It’s time for another vintage photo of my household. I have this photo hanging in my kitchen and though I see it every day, there are days when it fully captures my attention. I study it, and each time I see more in it. And so I did today.
It’s from the time when I first began to consider my photos “good”, perhaps to consider them “photographs” that I might display and sell as prints and framed items, instead of just “pictures”. This was, maybe, ten years ago. “Pussy Willow” was taken earlier than that but stayed on my mind. It was one of the first that made me take another look at my other photos.
What I like most is the abstraction, the light and shadow playing on the objects and the walls, both the pussy willow and the cat turning from positive objects to negative space as the sun and shadow move across them.
I would not have taken the photo without Namir, though. I do like the pussy willow on its own and always have it somewhere around the house where I can enjoy its stark figures. When he got bored with me and walked way I took a photo of just the pussy willow, and it’s nice, but not something I’d frame and hang on the wall.
I always associated Namir with pussy willow too, something about the texture of his fur, and his white oval paws reminding me of the catkins. I turned around, there he sat, that lovely warm spring sunshine washing over the scene, it was as if it was waiting for me to photograph with the old fully manual film-based Pentax K1000.
It was also taken on a day very much like today, a sunny late afternoon in late April. I have a version of it that I desaturated in PhotoShop and I like the semi-sepia look, but it doesn’t capture that original inspiration, the warm April sunshine literally pouring in the window, coating everything it touched with gold.
You may have photos like this as well, this is partly why I explained all my reasoning.
I’ll have this for sale in my Etsy shop soon, but it’s not a standard frame size so I have to be certain the molding I choose for the frame is regularly available from my supplier.
You’ll find Namir mentioned in plenty of articles on The Creative Cat, and don’t forget to look at the header image, which features him in another of his contemplative moments in the sun.
Unless I have linked the photo to something else, which is rare with daily photos, you can click the photo to see a larger version. I save them at 1000 pixels maximum dimension, and at that size the photos are nearly twice the dimension and you can see more detail in many of the photos I post. Please remember if you download or share, my name and the link back to the original photo should always appear with it.
To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.
January light is so beautiful, the sun still at a low angle streaming into windows and doors, the days often overcast and the brilliant warm yellow sunlight a respite.
I was browsing my library of feline photos and saw this one of Namir from 2007, who you’ve only met through stories since he passed about the time I began blogging, and thought I’d share it. He has his toys there, the sisal mouse and a milk bottle ring, but as animals, and humans, do when they meet up with the relaxing effect of warm winter sun, a contemplative stillness falls, and perhaps a nap ensues.
Namir was so graceful and dignified and obviously knew how to strike a pose, even though he was a total goof and in another moment could be on his back with his legs impossibly twisted, or toss that mouse up in the air and do a back flip right after it. I love his pose, and also the little touches of home, my home, the canning jars, honey jar, oatmeal container; perhaps I only love it so much because it was one of those complete moments that we all experience now and then, where every familiar thing is in its place and all is warm and safe and filled with love.
I took a series of photos of Namir in the sun in the kitchen that January, enjoying them as photos and intending to do a few paintings, and indeed I did do a watercolor of one of Namir’s poses from another morning.
I chose this one because I also liked Namir’s intent posture, ears forward, whiskers drawn back, his tail curled into the nearly perfect circle that was his trademark tail action.
This photo had much more light in it as it washed the cabinet, but I also had the wooden clementines box filled with things that needed to go into the basement, the canning jars and the cylindrical cardboard containers with their brightly-colored labels. Another example of that homey feel, my kitchen, my stuff, my habits, my cat, my home. Yet others enjoy it too. Sometimes we are not too different from one another.
I also posted this on Today today; it’s one I’d wanted to share with both audiences.
To see more daily photos go to “Daily Images” in the menu and choose “All Photos” or any other category.
All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used in any way without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in purchasing one as a print, or to use in a print or internet publication.
I’m sure plenty of kitties will be receiving heart-shaped treats and toys this February 14, and of course they will be grateful for our enthusiastic generosity for their welfare.
But you might benefit your kitty, and many others, with another type of heart-shaped gift—a donation to the Winn Feline Foundation’s Ricky Fund which funds research into Feline Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), the most common heart ailment among cats, and a very common disease among cats in general. This research will potentially save thousands of feline lives by studying the genetics of the disease and prolong thousands more lives while providing realistic treatment for cats who have been diagnosed with this disease.
