Word and Image

Cat

Aha!

Chances are that you are reading this blog for the pictures. The technical aspects are merely curiosities and my diatribes on photo technique are too much; just get to the picture. After all my photo magazine subscriptions ended, I began reading online. Here is a recent article right up my alley:

1. Covid and all those unscanned slides? Sure! Go ahead and scan your old slides.

2. Software – The Nikon scanner software just disappeared. Vuescan or Silverfast. Silverfast is clunky hard to use. Aha! Right!

Honest! I didn’t do this. My cat jumped into the basket and fit himself into the cramped space. He was perfectly content to nestle in and just stare back at me. Don’t ask me which twin this would be. Whatever I say would be trouble for me. Colleen will correct me and I always listen to her. Always….


Confusion reigns

It was just a joke in the beginning. Back in 2015, I did a Photoshop mash-up of our three cats. Crude, would be too kind a criticism. But then again, it was an “in your face” mash-up. The sisters arrived in January, 2017 and the twins came in July, 2018. Sometime in July 2018 we did a family portrait. And, in December, 2019 we followed up once more – a picture, not more cats.

In November, 2020 we did two takes on the same day. The ladies at CVS were amazed when (with a straight face) I told them that all my seven cats just lined up on the table upon my command to do this group shot.

Confused? It feels like a history test on which general won what battle on which date? Yeah! I went back to find dates. My vaunted file system failed until it was successful in tracking down the photo shoots and their dates. There was no group shot in 2016 or 2017. I don’t suppose you care too much for the dates or my search of a catalog holding hundreds of thousands of images. Our family continues to expand and contract. I will be more diligent of keeping track of family groupings. But, as of this post we are up to date. Alas, Patch passed away in February. That will change my next shot.

Make no mistake, you don’t simply go out and replace a pet. Patch’s recent death has left a hole in our hearts. And, you may continue to shake your head and think we are nuts. Somehow the chaos of cats all about is an acquired taste. And, I didn’t do it correctly – see – two new kittens, not one, Tillie & Peas (in 2021). Patch fly with the snow geese; we miss you.


Victor 6… and Feather

Fun with a tripod. I bet it’s easy to do with an iPhone…  Every tool is specific for its job. When I play with group shots there is planning involved. But as you can readily see, I am fast! Zzzzzt…. I simply raced around the table to snap the picture all the while leaving the shutter open. Superhero, Superman fast? No, I’m not. I simply had a little help from myself. After all, who would cooperate with me better than myself? There are those of you who will believe I did this in one sitting (with or without pun?). Indeed! I did. My beloved wife laughs. She thinks I’m a nut. Would that be in a social context or medical diagnosis? Two computers, different models; one cat, my beloved favorite (cat). This time herding cats was not needed. Call me anything you like, but, never call me late for dinner.


Art? Rockwell? Or fun with cats?

It’s near April and I’m still on Xmas. We grabbed the nearest cats for a selfie. They did not volunteer. And when you aren’t looking, they wander into the picture.

If you’ve been our house you know there is no space – nada, none! – for another loom. Ray (the cat):  Oh! A little loom. Action? (See the paper being tossed by Colleen.) The cats love the boxes Amazon delivers. And they love the tissue paper. It’s their best treat ever. Sweet. Everyone goes away happy. Now, to round up all the other stray kitties….


I made this

Ha ha. We are in a puzzle stage. Puzzle? Yes, we are making puzzles to pass the time. And after the last one – not pictured – (ha ha) I decided to design one myself. Online, they do everything. I found a website. They made a picture into a puzzle. It worked out as well as any other puzzle we have. Yes, it’s a flock of yellow sheep. We came across this group while traveling in Scotland. I’m not name dropping or bragging. It’s just: this is not something you see every day. In the background (did you peek?) there’s my nutty cat. He climbed to the top of the bookcase and leaped down. Ha ha, I made you peek.


Around the bird feeder

I was keeping to posting one picture a day. Now, I cheat. I can get around my own rule by making a collage layout. Hey! I have too many images and so little time! The bird feeder is shared by one and all. The birds, a few, eat. The cats have Cat TV. The squirrels disrupt the whole show. (Hey! Squirrels gotta eat too.) My cat Nutley has now been trained (by me!) to go chase the squirrel and then return to the home so I don’t have to get cold on the deck. Ha! (I have to chase Nutley inside, instead.) And, the bonus, I get to take pictures of the proceedings. Colleen has to cajole me daily to go feed the birds. Who knew this could be so much work (fun?)?


