The sun reflects from the grass onto Mewsette’s beautiful round face as she seeks the purrfect blade of grass. She is difficult to photograph because she always runs to me when she sees me pay attention to her, as she does below.
Mimi and Mewsette enjoy prowling the yard through the taller grass before I give it its monthly mow.
Such enrichment for them, but it’s also for the environment, for integrated pest management in my back yard, and for the lawn itself. I have used an electric lawn mower for decades, helping to keep the air and atmosphere clean of the noxious stuff that comes out of a two-cycle engine. Letting the grass grow permits a lot of beneficial insects like spiders and beneficial nematodes to flourish among the grass stems, catching fleas before they get to my cats. And while most of my lawn is wildflowers and herbs that bloom in succession and also help to keep pests under control, once the spring blooms are finished I cut the grass tall and monthly so that it grows strong roots and has time to photosynthesize and feed itself so that it can compete with other plants. I have never used a chemical in this yard from the day I moved in.
Below, the photo from 2019 is from the day after I had finally met with the orthopedic surgeon and learned I ought to have my right hip replaced if I wanted to keep walking for the next few years. It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since then!
None from the past few days!
From the back yard and beyond
Click the photo or the title to read about this photo.
Daily Photos From Previous Years
Daily Photo: What’s Up? 2019
Now, there’s the Welcome Kitty with a vase of a little of everything that’s blooming in the yard right now, mostly wildflowers from my overgrown yard. But wildflowers are fine with me, even though I typically have lots of other flowers in midsummer as well.
And over on the left you see Giuseppe telling me not to be so full of myself. Well, Giuseppe, you’re not looking at a hip replacement in a couple of months! I was neutered! he responds. I can’t top that. At least I’ll still have a hip when this is over.
Yes, that’s what’s in the future, and it’s also been building up through the past couple of years. An aching hip began in October-November 2017. I have a little arthritis in all my joints and a little scoliosis in my back, so aching joints aren’t a surprise. Typically I can work things out, sometimes going to my doctor for a little bit of pain or inflammation relief. It shifted somewhat, and about the time Sienna joined us in December 2017 it felt very much like sciatica, another condition I’m familiar with.
Through the beginning of 2018 it would come and go, but I could still walk with just a little stiffness and also ride my bike. I did not have health insurance until later that spring so I did what I’ve always done when I had little aches and pains, that always went away. I plowed through my schedule of vendor events, did a little TNR around the neighborhood then in June, after months of researching the house then organizing where everyone would go, I moved on to the TNR project at the abandoned house on Dunbar Street, through all the fosters, the surgeries, and moving them to the farm. I was limping noticeably, and nearly all the time, though I still had some pain-free days. Moving around felt good. I decided to slow down on vendor events and host an open house here instead. Then the 11 Cherrydell cats, and Mariposa joined us. Then my Panhandle Trail exhibit had me so sore I could barely stand, then September and I could no longer ride my bike.
Without the vendor events my income was reduced by about one-third. I applied for utility assistance and through that process found I qualified for medical assistance. With health care on board my doctor and I began some testing, pain relievers and supplements as we had always done with my joint issues like this. It could be arthritis, could be a hairline fracture. Was I starting into my family history of osteoporosis?
Things went well, and into the new year I was experiencing less and less pain. But once vendor season started again, each time it took longer for the pain and inflammation to reduce after the event. Then even my long days at my work table making things and framing produced the same amount of pain. Then the event in June, after which I had more pain than I’d ever experienced and it was not going away. My doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon, who I saw this past Monday. Nope, he said, there is nothing left of this joint to save. It’s covered in arthritis, you are bone on bone. It’s probably been building up for a decade. You need to have a hip replacement.
I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but when my hip seemed determined to be more and more painful I had the feeling this was in my future. It’s odd that one joint would go so far bad and the rest maintain the same level they’d always had. I am 58, so I guess it’s about time for something to need to be repaired. I have never played sports but always been very physical, purchasing my little carpenter special and climbing all over it to fix it up and maintain it, carrying things for gardening and for my vendor shows and on the trail that were probably heavier than I should have been carrying. I rarely fall, but I do use my hips for things like closing the car door when my hands are full.