You may have read my articles about Namir and his four-year struggle with, and ultimate death from, HCM in July 2009. Cats deal with illness and discomfort so well we might never know there was a health issue, and Namir had no time for any suffering, but behind our everyday activities was a lot of pain and discomfort on his part, and worry and watching on mine. There was also four different medications twice a day, occasional trips to the emergency room when he developed congestive heart failure, watching him lose weight and muscle mass and ultimately know that he had no time left, and that I had to choose euthanasia rather than watch him suffer his last hours or days.
I was lucky to have Namir for years before the symptoms showed even though we’d found the heart murmur early, and he lived to be 15. Others are not so lucky because it is not unusual for a cat to be diagnosed with HCM as a kitten and only live to the tender age of four or five. So it was with Steve Dale, nationally known and syndicated pet writer, radio show host and owner of Ricky, for whom the fund is named.
As Steve writes in one of his blog posts: “In 2002, I lost my best friend – a cat named Ricky. He was a unique dude. Long before Nora, he also played the piano (improvisations jazz). Being a social guy who didn’t relegate his musical skill to his own home – he performed ‘in concert’ at places like Petco and PETsMart. Ricky knew how to do as much as most dogs, the list included jumping through a Hoola Hoop, sitting on command, giving ‘high-fives’ and more. He helped to demonstrate cats can learn just as much as their canine cousins.”
Steve commented after a recent meeting of the Winn Feline Foundation’s board,
“I am gratified that in Ricky’s memory, we’ve actually raised over six figures for the Winn Feline Foundation Ricky Fund, and scientists have been able to prevent some cats from ever getting his horrible disease. But we still have a long ways to go to prevent all cats from ever being diagnosed. Or to find an effective drug to treat feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Right now, HCM is among the most common causes of death in middle aged indoor cats, perhaps the most common. That has to change.”
Read the rest of the above post, including more about Steve Dale and the Ricky Fund on Steve’s blog in Celebrate Valentine’s Day from Your Heart to Your Cat’s Heart and Ricky Fund for Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Research, and on the Winn Feline Foundation website where you can also make a donation.
Ricky sounds as if he was a really unforgettable character, playing the piano and doing tricks and more. Read about Ricky on Steve’s website at Ricky Showed Us What A Cat Can Be (careful, it’s a real tear-jerker, but well worth the read!).
Visit the Winn Feline Foundation for thorough and reliable information on feline health and health studies, and sign up to receive regular updates on their research.
More cats are kept as pets than dogs, but cats get less veterinary care and fewer studies are done on behalf of feline health (Catalyst Council). Research needs funding, some of which comes from foundations and government sources, but some of which needs to come from individuals like you. Cat owners need to show support for research and treatment in order to change this.
A year ago today, at just about this time, I said goodbye to one of the most unique, most loved cats I’ve ever known, but remembering him is hardly a sad affair, not with a goof like Namir. It’s a celebration of a cat who, despite multiple life-threatening health issues, loved every single blessed moment of every single blessed day and shared that with every single blessed person he ever met in his life, including all the veterinarians who every poked, prodded or did indecent things to him. I’m still finding things he taught me and reasons to be thankful he was part of my life.
Following is the introduction to his story, written last year about two weeks after he transitioned. Please read through the introduction, but especially click the link to go to my website to read all about Namir and look at all the photos and artwork. If you’ve ever loved a cat, I’m sure you’ll find something to identify with in his story; and if you’ve lost a cat, I’m sure your journey was much the same.
July 13, 2009
I say farewell to a dear friend, my Namir, who was a dear companion and a great inspiration. The art in the header is actually a painting of Namir, and my avatar for Portraits of Animals is Namir’s face from this painting.
In addition to this blog post, I have written a remembrance of him on my website, and invite you to read it and enjoy the art and photos.
It’s rather long, but I write this memory of a remarkable cat because I want others to remember him, still others to know him, and to share some of the more challenging things about living with a cat who has several unpredictable and life-threatening conditions, the time, the finances, the decisions, those last moments, the impact on the rest of my household of cats, and, of course, what a creative inspiration he was for me as a painter and writer and photographer, even as a designer of stylish crochet items.
And woven through Namir’s chronic long-term conditions has been the pattern of my household growing older, developing an end-of-life illness and then each is gone. For about five years I’ve been extremely vigilant, observing appetites, checking respiration rates, taking temperatures, administering sub-Q fluids, giving medications and whatever supportive care was necessary to keep everyone comfortable, often to several cats at one time, as I lost four in one year. Losing Namir is, in a way, the ends of that cycle finally meeting. Loss is only an end if a lesson in the loss goes unlearned, so this cycle has fine tuned my ability to care for all my cats because I have learned many lessons.