Unrelated

Completely unrelated to the pictures in the post and the fact that it is April Fool’s Day, I write about back-up errors. My many images are backed up redundantly on multiple hard drives. I download my memory card directly to each drive. Needless to say, I am almost OCD about the process. Really! So, there are errors. There always are. The maddening part is that you just don’t know where the errors are located. I randomly hit on an image in the Lightroom catalog. The dialog said the file could not be found, locate it. Ok. I went to the external drive and the entire folder of images was empty. The other three back-up drives all showed an empty folder. My database said I had 111 images downloaded to that folder. The catalog showed the file images that were supposed to be there and were now missing. Mystery?! In my OCD ways, I never throw anything out. Similarly, I don’t wipe my memory cards. I just store them away. Ha ha. Nuts! After about an hour, I found the memory card and the files. All four current backup drives are updated. Life goes on. Truth! Back up your stuff. There are always errors. I refuse to lose sleep over it. But rest assured, there are errors.

The post? It is April Fool’s Day. Ray is up in the window. He got there climbing the bookcase. How? I haven’t a clue.


Evolution

How many outstanding pictures do I have? How many stories are there? At one picture a day…. one story at a time? I’ve been at it for nearly 10 years. It must be quite a collection spanning a decade of change. People come and go. Changes large and small occur. Relationships change. 2011, I was in NY working in NJ. I had rediscovered a long lost cousin, Amy. John had fallen ill. I had been in touch with Colleen to lose her again until 2014. I had never traveled to the Middle East. Scuba diving was on my bucket list. One great shot – there are so many, or, so few – or would it be an essay story of illustrations? Hey! I never work with a plan. I’m just trying to get from here to there. Where? Dunno!? I’m more of, make lemonade if you get lemons, kind of guy. Story or the image. Image or the story. It’s all good right now, in this place.


Not my cat

Heresy! I have been back to this image three times. I got a good one of Harry. Jen agrees nice picture, it’s her cat. My own cats don’t know enough to be jealous. Harriet was a girl till the vet told Jen the truth about Harry. Meanwhile, the stars aligned and I got a good shot of Harry. At first, I didn’t want to post it. But then, I got brave, when I realized my cats don’t read. (Being a pet photographer is easy… til you gotta do it for money.) Ha ha, did you think I got another cat?


Family pic

As they said in the movie “Jaws,” We’re gonna need a bigger (boat) table.” Ha ha. After Patch passed away in February, it just wasn’t quite as chaotic as we are used to at feeding time. We held tryouts. It wasn’t that hard. Cat’s just gotta snuggle in your arms and dig her claws in – she’s going home with you! Tillie (black cat) is on double secret probation – ala “Animal House.” She snarled and growled at me. Me? Have you ever played, ‘spin the cat?’ Ha ha. I think Tillie has an opinion. Meanwhile, Dave said, “No more cats!” What can I say? Tillie and Peas are sisters – from different mothers? And, the pet store ladies laugh when they see me come in. They even asked if I wanted another, “Please?” when we came in today for more food. Colleen does higher math: that would be 3 1/2 sets of twins and a single (Elle).


Ambushed

One day later…. I mean, the very next day… I went back to the pet store to return the carrier we took Tillie home in. The very nice ladies came from behind the counter and exclaimed, “We did not realize that the cat in the crate above is Tillie’s sister. They (the sisters) came in and Tillie was gone with you before we could put the sisters together.” Right, I see a “con” job coming from a mile off. Get out of town! Colleen swooned, “We can’t separate sisters. That would be so mean!” We returned the next day and Peas was sitting there all perky and cute. She had on her best “take me home” look. And, it was instant. Colleen was not putting her down. And, I got another cat in the bargain. “Peas?” It is – may I have another please? – from “Oliver” or “Animal House.” Either way, Peas it is.