I went for most of the past year trying to take it easy on this right hip, so that I could preserve as much as was left and possibly we could repair it. In the process many things have gone undone, basement unwaterproofed, materials and boxes stacked here and there for the issue of climbing into the attic or under the bed, gutters growing wildflowers. If 10 kitties purring on it couldn’t heal it, probably there was no hope.
I now can’t walk without support, and the doctor gave me a cane. I walk through a room holding on to the furniture and wincing, and Hamlet sees me acting strange and is certain I’m stalking him and runs away. Mariposa saw my cane and disappeared into the basement.
In the meantime, the pain is constant. Some days it’s so intense that it wears me out and I fall asleep earlier than usual, sleeping through the time when I typically set up my blog posts for the next day and set up Instagram posts. In the morning it takes me longer to clean litterboxes and do some laundry. I fall behind on posting and other things, and never catch up. The excessive hot weather made that even worse. It’s been a very strange time, giving up so much I enjoy and even take for granted. I am missing the summer wildflowers along the trail and in the fields, and walks around my neighborhood, town and city to photograph whatever inspires me, and getting ready for my annual exhibit on the Panhandle Trail. My physical ability has always been an important part of my independence, even my ability to make a living.
So that’s where I’ve been. But now that I know I don’t have to try to preserve my hip I can get up and get some work done. I spent the weekend with my retired friend Bill cutting down two small trees so the baby raccoons would leave their nest in my deck roof and find another den; their mother has been calling them over with her. We moved a non-working refrigerator and dryer from the very tight spaces in my basement so I can better organize printing materials down there and have a tall stool to sit on at my workbench and even washer and dryer, and I can roll around on a chair when I clean the litterboxes. I’ve cut the grass and been moving wood chips from the trees that were taken down. My hip hurts and ironically simply walking hurts it most, but all this work doesn’t make it worse than it has been and it makes me feel so much better. Hamlet and Mariposa are reassured this is just me being a strange human.
My surgery is scheduled for October 3, so I have two months to wait, then at least a month before I’m back to getting around normally, probably two or three before I can get to vendor events again. Hopefully I can maintain on my limited income, so any sales on Portraits of Animals are much appreciated. But I know I have lots of friends who will help me get back on my feet. And I will be posting whenever I can.
Mr. Sunshine is airing out his belly indicating that the official temperature in here is 85 degrees.
Bella, that is leaf lettuce and you are an obligate carnivore. Please explain.
Daily Photos From Previous Years
So What Have We Been Up To? 2018
Another week has gone by and you have no idea what we’ve been up to! Well, it’s the human’s fault because I’ve been up to some TNR and some rescue and when I sit down to write a blog post I fall asleep. That just means I need to catch up, so we’ll do that today. In order from oldest to newest, above is Hamlet from July 31. He is irresistible.
Also from July 31…
It was the Meow Mobile today when six little kittens lost their unnecessary body parts. Thanks to Pittsburgh CAT for rescuing, fostering, and finding them great forever homes and Humane Animal Rescue for providing low-cost spay and neuter. I’m just the driver listening to the chorus.
From August 3…
A walk in the rain was worth it this morning for this. No, Mimi did not get the squirrel, but she got close enough before he realized that he may think twice about another visit on the ground.
Because there are no more spots available anywhere in the house. This is at my elbow, at my desk. They are looking down at my lap and taking aim.
From August 5…
Who are you, our pet sitter? We haven’t seen much of our human lately. (11 kitties all trapped, surgeries and moved to farm today. Now I can get back in my own kitties’ good graces.)
From August 6…
Big screen CatTV this morning. Several babies are fledging and learning how to eat at the feeder and cheeping wildly. Bella, Basil and Hamlet are purrfectly camouflaged. Basil always hides behind the center bar and peeks around the sides, Hamlet is flat peeking over the windowsill, and Bella fades into the corner.
