Word and Image

Cat

Different

What catches my eye? Something I have not seen. There’s plenty. … I have not seen. Key: Bees? They look like bees – humping. Bumble bee – flying into the foxglove. All the way in! Orange flower – it’s in my garden. The label (wazzit it called?) is long gone. Willow – yawning in the reflection. Hey! It was all in the same day. Lucky? Not really. I just have a camera at hand all the time. Some days you make your own luck.


How good?

I read that you should enter photo contests. There’s a long explanation/argument that it will improve your technique. Ok. I have not entered any contests. I read. And I experiment. For me it is mileage. The pleasure is mine. I am not constrained. I am free to shoot as I please. Good? Bad? The other good is about whether your work measures up. Does it matter? Yes, if you are entering contests. Win or lose means good or bad? If you lose, you did not measure up? Ha ha. Drive yourself crazy. For me it’s still mileage. I’m not winning awards but the quality keeps me happy. I do better than snapshots and less than fine art. And there is no one to tell me what art looks like. I’m / we’re having fun. Eh? (One more parenthetical thought: When I learned to ski, the instructor spent the entire lesson “hitting” on the girls. No more lessons. Mileage. I just skied and got better and better. I never won a race. But, then, that was never the point, was it?)


Black whisker

I noticed a while ago that Tillie has jet black whiskers. Why not? She’s a black cat. But, the light reflects from the whiskers and they appear white most times. I have dutifully tried to capture a picture showing the black whisker. It appears I may have been successful. For comparison, Willow is pure white with white whiskers. Do you care? The challenge was to take a photo true to life of those black whiskers. Convinced? I may yet get a better shot. It’s a work in progress.

Depending on how the light reflects, it could be black or light. It is black. The trick is in capturing the image.


Rotation

I have cameras. They are smaller than spinning wheels. And, they (cameras) are smaller than looms and great wheels. This does not mean that I don’t have a lot (of cameras). It just means they are more discrete. I have a series (of cameras) that I rotate in use. Each has its own characteristics, and therefore, its use in certain situations. It would be boring to wax poetic over each (camera’s) special or general use. Suffice to say that Colleen’s picture illustrates one “signature” spinning wheel, one loom, and two great wheels, all of which take up (all) the available space in our (her) living room. Three cameras take up a portion of one table that does not have fiber upon it. Which is to say, that the missing camera (I took this photo with it) is my new spiffy Nikon Z5. Yes, one must always keep up with tech. It is the replacement to my trusty Nikon D610, that I purchased when Colleen and I first met. I will not be replacing Colleen anytime soon. I say this upon pain of death. Ha ha. (KIDDING!).

This new camera does take great shots. I’ve been waiting to get the red wing blackbird with its red chevron – only to find, it is orange – and shot with my Sony RX100 VI. The swallow? A crow decimated their nest last spring. I hope they have returned to nest once more. Mix and match, each instrument for its purpose. When you you need a hammer, a screw driver might do if nothing else is at hand. Macro? The right lens is definitely a plus – helpful! But you can do it with or without. I love to learn new tricks. A new camera? A new lens? Is it an excuse? Or, is it inspiration to explore new possibilities? Whatever! I rotate and I use whatever is at hand that will achieve what I imagine. Sometimes it works. Do we need all those spinning wheels? Ha ha. I would not presume to answer that question. But I do know, it’s a whole lot of fun to have the tools you need at hand. … now to talk Colleen into needing a Tesla.


Not my first time

We volunteered – rather I was Shanghaied – to help take apart and reassemble a computerized loom. Be careful what you agree to do. Be very careful!! There are a lot of moving parts. A lot! I took along blue tape and we numbered each section with matching numbers as they came apart. (The tape faced the same way and the numbers matched. Brilliant!) To be sure, the reassembly was hell. But my numbers matched despite disagreement on how it should be. READ: The numbered blue tape is immutably located! I prevailed and the job was done in mere hours. It did not rattle and there are only a couple extra bolts lying around. It could’a been worse. Yes, let me say once more, it could’a been worse. A lot! Computerized loom? I don’t know. They cost upwards the price of a small car. Me? I’ll take the car.


Mealtime

I had a baguette. So, sandwich! – Chutney, whole grain mustard, garden lettuce, ham, swiss – and a hearty appetite. To drink – lemonade and root beer. Yes, it’s a weird combo, but…  And my cat? – Spice – had her own opinion about my repast. Open wide.


Opps…oops

Digital cameras allow you to make a mistake that keeps on giving. Since August 3 of last year, for nearly eight months, I have had an erroneous setting for the ISO. Ordinarily, it is set to “Auto.” Somehow it was set to ISO 800. So, a lot of pics were taken with the wrong setting. The other parameters adjusted “automatically” and I never noticed the error till now. I only picked up my mistake because the camera used a very long shutter speed one day. Aha! Corrected! Fixed! All is right again. It only took eight months to notice. Gee!! The pizza? As long as we are talking mistakes, this shot was made after I fixed the ISO. The pizza is the error. We have a pizza chain. The pizza is nearly inedible. I kid you not. I was desperate for a “slice,” any slice. I actually went home and ate something more. To protect the name of the guilty I won’t mention the name Grotto.