Tillie

Black cats are like black dogs – hard to photograph. Things have not changed since Reggie, the dog. Tillie passed “tryouts.” This time she latched on to Colleen; four feet and all claws extended; she refused to get down. She was going home with us. It was a cinch. So far…? The other cats have not welcomed her… yet. Curiosity! Sure! A black cat is hard to photograph. She’s a cutie. I like her. Let’s hope everyone falls in line. So far… so good.


Hug a cat

It’s Friday, two days after inauguration day (Wow, that was so long ago… who?), and the foul stench of trump is beginning to wear off. I’m reflecting. I’m melancholy. It’s so very nice to be able to reach out and hug a cat. No, it’s not as satisfying as hugging my wife. But…

Willow and I have a relationship wherein I don’t hug him and he won’t object. Yes, his paw shoots out into my face when I draw him close. Each cat behaves differently each according to their personalities.  Someone is always at hand to hug. It’s a very good thing. Indeed!


Six

Some days I wander around camera in hand and shoot the cats. After breakfast they settle into familiar spots. The trick is to get them to look at you. The way to go (secret) is to point the camera lens into their eyes. Amazingly, they are looking at you. Voila! Easy! My problem is that the twins are look-alike. So, when I download the images, it’s a mean feat to distinguish which cat is which. ?? Well, I judge from where they are in the picture. Each cat has a favorite perch. Mostly. Otherwise, since I can’t tell, you don’t have a chance. So, I am showing two pair of twins. Care to dispute my claim?


Cat TV

There is dynamic interaction between my cats, the birds, and a family of squirrels. I feed the birds. Hey! Squirrels gotta eat too! So they do – the squirrels are all over the bird feeders. Everyone eats. I favor the birds. The cats enjoy the show. They are participating too. Nutley will go out on command and vainly chase after the squirrels. He returns when I call him back. Me? I photograph. I have to say that the darn Sony RR100 VI has a lens that is as good a telephoto as I would want in such a compact camera. Voila! Instant story!


Problem solving

Ray Ray is a very curious cat. He’s fearless. I saw him at the top of the bookcase. It was about 8 foot up. How did he get there? I waited to see how he’d extract himself. He climbed to the ledge of the window, onto the tall clock, and then down to the sewing machine. Neat trick. Nutley bangs the kitchen cabinet doors open with his paw and sits in the back in the dark. It’s not nearly so picturesque. All I’m sayin’ is that this cat is resourceful and quite the risk taker. … kinda like the guy who feeds him. Proud!? Nah!


Happy Ava-nursery

I’m getting a lot of mileage out of these images. But, I gotta acknowledge certain things – like remember our/my anniversary. Yup, two years, we’ve been together six going on seven (years). Happily married – an oxymoron? Not this time around! Come to think of it (truly), we have five kids and six grand kids between us. So seven cats is a natural follow up to the sequence. “On my way to St. Ives, I saw a man with seven wives…”


Faith

I must have thousands of images of Patch. Of course! Find one. That’s not so easy. I cannot show you how he liked his “treats.” But, I can show you his favorite basket. He liked his comforts – nestling on the down quilt on our bed. Colleen adopted him before we met again. And though he was her cat, he was our cat. We remember him with smiling, in all the little unspoken wonky habits he kept.

The quintessential image? Patch had a look. He had a partially lidded look. He never seemed to look me straight in the eye. There are people I know whom I look in their eyes and there is deeper thought behind their eyes than what they reveal to the world. Patch had that look. You will see what I mean when tomorrow’s post is published; my other cats engage my look so differently.

Symbolism. Lisa once commented that religion and church were for the symbolism of birth, death, and marriage. Without faith, one gives up symbolism that drives much of the ceremonies of life. (We {Lisa} were married by a judge on a house boat.) On the day Patch died, I saw symbolism in the snow geese at hand. It was a stark cold rainy day. The rain was angel tears? Today the sun finally rose, a promising cold crisp winter morning. It is the third day. I want to believe in a higher spirit. It lifts my heart to know someone I loved is at peace. And, I’m hugging Colleen extra tight today.

The raw emotion I am feeling is not usually on display. I prefer a more irreverent bit of wonky humor on the world around me. The rest is private and only comes out rarely. The last time, was when I connected and wooed Colleen after five decades of separation. Indeed, I am holding tight to her, and more so with appreciation that she is my “one and only.”


