Word and Image

Cat

Wondering

We(in the USA) would often joke about the hospital as “Mecca” or a “Taj Mahal.” It was purely derisive as a term of imperfection in our condition as virtual slave labor while employed as interns and residents. Here’s another non sequitur. I received a model of my hospital in Jeddah – a commemoration of what? It was in a case and the elaborate model was laser cut glass?? I don’t know. The object has disappeared. Maybe it will surface once again. Who knows? Who cares? It was a model of ego demonstrating the opulent architecture of the owner, the son of a wealthy jewelery fortune family, who built this hospital as a tribute to their wealth and ego. Unfortunately, he was imprisoned and tortured during the recent turnover of kings. Mecca? Yes, and, no, on many levels. And, my cats, Lulu and Cassie, were feral cats that I befriended and then had to abandon as I left Jeddah. Sad! Leaving? Not sad at all to leave. But, once upon a time I worked in “Mecca.” I wonder what became of the cats?


Home again

We are officially full – in this house. Carol makes fun how much “stuff” we accumulate. We are gonna need a bigger car – this thought occurred to me more than once during our trip. So, I/we shipped home three big boxes. Fleece and fiber compress. You can’t keep it compressed forever. Like a fart, it expands to fill the room it is released into. And the beer! It rode in the car. I don’t drink. Ha ha. The cats were happy to see us once again. Nutley settled into a basket of yarn. Spice got into a bin, too small, next to the beer. The living room shows a partial series of spinning wheels. How many does one spinner need? Another fleece(s)? Bags and bags covered the table. OMG. Good and rare one and all, we have a collection of fiber you don’t go and find easily, if at all. I suppose I will have to start spinning again… and drinking beer…. for the team.


Family

Thanksgiving is about family. Sure, the eating part plays a big role. But, having family near is important. We have family scattered across the USA from New York to California and many points in between. Scattered would be the word. I have one child who has no permanent address. Hey, cats are family too! The good news is that I don’t have to go far to chase down a picture of them all. Did I tell you we have eight (cats)?


And so…

We are away. Mike and Jen (cousins) watch the cats. Catgate? Peas – the cute, innocent – is fodder (as in, dinner) for Spice. Her sister, Feather is a bystander but, accomplice in crime. Tillie, the (Peas) sister is fine. She entered the house growling from the start and all the other cats think she is crazy. Ray has no skin in the game. But, he is intensely curious. So he has entered the gated compound at will. Unfortunately, he cannot get out. Why? Well, at least the Maines (cats) cannot leave either. Peas is safe. It’s a puzzle. The bottomline? Peas is safe. No cats were harmed in the telling of this tale. The saga continues. Maybe not in your house, but, this is a big deal in ours.


Choices

I think in color. No black and white for me. I started in BxW. Color slide film opened my eyes to a whole new world in photography. BxW conversion is easy in Photoshop/Lightroom. Sure. I just don’t think in shades of gray. I admire those who do and who produce great images in black and white.

Single or gallery? I post multiple images these days because there are too many worthy (?) images and not enough posts. TMI. So, I lose subtlety of fine detail. It’s easy (for me) to see Elle is a great cat pic. But the water droplets or the grasshopper or the bees are harder to discern.

Sometimes I just think I must have closed my eyes and pressed the shutter. Images jump out of Lightroom to grab me. I shot that? Luck or skill, my images come from experience and experimentation. I have practiced “what if” scenarios in order to be in this place. But I readily admit I am not some landscape photographer who will patiently sit day after day until the perfect elements align. I have never, and, I never will… No one ever accused me of being patient. Me? I’m all “go!”


Catgate II

(See: previous, 9/29) I have it! … the solution! Problem solved! Ha ha!! Hardly! But… maybe?!?? This would be, like the fourth or fifth iteration. Each previous try has failed to keep cats from passing through, around, or over the gate. (No tunneling allowed!) The list and ways of escape are too numerous to mention. In this latest version, a new barrier has been placed along the banister, and, slats have been added between those of the the primary gate. The width of a cat’s whiskers is the measure of how wide an opening a cat may pass through. It proved to be misleading, hence, the need to revise the previous construction. Fortunately, I have plenty of wood. I DO NOT have – a lot of patience! Finally! No one has escaped or entered, at-will, in the past 24 hours. (It took the squirrels a few days to…) Go ahead and laugh! The construct does not look half-bad. It works. (So far) And, no cats were harmed in the making of these pictures.


