught her. No one gets to decline my invitation to be in the family photo. Yeah, yeah, it ain’t perfect. The lighting is the same – flash. And the camera is on a tripod. So, except for the position of the models it should all match up pretty well. In theory?! In reality it is never quite ideal. Multiple redundant shots are used to get acceptable poses. It is good enough to pass a casual test. Alas, this image portrays our family and changes that have occurred. It’s seven cats – count ‘em. Soon enough that number may change (increase). I am feeling lucky! No doubt I feel so very fortunate to have a wonderful family.

What’s fake? The straight line? Ha ha, no. Spice and Peas are next to one another. They are arch enemies. Wrong! Colleen has identified Peas next to Feather. Shhh… I cannot tell the kids apart. Birthdays? Don’t ask.


Amalgam

A mixture or blend used more in dentistry than in everyday language. I have an amalgam of cats, characters one and all, independent, and full of possibility. I almost never get to photograph them together. Individually, they are hard enough to capture, especially Tillie. Black cats just don’t photograph well; the fur has no texture. Lighting is the key. Look at the camera; cats pretty much never look into the lens. You must position your camera in front of the cat; it works. Sphinx like? – mysterious and not allowing people to know what you are thinking. A classic pose! Why seven cats?! Well, I got snagged by kittens – in pairs – when I in the pet store to get food. It happened three, Three, THREE!!, times. We are very lucky. No, no more kittens. Ha ha. Yeah, I can do the math too. Sadly, we lost a couple along the way.

The numbers vary. We remain a merry band. I do not have a current amalgamated image. It’s bittersweet. Oh well, time to gather the crew….


A year ago

It seems so long ago… but it was but a year ago. I was on a quest for a good pizza. It was not easy and did not come for a good long while. We discovered Milton. So? It’s been there for a long time already… Flowers on my deck, they are the same and they are different. The black-eyed Susan were abundant. Perennial plants, they did not come back robustly again this year. Peas was a brand new kitten that came home with us. Donna had a different wig. Mozzarella and tomatoes, a summer classic is usually served in one dish together. The lighting is stark. I guess that is why the image caught my eye. The selfie: I just got a throwback Canon G3, my first digital camera. The original went lost and missing. Not too bad, except I got old. It’s a year later and I am still seeking a good pizza.


Wild kingdom

Survival of the fittest, they called it on the nature programs of my youth. This was the euphemism used in the program after particularly gruesome kills in the wild. I got a “bug” cat, Nutley. He stalks, hunts, and catches. Ah, a butterfly, he bit off its wings without killing it. He pawed and soon lost curiosity. The thrill of the chase appealed to him, but, Nutley had no appetite for bugs. Tillie soon saw and was curious without any hunger. Finally, Spice – capture, kill, and eat. Her sister was curious but bore no appetite. Yeah, I watched it play out in real time. No bug for me. The cats hunt. I do not.


Rated well

I go with what strikes me as I edit. No overthinking. I just go with the gut. One star – ok, but not quite. Two star – good solid technically good. Three star – rare, it just stands out. Four and five – hardly ever.

Water is always good in a flower shot. It’s above ordinary. I don’t get water too often. Cats – my black cat is hard to image and she is hard to pin down for a focused shot of her eyes. You’d think it’s easy. I get the eyes on all my other cats. Nope! And getting texture on the fur is a challenge too. But the eyes… except, it’s nice to see the tongue. Cats do not stick out their tongue. It’s different. Worms and bugs – not so easy. I got this caterpillar by chance. I nearly missed it. It was so tiny. Focus! It’s critical. Otherwise, it’s not a shot. And the moth? Not so simple, this one was all over skittering from blossom to blossom. I stood still and just waited to shoot when it landed again. Focus, otherwise, it’s not a shot. There were a lot of “not” shots. Among thousands of shots there are only a very few rated three stars.


Sitting tight

We got seven cats and counting. Counting? Holding! No more cats. It’s a hard resolution to abide by. You have to be hardened. Cute!! The new kittens in the pet store are cute!! Don’t take my word for it… I am banned from going in the pet store. The interview: stick finger inside the cage; see who grabs on and clings; take lucky (winning) candidate home. It’s how we got three sets of twins. Ha ha. Ya can’t leave/take just one! Seven cats, characters all, it’s a madhouse of personalities. We keep going back to the pet store… cats gotta eat.


Who’s missing?

Missing? Ha ha. It’s cats and flowers. I simply have too many. Flowers are available in great quantity, too numerous to choose one above the others. Cats, I have seven. Try to herd them together. Nope, not happening. The best I can do is to get some individual shots (of the cats) and usually I will not see them all at the same time. Feather is smart enough to avoid me when she wants to hide. Smart cats? Oh, yes! May I also “point” out that the family responds to command and suggestion differently as is amply on display here. They are cooperative but can be hard to herd together too.