Fly away, home

Patch was down with a fatal illness. The other cats seemed to understand. They all gathered in solidarity on the bed with him. Empathic? I don’t know. We have three sets of identical twin cats. They are identical enough that face on, I cannot tell who’s who.

It was a stark cold winter morning when Patchie passed away. It was wet rainy – angel tears. This is the basket he loved to sleep in for the greater part of every day. His twin, Willow, said good-bye. Afterward Patch lay in his basket as though he were asleep. And indeed, he was, now, truly at peace and not suffering. A field of snow geese were feeding in the field next to the vet’s office. Rest in Peace, Patch. Fly with the snow geese. You are free. We loved and love you.


Patch

How often do you go in for a teeth cleaning and come away with a diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer? It’s a pretty sobering hit in the head. Patch had been down on his appetite and in our last visit to the vet, they thought he was due for a teeth cleaning. We scheduled but their schedule was full for a few weeks. When they weighed him again before the cleaning Patch had lost more weight. This was not a good sign and more tests were run instead of the cleaning. As someone said, we all have an expiration date. But when you know yours is close at hand…. This has cast a pall over the entire house. We have Patch on steroids and a high calorie diet to provide some support and palliative care. As a physician I have dealt with end of life. It doesn’t matter. It’s always personal. My only hope is to be sure he is comfortable to the end. He’s getting a lot of hugs from us and lots of support from his twin and our other cats.

Three weeks later… Patchie passed away peacefully yesterday morning. He didn’t suffer. I/we tried to make sure he was comfortable to the last. He couldn’t speak to me. But, I think he had the best quality to the end. In the last day he suddenly deteriorated. We/he knew it was time. It was very sad. We will miss him. We will not forget him.


Faster

Better? Colleen’s cousin got a Macbook. She upgraded from her Windows laptop? It’s a big paperweight that looks good. (She’s not using it.) She did not want to give up her mouse. I found Colleen’s Bluetooth mouse. We loaned it out. And she (cousin, name withheld to protect the innocent) wants to use her Window’s external drive to link photos for her scrapbooking. They (cousin and husband) could not get the hang of a formatted ‘fat’ drive that sees jpeg on Windows and Mac simultaneously. Yes, a big fat paperweight. I have offered help. Sometimes it takes time. Meanwhile I have cannibalized the TV as a monitor for my image catalog. I can view more images on a screen. Editing is a little easier. It brings me to the observation that things are not really faster. Transferring files from memory cards to external drives still takes a lot of time. My very first Mac desktop was so slow… you could go have coffee and a refill till it did…. Well, I still wait. It’s just different. I’ve had a laptop as my computer for a long time. This upgrade was necessary/justified because the hardware changed and I could not personally install a bigger hard drive. Solution: new laptop/bigger drive. Yeah, it’s not too bright. And the speed? I still sit and wait. At least it (laptop) looks good sitting there. I could talk about a Lamborghini in my driveway….


Nutley

My cat Nutley is so named because he’s … nuts! He can open the cabinets and thus was snug up behind the corner lazy Susan. Yeah, nuts! Adorable, but nuts. Ray, his brother, was tucked up snoozing beneath a chair. We named him after Colleen’s cousin, so he (the cousin, Ray!) would not mind so much coming to feed all the (seven) cats when we were away. Cute! There’s no use in chasing Nutley. He comes out when he wants. I cannot believe he didn’t break anything. Yeah, yeah, there’s a lot of gluten free underneath.


Delivery

I don’t know who is happier when Amazon delivers. I get the contents I needed. The cats have a new home/play thing. They nest, rest, wrestle and make it their home. Heaven forbid that I should recycle any box before its time. Cute?! The boxes get in the way till I remove them. Not a word is said. The cats are stoic – and then another package arrives.


Breakfast

Colleen made me a BLT for breakfast. Yeah, yeah, don’t laugh. And don’t tell me bacon is bad for you. I know this. And my cats consider themselves 10%ers. That is to say whatever I eat… they are entitled to 10%. It’s an immutable rule. Don’t blink or they will lick your food. Yuck, ugh, ewwww! I fight them for my spot at the table. Don’t be late!