Home safe

The bird feeders were moved to the front balcony to get them away from the squirrels. It took a week, then, the squirrels found them and climbed to the balcony. Great! Just great! Willow got into the habit of climbing to the rail. Actually, he jumps up to the rail. One bright sunny day in the spring – this spring – everyone (cats) was sunning on the balcony. After the cats were in we did the routine ‘cat count.’ No Willow. I did another visual sweep of the balcony. No Willow. On the back deck through the locked door, sat Willow, peering in, calm as punch. Apparently, Willow had jumped off the front balcony and come around to the back steps, leaped the gate, and returned home. The concept of front and back of the house was familiar to Willow. He’d only yesterday gone over the gate (leaped) to explore the wide world. This information proved key to his return. Smart cat. Colleen nearly had a heart attack. And, I don’t know how we can let Willow out to sun on the deck again.


One Fine Day

Along comes that rare fine spring day. The deck just planted, we took the time to enjoy. It’s not in my DNA to sit, relax, and to not being doing something. Naturally, a photo op presented itself. A moment to herself, hair down, relaxing in the sun, Colleen was spinning outdoors. Idyllic. Bliss. And, of course, I let the cats out on the deck. Iris is bad for cats – poisonous. And, Willow went over the fence to explore the wide world. Leave it to me, I was busy chasing cats. At least someone was having a blissful time.  


Bake

We have binge watched the Great British Baking Show. It’s sad to see amateur bakers criticized for mistakes they make under the pressure of an audience and the judges. But, it did teach me some things about improvising. We recently had outdated whipped cream that had been frozen. Nope, it’s butter. Toss it. And then, I was making meringue cookies. The egg whites did not whip up. What to do? Quick, add some flour and cocoa powder – sponge, jelly roll cake. Fresh whipped cream, ha ha. And there was enough cream for the Atlantic pie – a lemon curd, (saltine) cracker crust pie. A happy ending! So, I have advanced my baking skill by becoming less intimidated that everything must be precise and measured in baking. There are limits to be tested. How about that? A jelly roll cake!


Namesake

Peas – please may I have another. Ha ha! At least she gave me the perfect pose and made me smile. My cats do not work on command. I would be a dismal failure as a lion tamer. It’s good that all I got is a kitten to contend with. And yes, she always gets another.


Cat eyes

Arresting! A proper photo exposure can stop you in your tracks. Black cats require more exposure adjustment. I suppose I will be using more flash than less with Tillie. I continue to learn and improve. As any other work in progress, you learn, and then build upon what you know. Better? yes, than ever. I hope Tillie makes it through probation. She remains a crazy cat. Right side up, or, upside down, at least, I can say I am a better photographer.


Tolerant

My cats are very tolerant. (If) There are no other subjects at hand. Cat portraiture, it is. Spring is here. Soon, I will plant the flowers. And then, we can begin flower pictures again. Meanwhile, I do not have a grandchild in sight. So, cats it is. Tolerance is a plus. And yes, it is still hard to photograph a black cat. I got the eyes. There is not much detail in the black fur. The sister has dark patches. You do see detail in the whiskers. None of the grandkids have whiskers. I continue to work the eyes. Focus on the eyes and you have a picture. Have a camera at hand or you miss those fleeting moments.


Weaver kitty

There is a term Colleen uses: “Weaver kitty.” It refers to the training of a cat to refrain from tearing her spinning and weaving to pieces. The natural inclination of a cat or kitten, is to play with the yarn. The moving ends are too tempting. A cat’s gotta learn. When they do (learn), everyone’s happy. So far so good….


Work in progress

Black cat?! It ain’t easy to get a pic. I got the eyes! Flash, it helps. I got the eyes; the fur? Now, to get the whole cat. It is, at best, a challenge. I suppose it’s good to show some failures. How else do you learn and improve? A lot of what I learn is by seeing a good pic and then copying the technique. It’s a lot like cooking. Taste it; like it; try to recreate it; make it your own. Much of what we do is to build on the knowledge of those who came before us. I’m ok with that.


Private

If you follow my blog, or if you have come across this posting randomly – I am a private person. It will not be obvious. It is obvious. I vacillate. I rarely showed the world my “self.” There was a semester in freshman English, I simply poured out my “feelings” in my composition. My instructor (Miss Hesney) pointed it out; whereupon, I retreated never to write like that again till… I reconnected with Colleen. Since then, Colleen has known my heart as no other. I was in Saudi; she in West Virginia; we wrote; I wooed: writing was my seduction. It is/was private. And, the rest of the world sees what I reveal in the humor that plays around in my posts. There are clear glimpses of the depth of my “feelings” in more recent posts. It peeks out in word and picture. I met Colleen again in 2014. But it was not until 2019, that I introduced her as a character in this blog. Why? I was afraid it might screw up my divorce. My first wife does not (probably, never has) read my blog. And, no doubt I did love Lisa, fiercely at times. (Sorry, Colleen.) … I have plenty of thought and many regrets and there is much I would do differently. It has also been a good life with much to be thankful. If I had but known Coleen would be the light of my life, events could have unfolded so much simpler with less pain to all. Or, is it fate, that to appreciate love, I suffered a life long search for happiness. The guilt I feel is for those I have hurt along the way. My happiness is purely selfish in that I found Colleen and there is a happy ending for me/us. (Yes, I am adept. My English skill is good. My paragraphs run on because they are one thought. I dislike that paragraphs in these post are separated by large spaces. So I run on. Yes, guilty – run on thoughts, run on paragraphs…


