Nonplussed by the arched-back black kitty behind her, Peaches quietly waits for me to notice her. Which I did immediately upon walking through the doorway to the kitchen. She knew this, that’s why she’s sitting where she is. Peaches was 17, and had fallen off the turnip truck many years before, learning all she needed to know about humans in the intervening years.
She wasn’t so manipulative as practical. She wanted my attention for one of her many little senior cat meals, so she would sit where she knew I would notice her. It was a perfectly logical decision. There was never any drama with Peaches. Getting what she wanted as efficiently and effortlessly as possible was her modus operandi, whether it was a meal, my lap, her spot next to me on the bed, or some necessary pets.
Peaches joined us at age 15, along with her sister Cream (originally Rosebud and Angel), after their owner died and a friend of hers and mine fed and kept them in the house while she packed up her friend’s possessions. Neither she nor her out-of-town son could take them, nor could anyone else, and neither of them wanted to surrender them to a shelter where they would surely die. The friend laid out her case to me, and of course I took them as fosters when they finally had to leave the house, knowing that no one was ever going to adopt them from me.
Both were heading into renal failure, while Peaches responded to treatment quickly, her sister did not and left us after 10 months. Peaches lived a little over five years from the time they came here, fitting right into the family as if she’d always been here. I am often surprised when I remember that her quiet, sweet presence was with us for only five years because it surely seemed like decades. We all grieved her when she left us.
She inspired one of my best paintings, Peaches and Peonies. I will never forget her.
From the Archives in Previous Years
Lucy in Turquoise, 2007
By February 2007, Lucy had become quite the model. She was about 10 months old, still petite, but very aware of her posture and position, or so it seems.
When I had that round white table in the kitchen I enjoyed decorating the center of it, changing it at least monthly if not more often, and usually with seasonal flowers involved. Sometimes cats will explore new things to their environment, then sit by them, as if observing their space from a new perspective with the new thing in it. This little gathering of turquoise, black and white things in the center of the white table was a draw for Lucy. I have a few other photos of her in the center of this table too, Lucy with Flowers, 2006 and Lucy With Flowers, 2007
Purrhaps she was showing the black cat figure what a real black cat looked like. It’s a little wooden ornament that came my way on a wreath I think someone gave me; I’m not fond of scary Halloween cat figures, but the little ornament immediately became Lucy. It stayed with that vintage turquoise milk jug after that, even up to the bathroom where it is now, reminding me of these photos and of Lucy. When I started fostering in there I moved it out of kittens’ way because it immediately became a toy, but for me it still held Lucy’s memory.
You might notice that Lucy has her tail curled up against her hip, a constant habit of hers that made her look a little sassy. Once when I went over to the house she (and Mimi, later) had come from, Mimi was on the walk to their door, in a friendly crouch, with her tail curled up in the same way and I mentioned that to the woman who lived there. Later, when Mimi was here, I saw her do it again and remembered that. She still does it.
I often wonder if I’ve conditioned my cats to pose by flooding them with praise when they do? In any case, Lucy had it. Unfortunately, my digital camera at the time did not! I’m fairly certain I took these with the Olympus digital then, offering more than the 2MB point and shoot I’d been using for years but still not good with contrast and shadows, as you can see the grain, and I couldn’t catch the detail in Lucy’s face.
Also from the archives on or about this date…
Big Brothering, 2007
Lucy was a lone kitten in a house full of teenagers, but she made the best of it. The girls, Cookie, Kelly and Peaches, gave her daily guidance on how to bathe, what were the best napping places and how to use toys, but they left playtime for Namir. Namir accepted the role of teasing and chasing and comforting big brother easily, and Lucy adored him. She followed him around, imitated him, and got him to play silly games, like hide and seek, as you see above. Still photos don’t always convey what the subjects were like in moments when they weren’t standing still, so here’s a little playtime between Namir and Lucy when I gave up making the bed, just about 10 years ago.
Lucy thought she had a clever little game of sneaking up on Namir while he patiently sat on the bed and watched all her careful planning. First she leaped under the edge of the bedspread I’d pulled back. I’m sure Namir had no idea!
Then she realized she was in a dead end bedspread! So she turned around…
…and hopped in under the other edge. Pretty smart for a kitten! Of course, Namir still has no idea she’s trying to fool him.
Now it’s all set up! Namir clearly wants to know what the little shadow is under the edge of the covers.
Namir doesn’t move.
Namir still doesn’t make a move. I briefly intervene and lift up the bedspread.
Lucy reaches for him.
No response. Namir, do you see me?
He just doesn’t seem to get it. Lucy has to try a little harder.
Don’t worry, Lucy, Namir’s just fooling with you. He’s like that!
He eventually did get some brotherly “licks” in, but no wrestling match on that day.
Two Views of Cookie and Namir, Plus Lucy, in the Sun, 2007
You may recognize the theme of these photos from “Darling Clementine”. I was taking photos in preparation for that painting from January through March that year, and I did include other cats as well as other props and views in that series. In truth, I’m still photographing my cats in the sun in that spot. I love seeing their long shadows in the sun just as much as seeing them napping.
Lucy was there too, and took Namir’s spot for a while, as he deferred to her, as he often did. Already she was such a model. I’m struck by how much she looks like Mimi here.
Seeing my cats in this scene through the years is a treasure.
Photos From the Archives and Vintage Photos
Photos pulled “From the Archives” were taken by one or another digital camera of mine between 2002 and, well, yesterday, but usually they are older than that, and I had never had the chance to feature them. Vintage Photos are from my film archives back to 1983 when I purchased my Pentax K-1000 camera. They’re a fun way to “introduce” other members of my feline family who came and went before I began blogging, and to illustrate my feline family in general from days gone by.
Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals
Read more about this painting and Peaches. Peaches and Peonies
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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And sometimes, I just throw my hands in the air and have fun!