Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Vintage Photo: Christmas-y, 1993

cats with christmas decorations
Cookie and Allegro checking out the decorations.

I’ve never decorated much for the holidays inside, and this is why. I have single candelabras on the windowsills, and they are taped down with duct tape, but they don’t stand a chance. Neither did anything else they could get their paws on. You can see Cookie is checking them out pretty intently, and Allegro is sitting there pretty possessively. Even the wreaths are outside, though they had been inside before this, but I got tired of cats swinging on them. The tree had been in front of this window the first and only year I had one, but I had to screw the tree stand to the floor, and ended up with no decorations after I put on the lights and Fawn and Allegro chewed on them. I didn’t mind. At that point they were spending far more time than me in the house, and anything new was another source of environmental enrichment, so what was I thinking with decorations?

In the photo below, at the same time, Sally is checking out that candelabra on the front windowsill.

cats with christmas decorations
Sally sniffing the candle.

The duct tape pretty much held up as long as it needed to. Sally romped around the house and loved running on the windowsills and behind the drapes. We put it all outside after that.

In the lower right of the photo of Sally you’ll see a little image in a frame. That’s a note card with one of Henriette Ronner-Knip’s paintings, “The Kitten Art Lesson”. I studied one artist after another, especially cat artists popular in the day like Lesley Anne Ivory and Lowell Herrero as well as Charles Wysocki, and kept examples of their work in everyday objects like note cards and trays and placemats…see the connection? When I photographed my cats even then I was looking for classic compositions, the ones I’d seen growing up. I wanted to use my own cats in these compositions in my own paintings. On my way to finding these photos, I waded through several envelopes of Sophie and Sally lounging on various things. I have the feeling you’ll see those soon.

In the top photo, on the shelf on the left, note the books “Windows 3.1” and “Ram Doubler”—I had gotten my first computer by that Christmas, though the version of Windows still ran on DOS. Windows 95 would come the next year, and that was when I started seriously freelancing, my cats and I settling into this room each evening after I came home from my day job, even as we are tonight, sitting in the same corner of the same room, working on a computer.

It sure is good to see them again, though.


Vintage Photos From Other Years

Late Autumn, 1987

Allegro relaxing in a sunbeam.
Allegro relaxing in a sunbeam.

So I disturbed his sunbath, and Allegro was probably wondering why his human is lying on her belly on the floor just a few feet away from him and looking at him with her one eye thing. His sleepy eyes tell me he’s not really concerned about it, though, and he’s likely moments from either just closing his eyes, or closing his eyes and lying his head down to continue what he was doing before I interrupted him. I have only one photo of him so I would guess some time went by before he did anything else, or I would have more. Apparently we waited each other out. I just wish I’d gotten there a few minutes before the sun moved off his hind legs. I would have loved to have seen him fully alight with sunshine against the shaded background.

I do know that it was 1987 and it was in the house I rented before I moved here. I’m not exactly sure what the date or even the month was, but, as usual, the fullness of the light meant the trees were bare, and the angle of light meant it was within a month of the solstice, and the next photos on the roll were of Christmas. Whenever it was, tall and lanky Allegro always enjoyed a sunbath on the floor, rolling along the carpet as the sun moved across the floor.

Yeah, yeah, it would make a great painting, and that’s just what I thought 32 years ago when I took this photo, and I wasn’t really even painting yet. I still think so. We’ll see.

Vintage Photos from Previous Years

Stanley Napping, 1994

tabby cat sleeping
Stanley napping, c. 1994

Stanley was great at napping in the sun. How many images do I have of him dozing off with the sun on his back?

He’d had urinary issues from the time he came to me, and from his actions and reactions I presumed he’d ended up outside because someone didn’t understand he was peeing all over the house because he had no choice, or because they couldn’t afford his treatment. But in the meantime someone had done an abusive number on him judging by his reaction around feet and brooms and loud noises and how his play would suddenly turn violent. I’d never experienced anything like his urinary condition or his emotional condition before, and between the two I got the second big lesson in feline diets after reviving Moses from near starvation. Lots of Stanley-testing later, we found one that agreed with him and everyone else. But if you looked at him funny, it might start all over again.

So watching Stanley relax in the sun was always a treat for me.

You can’t see his big green eyes here, but you can see the little diamond between his eyes and his terra-cotta nose, the brilliant white chest, and the thing I possibly loved best about him, those big white mittens—I love white paws on any animal, and I have no idea why. Stanley always gave me high-five when he came into a room, doing a long stretch with his right paw stretched wayyyy forward up in the air, toes spread, and he’d stop in the middle of bringing it down to the ground. He would also wave his paws when he was talking to me as if to emphasize what he was saying, but I don’t think he realized he did this. When he saw his paw waving out of the corner of his eye he would look at it in shock as if he had no idea what it was, then recognize it as his paw and decide it was there because he’d been about to give it a bath, so he would.

As I’ve been mentioning, Stanley lived to be about 25, with a great quality of life up until the end. If you are considering adopting and you see a cat in a shelter, don’t be so concerned if they are 10 or older, thinking your relationship will be brief or fear their loss and not give them a home. Cats can live long lives, just like Stanley, and they never stop loving, or being inspiring.

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.

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painting of white cat
A Warm Bath, pastel, 12″ x 10″, 1997 © Bernadette E. Kazmarski

A little earlier in time, Sally having a bath at that same window. Read more and purchase.


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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