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.
How much is enough? I never know. It’s not a competition. Photo op? How many shots do you take? This was my second time seeing Quinn. I won’t see Noa or Quinn for a while. They live far away. I shot throughout the day – about 7 hours. Colleen shot. Jules shot. Jeff shot with my camera. We got 2000 images. Do you think there was a good one? Sure! From a certain perspective the day was a success. A great success?! I think the moments will be more precious as time passes.
Time flies. Patience was never my forte. Today’s news reported reviving dead pig cells – after death! My my! One last visit before every one departs for home. We made a long road trip, a day trip, to see the grands. Cute! It is bittersweet. We don’t see them often and will not see them for a while now. They grow up so fast! It’s already autumn and every one has returned to their school routines. Will it ever be routine? Covid is among us still. Plot and plan, who flies/drives next? Parenting is so different nowadays. Grandparenting? It’s hard work, just go with it.
Photography? In the old days I might have been content to take a couple pictures of the day – slides – and a group picture at some point. Film cost! So, at most a roll (of 36) or two. Four would have been extravagant. Do the math. I did nearly 2000 shots. Digital is free. Memory cards are cheap. Go for it. It was a memorable day. Here were representative shots of start and finish.
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.
The family has been gathering for a very long time in this place at this time. Call it reunion. It happens annually. There are fulltime residents/relatives close-by in disparate branches of the family to make massive gatherings of 40 or more. Is it hello? Or good-bye? The picture could go either way. Too soon! Younger. Older. The groups change. It’s all bittersweet. Hugs and kisses. Wave!
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.
Who thought of this? I was along for the photo-op – the only guy at the party. High tea! – the way it oughta be. Hats! Dress-up. Tea. Tea sandwiches and little desserts. There was even a tiered arrangement stacked with goodies to eat. I wonder whether the guest of honor will remember this high tea in her honor? A good time was had by all.
Group shots. Same ole. Same pose. Create? Creative. Do something different? I tried jump. It’s too crowded. Raise your hands. That can be done. Not too good (results). Raise one hand. It works. It’s different. Been there done that. Point?! Hmmm…. Funny, it was hard to get the group to point simultaneously. Really?! Eventually, they did it. I may be on to something here. Group shots.!? Fun. It is documentation of a gathering. Family, they were all here in this time and this place. Priceless.
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!
At the end of the day photography is about creating anchors for your memory. Landscape and wildlife shots are ooo and ah. But the real keepers are the photos of family and friends to commemorate a gathering that can be recalled in some future years. How quickly does memory fade and how poignant to see loved ones. Some folks are camera shy and reluctant. It cuts both ways with few appreciating the value and later realizing that the legacy is so sweet. I try to get groups whenever I can. Some are larger than others. All folks seem to appreciate the effort and gesture. Herding cats is akin and often the pics are not ideal for everyone especially if your eyes were closed. But it is the record. After seeing so many poor grainy black and white groupings from the past, mine are apropos to the times and the technology available today. With a remote control I am even in many of the shots.
Too numerous to count…. Smiles are everywhere as the family has its annual gathering. The players change, come and go, arrive and depart. The smiles linger. You can’t but help smiling yourself. It’s always hectic. There are personalities, large and small. The smiles tell you all. …it’s a good time. Indeed! Rory was hugging me tight all the while saying, “Mine!” That melted my heart! Of course!!
Madness! I have always said that computers are very good at keeping lists. Anything! Keep track, a computer keeps lists. Photographs or digital images, a computer can organize and keep the list. GIGO – garbage in, garbage out. Of course… you have to keep an organized and logical list… Digital alone numbers hundreds of thousands of images. I have two catalogs – sort of – one before 2016 and another after. Don’t ask. It’s chaos. I just checked. Things before 2016 are in the 2016 and vice versa. Confused!? Yes, it gets very confusing in a hurry. I got a spreadsheet data base and redundantly copied backup files/images. In other words, you are organized, till you’re not.
Did you lose interest? Anxious? Do you keep track of your images? It’s important in the event you lose your pictures. Anxious now?
This was 2019, the pandemic was right around the corner. Xmas. Groups!? I use my tripod and gather groups together. Somehow everyone seems cooperative. Pictures were taken. Do I remember? This was a random spin through the catalog and we were in a lot of homes gathered together with family and friends.
Logic? Logical? Just when you think you have a viable system, a good list… you discover chaos. I have a method to my madness. Anyone following me will have chaos. All the information is stored. Nothing has been lost. I can still make a coherent list. Maybe. Ha ha. Christmas in June, oh my!
Photography? No, I think I was more photojournalist. I documented events – birthdays, holidays, food, family. Photography came later. I was parsimonious – cheap! So, I shot more than most people and way less than I do since digital is “free.” Boy, oh boy, was I bad (photographer) way back then. Hey, I knew how to focus and take a picture. Fine art, it wasn’t! Food photography? I shot dishes we prepared for big family dinners. The turkey was not styled for a good photo. It tasted far better? (It looks overdone.) And the holidays were a documentation of the litany of presents bought, given, and received. Funny, I still do that. I did it this past Xmas. It’s a record. Someone might find it nostalgic in a few decades from now. But photography? I do both. Now. History or art? I don’t try to overthink it. I am happy to say there are plenty of pictures. I do not look back too often. Like time, I am always in forward mode. (Shhh… Lisa took the pics of me.)
It was an interesting birthday on many levels. My side of the family is far and wide. Colleen’s family has taken me under their wing. Word got out and the list of folks coming to dinner grew and grew. I got cards, gifts, and a slice of cake too large for me to eat alone. And, family shot me from all directions. And the pics were sent to my phone before the cake was eaten! It’s a first for me. The world has changed. It’s good right? Shhhhh… they still believe me when I say I am fast enough to press the camera shutter, and, be in the picture too!
