Of course he’s been on my mind lately, looking through the photos from my first two rolls of film on Sunday, the anniversary of his loss last month and my perceptions at the change of this season, and this time of the year, but I also know that studying that contrast of bright eyes set in ebony fur made me forever attracted to black cats beginning with him.
Between his reign and now people remarked about the ginger cats, the tortoiseshell cats, the long-haired cats in my feline family. I came to love them all so deeply that my heart will always flutter at seeing any cat who looks like any of them in color and pattern. The universe repeatedly brought black cats into my life in the past 15 years so purrhaps I needed an extra big dose of them, or for some reason they needed me.
One of my favorite, and rare, photos of me with black cats…just like any other day here, but today everyone can share the celebration of black cats on National Black Cat Day! If I were you, I’d surround myself with them! I already did, and I can tell you it’s magic.
The photo above is actually from 2015, from a series of photos that Dr. Elgersma was kind enough to take of me using my camera. I am so grateful to have them and the memories they contain. The little fluffy-tailed kitty on my lap is Simon, a 2015 foster who was adopted by my niece along with his brother Theo. Of course Mimi is there with her red collar, and her four kittens are there too! It’s hard to believe this was eight years ago because it seems like yesterday.
A video from January
I made this video last January when I was getting ready to watch a webinar about making your cat happy. So I asked the assembled housepanthers if they thought I was making them happy right now. Then I asked what I could do to make them happier.
I don’t think I got very good marks from their responses. But I couldn’t love them any more than I did then, or now.
I will always miss the enormous joy of seeing the family of five all together, and any others who chose to join them.
Need some black cat stuff?
Mimi wants to remind you that you can celebrate National Black Cat Day by purchasing something that features Mimi herself! Or at least features other black cats, to show how much you love black cats! She thinks that any feline garden flag we make that features her is a good choice.
It turned out that I ended up with 8 garden flag designs featuring black cats, several of Mimi, and there’s Lucy, and others of our housepanther family too. All of them, of course, are based on real life, rescued, black cats. All feature my feline artwork inspired by them, and are handmade by me under their careful scrutinizing supurrvision.
You can them on my website in my Handmade Gallery for Garden Flags.
And scroll down to see plenty more black cat photos through the years!
From around this date in past years
Three Little Kitties Ready for a Nap, 2020
Finding the cats napping on the bed is always fun now matter how they’re arranged. But when they do things like line up in nearly identical positions I just want to do everything at once—talk to them, pet them, photograph them from every angle. I’m sure they know how they distract me and do it intentionally.
I’ll be catching up with groups of photos from Instagram…
So how much do you think I’m really getting done here when five cats want to walk on my lap, walk on my keyboard, sleep on my desk or cuddle with each other? All in the space of about 2 square feet on my desk.
Well this has never happened before, Elle was here the Saturday before my open house helping me get ready for my it, in the process both Hamlet and Sienna willingly came out of hiding, approached the stranger and she petted each of them.
Hamlet ran into the room and acted uncertain as always, then hopped up on the cabinet, walked over to her and looked her right in the eye and wanted to be petted, like he did it all the time. So she did! And he stuck around and was fully petted and admired for about 5 minutes, including special pets in the soft fur on his neck just beneath his ears. Hamlet has a sweet spot there (second picture). A few people have petted Hamlet in the past but he’s never actually just hopped right up and asked for it before.
I didn’t have my camera ready when Sienna showed up, but she bravely strolled out of the basement, tiptoed over to where Elle put her hand down for Sienna to rub her face. I’m so happy for these two kitties who’ve work so hard and come such a long way.
Boys looking dignified for their sun bath this morning (because, of course, they are in the bathroom).
From the back yard and beyond
The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd wind slowly o’er the lea,
The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness, and to me.
~ from “Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard” by Thomas Gray
The bells of Sts Peter and Paul rang 7:00 as the sun faded and doves flew in slow circles against the clouds.
From around this date in past years
Home Physical Therapy, With Cats, 2019
Physical therapy at home…with cats. That’s me underneath Bean, Mewsette, Giuseppe and Mimi.
To be fair, they were settled on the bed before the therapist and I got there, and they were thrilled at the prospect I would join them for a nap. I did manage to move them sufficiently to do my therapy, and the therapist was very amused.