Catgate

A la Watergate, similar but not the same. In this case, I needed to keep cats separated and apart. Long story short, the Maine coon cats are pummeling poor Peas. Maines can suddenly be aggressive. They stalk and pounce poor Peas. It’s ugly! Hence, the gate. They need to be separated to maintain peace and serenity for all (ESPECIALLY COLLEEN!!). There is a height extension at the top of the gate. … because Ray and Nutley could jump the gate and then over either way. They taught Spice and Feather the trick. Neat. Smart cats! Tillie? She is small like her sister Peas. She simply walks through the balusters. Great! And, !@#@$$ drat! I have placed barriers with offsets to the balusters. Now, let’s see. This is a work in progress. I recall a time when I thought I could thwart squirrels on my bird feeders. Oh well, now, we feed the squirrels and birds. Hey squirrels gotta eat too. Maybe Peas will get larger and better at defending herself?


658,644 … and counting

Digital images. 4/16/2003. Canon G3 to 8/10/2021 Nikon Z5. I have a recorded database of nearly 700 thousand pictures/images in digital. It does not include iPhone for several thousand more. I think that this is more or less complete a complete accounting.  About 36,000 digital images a year compared to about 3,600 per year of slide film. Moreover, my digital images have increased in recent years and was paltry early on. So, I am at about 70,000 digital images a year right now. Yeah, it’s a lot. And if you are not a photo buff, it is more than enough to make your head spin. Laugh all you would like. It’s my avocation – hobby or minor occupation. Some call it an obsession. And for those who would know me – a look into the (my) mind. Luckily, the very first digital image was serviceable – David. Of late, the first image on a new memory card is of my ID – so if found, I just might get it (memory card/camera) back. And, today, 700k images later, it’s cats and flowers. Colleen has a rash and my kids are far away. Yes, that’s a pair of chopsticks in Peas’ mouth. Don’t ask.


Travelogue

Why do we travel? To get away from our own everyday routine. See something new and different. And while we are gone we seek out familiar things from home. Dinner in a Chinese restaurant… in Scotland: the food looks familiar; the dinners eat with fork and spoon, or knife; the grocery carries mustard, mayo, and Spam!; a picture to match the post card. Yes, you can go to dinner wearing a genuine Harris tweed vest. Travel is about same and, not. We have not been able to travel in a couple years – Covid. The world will be upside down a bit longer. A couple years back right at this time we were here!? It seems so long ago. So much has changed. Don’t worry, my dear, we will be back.


Weaver cat

It has been more than a year since we experienced the ravages of Covid. Can we remember? Do we? Toilet paper was in short supply. I did a little dance in the grocery aisle when TP was in stock again. We chased appointments in order to get a vaccine.

So much has happened. It’s hard to remember that so recently – it seems so long ago, now – Patch died. Colleen completed a memorial scarf/shawl with his colors – green eyes.

Patch would sit on and among Colleen’s looms. (Yes, that is plural – looms!) As a weaver cat, Patch was taught not to play with the warp and weft – threads. He was large enough to disrupt the weaving process until he was ready to move. We miss him.


oh say can you see

Déjà vu. I try to remember 9/11. Here we are. It’s a round circle. (is there any other kind?) From NYC and WTC to Afghan and back. We got our butts kicked once more. With gusto. History repeats. In the end, we!! gave arms to the Taliban. They will cherish them and “buy” our ammo. Was that the plan? Meanwhile, we donated, no gave away, a trillions dollars (with a “T”)! I guess you cannot make the same mistake twice? Afghan’s chief export is poppies.


Odd day

I was housebound and determined to have an adventure. So? Antiques! Nope. Everything is closed around here on Monday. The (poor pitiful) mangy cat awaited in front of one antique place (closed). A VIP funeral went by with a fancy glass hearst and a long parade of trailing vehicles. So famous… we could not find mention in any internet listing. Travel took us to the towns of Milford and Wyoming. Oh yeah! There’s a giant bee, much larger than the usual. It does not look like a carpenter bee. The other large bee listed is from Indonesia, nope, not that one either. ?? Dunno. My passion flower survived Barb! And Nutley? … just too cute for his own good! Gee, he makes me look like a good photographer.


Water

It is part of my life. We live near it. I have always lived near to water. Even in the Middle East, the Red Sea was moments away from me. I have a water view and the beach is less than a mile from home. Water can be subtle or bold in my images. It always adds interest. Underwater (diving), yes, but I tend to avoid the pouring rain. I’m so lucky, yes, so lucky.