From August 7…
Welcome kitty says, “Have a beautiful day!”
Daily Photos From Previous Years
Bella fussed around until she was at just the right angle for a purrfect sunbath this morning in the basement. Above I have it with the Instagram Nashville filter, below it’s just black and white.
Later, I only washed tank tops and shorts this morning so the girls had no nice shady areas from dresses and skirts. But Mimi and Mewsette found garden shade. I finally managed to clean the overgrowth off my brick patio by the basement door. From last year when the tree fell it took weeks to clear off and then was the place to put things to be out of the way. Little by little, I am getting my lovely yard back.
And we had a visitor this evening when I went to bring in the laundry. A black phase female tiger swallowtail was so excited to find the phlox I’m surprised I got a photo that was clear.
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Photos from previous years
Little Alvina is a real window kitty! As soon as they were out of the bathroom today she was at each of the three new windows well before her brothers. Little Vee is a real birdwatcher while her brothers prefer to chase each other and toys.
It was time to let the kids out of the bathroom to get accustomed to living in the rest of the house, little by little, and to meet the ninjas. Well past time—I’ve had so many projects upstairs with frames and glass and bubble wrap and all sorts of other things that I didn’t want the kids to get tangled up in, so I’ve kept them locked up aside from a few escapes. Theodore discovered the apron strings hanging from my chair in my studio and soon all three joined him.
The bathroom needed a good cleaning, though, and inspection by the adults in the household, so I blocked the stairs and opened the door. A few of the ninjas were upstairs already, and over the next couple of hours they came and went when I moved the package of matboard to let them up or down the stairs. All but Charm met the kittens. I think she’s had enough of kittens for a while.
Simon was up on my bedroom windowsill too. As far as I know, Theodore stayed on the floor—he’s a specialist in exploring nooks and crannies and making cat tracks work. Unfortunately, the windowsill in the bathroom is too narrow with the baby gate up for protection so no one can sit there, Alvina puts her paws up and looks out all through the day but neither of the boys has ever paid any attention.
Bella was on my bed when the little ones started their invasion, but she was okay. She is the master of getting her little body into silly positions as she hung off the bed like a cricket to tap noses with Simon.
Basil was totally amazed at everything they did, and wavered between hissing and swatting when the kittens got too full of themselves to having a really fun chase. Funny to think of Basil as the adult!
Simon was the most confident of all of them. Alvina and Theodore were a little timid and ran from me at first, but were fine with me as soon as I touched them, but Simon ran over to me for kisses and supervised the cleaning of the bathroom floor. Such wonderful kittens!
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A few photos from Friday
Flat Browser Visits!
As a follow-up to the book review I wrote last weekend of “Rescued”, and Browser the Library Cat I was excited to have “Flat Browser come to visit, and encourage readers to buy a copy of the book during July to help support his rescue. But he didn’t arrive here until Friday afternoon, the last day of the month. Still, it was fun to run over to my library and capture photos of Browser all over the place! And, of course he met the kids.
A literary house panther, Browser B Katz, came to visit our library in Carnegie, all the way from Pine River MN today! He stopped to pose at the front door of Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall in Carnegie, then went inside to visit the temporary library in the basement because the “real” library is being restored, but he did get to meet Katie at the temporary circulation desk. Then he went on to visit The Lincoln Gallery, and he was even on the stage at Carnegie Hall! And then he met Basil and Sunshine and Giuseppe and Mewsette at Bernadette’s house! What a fun day! You can read more about the book I starred in “Rescued”, and Browser the Library Cat. Don’t forget that all sales of the book through the end of July help support Paws and Claws Animal Shelter!
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Mimi enjoys her daily sunbath while Mewsette watches the birds from my studio window on the second floor.
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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Weekly schedule of features:
Tuesday: Rescue Stories
Thursday: New Merchandise
And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!