Icebreaker

I have a secret life. ??? I am shy. My interests are unlike most other people. In other words they find me boring or I do them. Large groups are worse. It is a lot of noise and chatter. Politics no, nope, nada – outta bounds. What? So, I just circulate the room and never say anything. No harm no foul. I enjoy my solitude with Colleen. As for the rest, they all pose when I point the camera as I document the family legacy. Who would remember the conversation anyway? The upshot: I was there: we wuz there: there is a historical record for the generations to come. Good. Boo! Negative waves! Nope, a good time was had by all… see the smiles!


Practice

I got good! Better?! New baby! This was my first try with our brand-new granddaughter. Photographically it was a success. I have learned. Hey! It’s not too late to learn. What? There are so many things to keep in mind – exposure, focus, composition, timing, etc. Whatever. As in, whatever makes you smile, is a “keeper,” a “winner.” You gotta shoot a lot of pictures to get a “keeper.”

Cats. What I learned from my cats helped me get better shots of newborn babies. ?? Cats do not pose or follow instructions. They – cats – do not smile on demand. And most importantly I learned to position my camera lens in front of the eyes instead of waiting for the cat to look at me when I called. Eye contact! Aha! Simple, ain’t it?


Do you see…

…what I see. Ha ha. Christmas in July? August? Macro is a counter-intuitive term to me. It should be macro. So?! Whatever. I see detail. I cannot see it (fine detail) without that macro lens, and only after post-processing. Do you?

Here’s how it goes: The detail of the (hairy) pistil is only evident when you enlarge the image by about 10X. Oh! Ah! There’s a fine line between ooooh and ah!

Dammit! (an aside) All of this posting ain’t free. You run out of storage space and pay WordPress an annual fee. Damn! So, I’m outta space. Just now! Just this very post! And, I gotta pay – more! I almost stopped publishing. Oh, well, I guess the show will go on. Send money please….

At the end of the day, it’s all macro, through my macro lens. But, some things are enlarged further. I could do it all with normal lens – mostly, but not all. Technology?! Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. Colleen, the credit card bill went up again.


A day

Pulling out of the garage, there was Willow on the balcony. Left there, he might be cooked/baked in the sun. That would be awkward. Do ya think? He’s a good cat. We love him. … inside.

A new restaurant. Italian, in a strip mall? Ok?! The waitress sings while you eat. Oops! Not a waitress, the owner!? Major oops! Jen made the reservation. It was her faux pas. Fun?! You bet. What to wear? Shorts? Do you remember eating formally with a tie and jacket?

Stop! We had to stop for a spectacular sunset on the way home. A couple would not clear my shot. Ok! No complaint except I wish it was someone photographing us. But, you get the idea. And, I love my wife… you see a sunset you hold her hand.

Protocol? It said in big bold letters: Absolutely no recording or photography. There was a metal detector and bag check as we entered. You cannot keep cellphones out of the venue. People either don’t read or don’t care – they took video throughout the performance. Me? Break the rule/law? … at the end. Colleen had been waiting to see this artist for a long time….


Road trip

Covid is still around us. Emma got it. Jason got it. Our trip was torn to sunder. We have a Plan B.

How do you watch the Jan 6 Hearings without an internet connection or TV? Unlimited ATT data stream. It did not work on my DirectTV connection, or, on the NYT site. We went to the NPR site for a while till the tech caught up. Riveting?!

Travel day is always traumatic. Nutley was pretty much clinging to Colleen’s leg. Don’t go! I will miss my (flowers) cats! Things change. Clouds! Colleen’s favorite coffee shop is moving! Did I mention, Jane loves to eat out. Travel days are always eventful. I changed light bulbs. The string on Jane’s weed eater takes .065 string. It says: right on the label! Calm down. Maintain humor.

Epilogue: ? This requires one? Walmart: .065 string, 1,2,3… It doesn’t fit. The fitting is all proprietary!!! The different companies all carry their own specific string container. Scott is a POS – piece of shit. They are not on the internet with any replacement string. I had to buy a whole new one (weed whacker!) from Amazon!! Yup, the great mega store in the sky!


Choices

Everyday there are choices to be made. Pick a picture(s). Cats? Flowers? Old photos?

Old photos? Colleen has a few photos in her archive. They are scattered, disorganized, and precious. Precious few, precious photos. Old black and whites depict images of family from long ago. The folks are known and remembered. Memory fades. I hope the legacy will endure.

Or, it would be – pick a flower. I got lots. It’s like diving. I do a photo survey about twice a day on two decks. I cull out the best in my editing. My digital archive is expansive. … so many pics, so many choices… Quintessential? I’m still looking…

Cats?! Ha ha. I got seven characters. Their numbers vary. Their behaviors are sometimes quite charming. Baskets, boxes, containers? All are fair game. They patiently wait and take their turns. Cuteness reigns. We (wistfully) remember the missing (cats). This would be Feather and Nutley. Ha ha, I can count too.