It’s late

But, it’s never too late to learn a new trick. I discovered beefsteak tomatoes. Ha ha! Everyone else knows them. I am late to the party as usual. Colleen bought one. I just about let it go bad on the counter. Then, we got mozzarella. I added olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Voila! Instant revelation! I was stunned. I don’t think I ever ate a beefsteak tomato before? Or if I did, it was not a true tomato?

An aside? I shoot macro images. Sometimes it feels as though I cannot see the details the lens captures until I start editing. The details! Water droplets? Subtle and not noticeable until I enlarge the image. Yes, I feel like some images were shot with my eyes closed.

Focus? Dead on accurate – the cat (Peas) – or, it’s not a shot. You aspire to a different standard.

And that beefsteak? A simple recipe. Good lighting. Luscious color. Mmmmm….


Hopeless

It seems a lost cause to try to limit myself to one picture and one story per day. Some days have too many – stories and pics. Sorry. How about an upside down dragonfly? ?? Really?! Yup! It flopped to the deck right in front of me with a thud. Truly! It was an act I did not realize until I did the edit. Later, it flipped and flew away. Relief!

The building – it was across the street from the restaurant – beer flight – inside on the wall was a black and white photo ala this view – for $700. Nope! I’m not kidding. Sorry, I would not pay that kind of money for that kind of shot. I have too many of my own in the discard pile. Really! Balls; ya gotta have ‘em to take that shot and price it like that.

Flight time? You can order a “flight.” This allows you to taste five beers as a sampler. Fun! Yes! Colleen loves dark beer. To me they all taste the same and are bitter. She can appreciate the nuance. I appreciate that she loves the experience. I’m still struggling to appreciate the BxW building on the wall next to me.

Still life – note the flattened peaches. I did it subtly so as not to squish out the juices. That is a large tomato for scale? – or small peaches. Watermelon in the background – I am in a watermelon eating stage right now.

The cat and sunset are throw-ins. It’s the end of the day. I keep a camera at hand all over the house. Ha ha! I have enough cameras to do this. And, sometimes you get the shot because things were there at hand and jumped onto the memory card – all by themselves. Gee, I’m lucky sometimes.


Focus

The camera does what it will. The difference between great and ho-hum is making the camera do your bidding. Unfortunately for me, it doesn’t work out as I’d like, most of the time. Good? Bad? It’s mixed. The detail in the dragonfly eye is stunning, especially enlarged and up-close. You can see “hairs” in the flowers. But, though there be motion and blur and reflections, other images still work. For my cats, I find that sharp focus on the eyes is key. Maybe it’s not for you, but, I’m ok with the surprises I find when editing. It’s fun. I’m not shooting for money. Fun would be work. Nope. Strictly amateur, I get a free reign to shoot for the pleasure of good images amongst the lot.


Buddha

There’s a shop we visit where the owners have been retiring for about five plus years. Everything is on sale 50% off. They wanna retire. Correct prices? How about 2X mark-up at ½ off? No? Well, whatever you buy is worth whatever you are willing to pay. There is a sense of scale to what things cost. Right? They specialize in Far East art, like Buddhas. Lee asked and was told depending on the culture Buddha has a different look. Some cultures believe Buddha is slim and in others, he is fat. I never paid much mind. I have learned something new once again. My cat? It could be Ray or it could be Nutley? Either way, they are well on the way to enlightenment. Does it matter which cat posed for me? Ummmm….


Turning the page

At this point I have a goal: to teach Colleen to dive. It probably won’t happen. There are too many things going on in our lives. Once upon a time I taught Dave to dive. Jules, Dave, and I had a magical New Year’s in Saudi, where we dove and the kids did their first night dive. First time: it was a thrilling introduction and a memory we uniquely collectively share forever. For a time, I dove every weekend. I still have my dive gear and the camera housing. Likely, I will not use it again. Sad. But, I saw and recorded some amazing things – a hermit crab laying eggs? That’s not something you see – about as rare as hen’s teeth. Nowadays, in retirement, I’m shooting flowers, pets, and people. I still subscribe to a Dive magazine online – free! The photographs are stunning. It reminds me that I will probably not dive every weekend and that my photo underwater skill is static in the face of so many new developments. Wistful? No: one door opens as another closes. Change is inevitable and things never remain the same. I love my life; it rhymes with loving my wife… and cats.