Colleen, I’m feeling blue. Ethereal, but a moment, delicate, fragile, gossamer, tenuous – life. We are here for a moment in time. My photographs depict some of those moments passed which will never be here again. Suddenly, things change. You realize how utterly delicately we interact. Loss is part, parting inevitable. I have been lucky to have experienced loss in small quantity. I am no stranger to love and loss. But, I have been largely spared. Hug your loved ones tight. Love them, tightly.
At a certain point folks don’t want a big deal made over their birthday. It is a reminder of getting old. Ginny? Well, to change the subject quickly, she kind of looks thinner. No more talk of age. Then again, I would be remise to forget her birthday. Right? Just to be certain, I composed this post way in advance. Glue? Ginny is the glue that holds this group together.
In my past life, things were different in terms of holiday groupings. I have family. I have a different family now. I suppose there will be a family legacy passed on to others with good wishes and love. Groupings change. Nothing is absolutely known about the future in the present. Looking back retrospectively there is bittersweet memory. I miss family who are no longer with us. I am grateful for the time we were together. I am happy for the future in which I am living. Change is part of us. My secretary used to say that I would always say, “Something always happens.” Aptly, nothing stays the same. With lemons, be prepared to make lemonade. Bittersweet is the operative word here.
We did it! We did! We managed to have Christmas in five locations! We are the seniors. They are supposed to come to us? Ha! We were in fours states. I believe we achieved a state of grace. (How about, altered state?) It was work. It was fun. Our parents were bystanders. We are not! Bring it on! We did.
We have an extended family. We managed to catch up with multiple family groupings this holiday. It’s been nutty. Covid and whatnot has conspired to make it hard. In a mere moment plans changed. I was so punchy I did not know where or to whom half the presents were destined. At every stop I was inaccurate. I had packed for groups that broke up and met as different parts in different places. Confused? You bet! We were sleeping in one spot and cooking in another. At least I got a haircut and changed shirts. There were a lot of moving parts. Fun? We all had a good time. We must have had fun for me to still be writing about it a month later. All that I can attest, looking back, it was easier to herd cats!!
Epilogue: Omicron is among us. We did not escape unscathed. Members of the extended family pictured herein caught it and were tested positive. So far, all are fine. Those shots really work. Or, we are just plain lucky. My (neurosurgery) department motto was always, “Better to be lucky, than good.”
PPS: All is well. We were, indeed, lucky!
In sum, I found out Bruce is in WPP. If he has a sense of humor, I’ve never seen it. Look at his attempt at a “bee sting” kiss. Polar opposites, we won’t be friends anytime soon. I did not get the ‘serious’ gene. Humor is all around us. It was another summer reunion. People came and went for about three weeks. If you own a beach house, you will never lack for relatives. We had quite a group go through and sleep in all our beds. It was a very nice mishmash of relatives. All were vaccinated. The lost summer of Covid was over. Normal? Hardly. But, it was sure nice to see folks again.
…feel like you been behind bars? Covid’s done?! Summer convention: Colleen’s family has been coming to the beach forever. Decades and decades. I am new to the mix. Fun?! There is a strange dynamic. The older generation is gone now. This is Colleen’s family – her siblings and her daughter and grand kids – mixed in with her favorite cousin. There are always the missing persons, who could not be present. And, there are complex group dynamics in play. If you look closely at the ‘bee sting’ shot you can see who’s constipated – Bruce. (From here, the text was heavily edited to protect the innocent.) Ha? Eh? Me? Don’t burn your bridges – nuke ’em.
Neurosurgeons are collectively super-conservative and stuffy. At our national convention a well known and well regarded colleague got up from the head table at the annual banquet. He pronounced the group to be staid and boring. And, then he proceeded to hang a spoon from his nose. (Bruce was president of his state medical society?) I have taken this to heart. Don’t ever think yourself too important. Stay humble and keep a sense of humor about you. Get a grip! Laugh, live, love. We are all here for a short time.
Correct etiquette is to say nothing. No one’s precious feelings will be hurt – to which I say, speak. I certainly have and there are those who wish I had not. Stories spin, the truth dies with you. It was never in my nature be quiet and proper. I never embraced the “big lie.” At least my point of view is not still a mystery.
Welcome! Summer! Family reunion. Group pictures. I’m shy. I do not like to herd a crowd around. Herding cats is hard enough. Everyone is good natured. The promise? Posted online, the memories are priceless. I have never been serious. Did you notice? So, after the formal group shot – someone always has their eyes closed – I ask for something more. Raise your hands, do a bee sting look, whatever, it’s pretty funny. Now, we’re having fun! Otherwise, it’s boring group shots. I will admit that every once in a while, I get a 5 star smiling pic.
How often do you shoot a group and someone has their eyes closed? I shoot a lot of pics in hope that everyone looks good. Someone (me) is always wanting. How did/was I get goaded into doing a moon shot? And then, I asked everyone to just raise their hands. Eyes closed, I just clicked the shutter. Neat! I’ll try this again. Too much staid! Not enough fun! I guess no one else will volunteer to “moon” in this crowd.
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.
If you have more than one cat… well, it’s feeding time. The cats have trained me. They try all manner of coaxing to get me to come to the kitchen. Mostly, they know when it’s time to eat. As soon as I get to the kitchen they gather and jockey for position as though I might ever forget one. Heaven forbid! The can is not open yet but once open, Willow licks the sauce off the lid. The twins eat in the bedroom lest they cruise everyone else’s dish. All the cats have their spot to eat. Nutley is always done first and opens the bedroom door putting his paw beneath the door and prying it open. He then nudges the nearest cat out of the way to finish up their dish. I must have been late this morning. They were all over the closed can. Feed me!!