The cool thing is at night I have to sleep with pillows between my knees to keep my legs straight, but I have cats and they work much better than pillows. Pillows don’t have a healing purr.
I caught myself walking from the kitchen to the office without a walker or cane this morning. I had very little pain and forgot I needed help. I told the therapist and she said just to be careful, but I was in very good shape both in my therapy and the way I walked up and down those steps. I’m feeling good!
Already napping. But I need to do my exercises!
Photos Shared on Previous Years
Mimi at Work, 2018
What Mimi thinks of me taking most of a week to work on a painting. No lap, because I stand when I work, no room on the table, because this was a big one, and she can’t even step on my drawing paper. It’s totally unfair. A cat just can’t be a cat!
I love it when she curls her tail like that. She does it when she’s feeling extra emotional about something, either really happy, or a little mad. Mimi never gets really mad. But she kept me company through the entire thing. What would I do without her?
Photos shared in previous years
Even though it wasn’t quite warm enough to hang the laundry outside we still got some time out in the sunshine on Sunday afternoon. Last Thursday, as promised, the temperature did not exceed 70 degrees, quite the difference from the day before when it was 93. With the cooler temperatures and a little extra time for me the three of us enjoyed our time outside the girls exploring and me photographing them, just with my cell phone. Mewsette went all the way to the picnic table, which she’s never done before, and she was very impressed with herself. Mimi found lovely sunny spots in which to look lovely. I’ll be sharing some of the others in coming days.
Below, going all the way back to last Wednesday…Mimi is sleeping on the job but can quickly wake up to give me instruction by sleeping on the middle of my pastels. I decided that day’s painting would be my last of the September painting challenge because I was falling behind despite the fact that I was staying up later and later each night to get my paintings done. Steadfast Mimi stayed with me each night. You can read a little more about that painting challenge in New Feline Artwork.
Here is the scene on Thursday morning when the temperature was not already 80 degrees at 8:00 a.m. I rarely complain about the weather since it does no good and I still have to do what I do anyway, but two full weeks of 90+ daytime temperatures and 70+ at night in late September had me pretty cranky, and uncomfortable too. And I wasn’t the only one, considering the miserable cats—I was almost concerned about them since Mimi wasn’t even interested in going outside and no one really paid attention to what was outside the basement door. We are all glad it’s over!
Then most exciting on Saturday evening was the baby squirrel invasion! Bella is keeping a close eye on the two little girl squirrels who’ve been cleaning up under the feeder.
That photo was taken with my phone, but then I ran to get my regular camera. I looked over her ears and saw…
What was that, then the tails rearranged to become the two below. The light was a little dim and they were busy little squirrel sisters so clear shots were a challenge, but the tails really got me.
Then the one sister decided to hide under a leaf, but left her tail up in the air.
Telling secrets, making plans! I yell at their parents who destroy any feeder not made from glass and metal, but I told these two I was happy they wanted to clean up the ground under the feeder.
. . . . . . .
I saw rain and knew I couldn’t pass up a black cat silhouetted against the windows covered in raindrops. Hamlet was the purrfect model, no longer concerned when the camera is watching him. He had birds to watch while I captured his profile, and and another view of his lovely eyes. I made them both black and white photos, then used an Instagram filter on the photo below.
The original black and white photo…
Interesting to see a few more rainy day photos from previous years.
Daily Photo: Rain, 2014
Nice soft rain this morning, Mimi and I tried it, but decided we’d rather come back to the deck and watch it. The geraniums and begonias from the deck are enjoying it, though.
Mimi and I went out the back door as usual to do morning things, even though it was raining. At first it was a light drizzle as I moved all my geraniums and begonias from my deck to the deck steps and path so they could get a good drink and enjoy the rain. Soon enough it was raining a little too hard for us to enjoy so we came back up to the deck to fill the feeders and just hang out for a little. I first shared this from Instagram.
I love photos where my footprints and my cats’ pawprints walk together. I used one for one of my animal sympathy cards so I’d have one that could be used for either dogs or cats. I had always thought these pawprints were Namir’s, taken on one of his last mornings with us, but looking through the folder of images from that morning it could be either him or Cookie. I think that’s totally fitting. So many memories out there from all these years.