Jen came up with the term ‘Bee sting’ look. Well, she taught the term to me. Purse your lips. Ok! Look. Try it! Bruce does not play along. Constipated? The generations are changing. The gen above us is gone as we will soon be. This summer’s hope is to imbue our kids with the desire to return.


Eyes

Portrait photography – the first rule – focus on the eyes. From the start, when I did film photography, it was always focus (manually) on the eyes. Nothing else is as important. Cats feel threatened when you point a big lens at them. It’s like a big eye. The cat does not like it. Mine, they are resigned. I have pointed so often that the lens is familiar. It’s still not easy. The skill is in putting the lens in front of their eye so it looks as though they are looking at you. Ha! And, salt on the tail, will catch a bird! It ain’t easy. But then again, if it were, all my pictures would be perfect. Right?


Happy

Happy… birthday. Happy!? I hope I have made you as happy as you have made me so. In a simple collage we have the essence of it all: cat, food, travel, spinning, beach… together. Good time?! Yup! Favorite cat? We all have a special one. Ha! Not really. If a picture is worth a thousand words… I hope you will know how my feelings are in this collage. Happy?…. as the cow jumped over the moon. Happy? … my wish to you.

Flag? Symbolism? Meaning? Interpretation? Philosophical? Deep? Poetic? … Nah! Spontaneous. It was eye catching as I edited… gestalt. Ah! And flowers….


Follow me

Depending on punctuation this can be a command or interrogative. To those who follow this blog, it doesn’t matter. You are already included in being notified about my posts. If someone does a basic search on WordPress, I am not immediately noticeable. ?? I don’t list myself in category or tag under “photography.” I did a casual search today and realized the omission. Now, begins the experiment to find out if this blog is noticed more. The rest – tags and category – may not have much relevance beyond letting me search for older posts. Let us see.?!


Writer’s block

I could hardly be accused of being cramped. I keep saying there are too many images  and not enough time. The cameras give me technically sound shots. I used to shoot 36 images (film) per day. Now, it can easily be 700 images (digital) in a single outing. Philosophically, less is more?! One image? Sure. But, it’s so much more illustrative (fun!) to share the backstory (ha!) on what’s doing.

Look to home when you need inspiration? My cat Feather has replaced Peas in the basket in order to occupy space and ambush Peas (in her former favorite spot). After Barb cut down my passion fruit vine, the new one and its flower is a surprise brilliant red. Sometimes things happen for a reason (photo op). Meanwhile, you will see Chestertown illustrated. It was a charming town, an over the top excellent find by Colleen, who loves history, shopping, eating, art, and above all, all things “charming.” We could not have had a better day with our clothes on. (Shhh, she wasn’t sure about the dress length; she wore shorts beneath.)


Having fun…?!

I had a dream. Anne, a girl, an old friend, one from the third grade, was in it. I hugged her. I have been wondering about Anne since the eighth grade, when I last saw her. Oh, the guilt, to hug an old girl, friend. I’m married. Happily, again, now! Carol laughed. Ginny – isn’t this the reason you go to confession? Impure thoughts? Colleen, shrugged. She knows I’m hers. (she got my signature, what there is of it, on the “certificate.”)

Trapped? (in the basket, see Willow, the cat) Nah! Nope!

Cats? I should learn, take a lesson, be more like them…

Flowers? Every day, I bring … I think that I am so lucky to be in this place at this time…. Ginny laughs at my openness. There is truth – Colleen and I are having fun. It’s not hard to see at all.


Ticks and bees

I dreamt about posting/blogging. Yeah, weird. I never did that before. The old question arises. Am I shooting for the blog? Or, are my shots “worthy” photos? Technically correct, many of my images are good. But, worthy? Goofy! Goofy? My garden – I discovered a tick (looking at the flower picture) after the shoot. Ha! I thought it was a spider. Wrong! And, long gone, there is no finding that tick. Now, I have to worry about my cats. Bee? Almost, but no cigar. The focus missed by just that much. Alas. Focus!? Ah, an antique store with old cameras. Wonderful, but, they are film. Collector’s item? No, more like they are dust collectors. Covid is pretty much done. There are no rules any longer. We are half masked, or, not. Brain coral celosia? Close, but not quite, I am still working on focus and lighting. Poor Peas, the calico kitten, has her own problems. She’s cute. The older Maine coon cats are jealous? They keep jumping her! I mean pouncing, hissing, loud, mean, ambush type altercations. So, ticks, are a problem but not foremost among what I think about.