Fitted

Peas has come into the house and fit right in. Her sister Tillie has had all sorts of problems. Am I complaining? Lamenting? Colleen got this shot as I snoozed. Peas did the exact right thing to ensure she has a place at the table. She (this picture) is exactly the reason why we needed another cat.

“And in the end, the love you get is equal to the love you give.” Paul McCartney – “The End”


Trouble in paradise

Tillie is back on double double secret probation. She had a “hissy” and scratched me up good. Meanwhile, Peas is a cow eating my grass. Colleen thinks grass is good for cats. And she thinks Tillie is a “fraidy cat.” Maybe, (my wife is always right), Tillie got spooked when I started to carry her? She’s docile and timid this morning. I’m still scratching (pun) my head to figure, do I have a psycho cat? Aha! I might change her name to “PC.” Alas, that would be to close to “Peas.” The wound? It was superficial and looks worse than it feels.

Note: I post in advance. So, to make this – not – a cliffhanger, Tillie has recovered. My wounds are healing. Tillie has a sweet disposition unless you get her riled. My bad. We are communicating. I thought I spoke cat. I don’t. My skin is healing. My relationship with Tillie is mending. It’s all good… so far. And yes, that’s rain on the window.

Note note: Current – the scar is permanent on my wrist – a reminder. The sisters – Maine coon cats, female, and large – have decided to pick on and attack Peas, randomly, consistently, and with malice. Why can’t we all get along? … because I cannot help but kick the can.


Together

Would you believe it? When Peas arrived she was welcomed by Tillie in the most hideous manner of hisses and growls. We think we have figured out that Tillie is afraid and insecure. Typical me; dense; Colleen is so much more empathic. It has been days… but for the first time – progress! Today the other cats got to meet the new little ones we now call “the Kids.” Tillie tore up the stairs screeching bloody murder when she encountered a spinning wheel and an old typewriter. Colleen is shaking/scratching her head over this one. Me? I’m glad anyone is talking to me. I started this. So far, no one is mad at me.


Black

I said a black cat is hard to photograph. I have few good pics of my black dog, Reggie. Maybe, I wasn’t very good. Interestingly, if you are too good, you can see the dust in Tillie’s hair. Or, dandruff, whatever! But I get it. Eyes, it’s all in the eyes. You get the eyes and the picture pops. Black, against a white background, helps in this instance. This time around I think I am up for a challenge.


Out for a stroll

We let the new kittens out of the bathroom for a stroll in the big house. They found our bed – perhaps our smell – and made themselves comfortable. The lighting is good. I need a reflection in their eyes and the big window gives great indirect light. I bet you don’t care. Peas is not a pretty cat. At least that’s my opinion. Colleen has seen many more cats and I am overruled. My first naming was Butt – as in butt ugly. Don’t laugh; it’s part of the reason I ignored her in the pet store. But Peas has the sweetest personality. She is the quintessential embodiment that beauty is skin (fur) deep. When I first picked her up, it was about a second later, she melted my heart.


Belonging

I belong to Feather. It started in the pet store when her paw snaked out and grabbed me as we walked past. She was going home with me and was simply being emphatic about it. Since then, she hangs out with me wherever I am in the house. She follows me to be sure of where I am. She will come and snuggle up on me when I nap. Clearly, I belong to her. I am her human. It’s important to belong. I belong to her. Ha ha. Confused? That is Colleen hugging Feather’s twin, Spice.


I know why…

Willow never looks at me. The “twins” will/do. But, Willow, he’s a different cat. He never looks at me. We communicate. He gets what he wants. I know what he wants. We just never quite make eye contact. It’s subtle enough to have eluded me for so long. I realize now. Knowing is helpful. It’s like hugging without kissing. There is just something different. And, it’s different, (looking elsewhere). If you don’t know what I mean, then you don’t know. But, I get it, now.


Another six

Yeah, yeah, seven pictures. But the last picture (Nutley) illustrates emotion. Colleen swears the cats can “express.” Nutley just got “wopped” by Spice. He has the look of “what?” He (Nutley) is bewildered and subservient to her (Spice’s) aggression. Can you see that? Six cats. I roam the house and shoot the cats. Ha! It’s not “hunting.” But periodically the cats settle into their morning routine. At that point I can get a shot. Cute!