. . . . . . .
From the Archives: Sunny Autumn Mornings and Rainy Day Kitchens
It seems September is for memories…when the sunlight in the morning reminds me of these two, just as the green leaves are turning yellow and all the flowers are still blooming, that poignant mix of past, present and future that happens as the year wanes in autumn.
Moses, 19, and Stanley, 23, enjoy the gentle autumn morning sun on the deck in the summer of 2005, a scene I photographed on many a morning, this being my favorite. This was Moses’ last summer; Stanley was with me for one summer past this one.
Beautiful autumn mornings always bring memories of earlier days for me, and as Mimi and I stepped out onto the deck I remembered Stanley and Moses joining me outdoors, creaky and stiff, but warmed by a nap in the sun. Cookie and Namir had to stay inside, and sometimes I’d see Mimi quietly watching us from the garden. My yard is not fenced, and Stanley had a habit of darting off unexpectedly, while Cookie, a youthful 14 at this time, and Namir at 12, would sometimes wander off in opposite directions, while Moses, deaf by that time and fairly hobbled with arthritis, happily slept in the sun on the deck then moved down to the bricks when the deck was in shade. The two geriatric cats had natural seniority and always had their time outdoors. If they came in while I was still in the garden or working on the deck, Cookie could join me as well as Namir, and they did have the opportunity fairly frequently.
Moses always had problems with her knee joints especially, which had never fully formed and always kept her at a slow walk, and pretty much on one level; I set up a series of footstool and chair next to my bed, and she could slowly walk up steps, preferring the second floor. No medications seemed to make a difference and I couldn’t find an alternative practitioner near enough to get her acupuncture, which I sensed would work for her. Instead, she only asked for her daily thermonuclear treatment, simply lying in the sun for at least 15 minutes, even in winter. Only the outdoors would do for this; she preferred the sun-warmed bricks outside the basement door, but the weathered wood of the deck worked for her as well, and her silver tabby fur seemed to hold the heat after she’d come back inside.
Stanley had been with me for 21 years when he passed two years after this photo, and we estimated his age between 3 and 5 when he showed up my porch. After seeing many more cats in that age range over the years, I would guess Stanley was closer to the high end of that span in part because of details in his eyes and body structure that I recognize now. Three years seems kind of juvenile for him at that time, though his swirly stripes and white paws and chest always made him seem youthful. He had slipped into chronic renal failure at age 21 and I dosed him with sub-cutaneous fluids anywhere from daily to twice monthly from then on, but he thrived even with that, enjoying every moment of ranging about the yard, downloading his “pee-mail” from the foliage and uploading responses.
My deck hasn’t changed much in these years. Every summer I still have the pot of basil on one side and parsley on the other, often a cherry tomato plant that grows all over everything and flowers in pots wherever they get enough sun, although the wonderful red-apple hummingbird feeder finally cracked and couldn’t be repaired. I’ve had that since I moved in, and it’s in photos of my deck, yard and house for all those years, like a permanent accent, and whenever I see it in a photo I truly miss it. Not as much as I miss those cats, though.
. . . . . . .
Rainy Day Kitchen, 2010
Cookie and Peaches curl in little tri-color bundles on the cabinet in the middle of the kitchen on a chill, damp rainy day…six years ago, hard to believe. Peaches was enjoying every moment, though with some difficulty; she was suffering from renal failure and general old age at 20 years old, but she wasn’t concerned, she just found a comfortable spot and had a long afternoon nap. After all, she could still get up on that cabinet without any trouble.
Cookie stayed with her during her last month and while Peaches had always, and still, enjoyed the energy and company of her much younger feline siblings in the Fantastic Four, she easily accepted Cookie’s vigilance, much closer to her age and quite full of the wisdom of it all.
Today was not rainy but was a rather dark and chill day like this day but the kitchen was warm and bright; I don’t remember what I was doing that day, canning, making a big pot of soup or baking something, but I remember the company of my girls, and reaching out to just put a hand one of them and then the other now and then as I was working. They were so accustomed to this from me they didn’t even wake.
I didn’t post this photo at that time; something else was happening or I ran out of time to post that day, but the boys spent part of the day in the kitchen with me, and it reminded me of this.
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All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.
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Tuesday: Rescue Stories
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And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!