Professionally, I have been able to immediately put these lessons into design work which I coincidentally began in April and May. The cremation service I use is also one of my customers for design and photography, and we’ve been redesigning her logo and building up her website to include much more information about her services. Through a chain of connections I was able to illustrate the cover and booklet interior for a pet loss CD, this in turn leading me to work on my long-term idea of sympathy cards for the loss of your animal companion. Reciprocally, working on these projects when I knew I would soon lose Namir gave me great comfort in the last two months.
And I hope to share my experiences for the sake of anything that anyone else might gain from them in lessons or comfort, technical information even, though I’ve kept everything pretty general, and not named any persons or businesses.
July brings the anniversary of many things feline-related—losses, rescues, births, new artwork, and I’m looking forward to sharing the stories and related articles and information.
I begin below with two losses, but read on, they turn into beautiful things.
Today as I compiled and packaged my entries for the Cat Writer’s Association Communications Contest I had bittersweet memories of June 30 last year, the last day Namir spent with me. Though we knew his time was very limited due the advanced nature of his hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and more frequent and severe bouts of congestive heart failure (CHF), his last day was just like any other day and for all that he and I shared I am glad we didn’t share a long and painful decline and debility.
I wrote a tribute to Namir about two weeks after he passed, and I’ll run this July 1, in memory of the first anniversary of his passing. It’s not sad because Namir was full of energy and creativity, a truly remarkable cat beloved by visitors to my house—in fact, he was always greeted before I was. I’m looking forward to sharing his antics and laughing over the goofy things he did.
And in his memory I’ll be providing links to information about HCM, which is all too common in cats but with newer treatments and medications is no longer a death sentence.
Between February 2006 and January 2007, I lost my four oldest cats. In the middle of those losses I fostered and found homes for a litter of kittens born to my Mimi, before she was my Mimi; I kept one of those kittens though I hadn’t wanted to with all the needs of my older cats. I hadn’t had a kitten for years, and my next youngest cat was then 11. Sleek, petite Lucy, solid black with yellow eyes became the new future of my household.
But when she was a year old she was diagnosed with effusive feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), and I lost her at 15 months. The entire experience was a story in itself, but to honor Lucy I’ve been working on some artwork using her image, bright and colorful and playful as the kitten she was. I’ll be glad to introduce the artwork and the story of her kittenhood in paintings.
Mimi and the Fantastic Four
As much as I would rather have shared a long life with Lucy, she gave me a wonderful gift from beyond the rainbow. A few days after she had passed I was watching her mother in my garden, quite pregnant with another litter, and I know Lucy put the idea in my mind that hot July morning to take her in.
So July brings a rescue day and a birthday. The Big Four will be three years old on July 26, and Mimi joined my household on July 29. Now that’s a reason to celebrate!
And in honor of Lucy, the whole extended family, even the kitties who don’t live with me and those from other of Mimi’s litters, will be getting swabbed and entered into the FIP study at the University of California at Davis. I’ll be providing links to information about FIP and writing a few articles about treating FIP.
Many years ago a good friend of mine compiled a huge, comprehensive page of information about cats. This friend happens to be the mom of Angus and Donal, Lucy’s brothers, and she is also the person who taught me my first few lines of HTML coding back in 1997, sending my career off in an extra direction of design.
Amby’s Cat Information Page at www.amby.com still exists, and though she hasn’t had the time to update links and information I’ve decided there is too much there to just let it sit unnoticed. I’ll be extracting information, updating links and posting articles on The Creative Cat, beginning with an article Amby wrote detailing the process for trimming claws. In addition to the illustrations, we discussed videotaping the process and adding that to the article as well, so we’ll be working on that project for July as well.
Now that I’ve got my studio in shape, I’ll be able to begin working on portraits again, and I really can’t wait. I’ll be posting updates as I work so you’ll be able to see them take shape.
But for now, Peaches, who is doing well now that we seem to have her right inner ear under control, wants dinner. Everyone who’s been sending good vibes to Peaches, thanks! Keep it up every so often because it really seems to work for her!
It’s obvious in this sketch that Namir had quite the Oriental breed influencing his good looks. The only problem was that he was gray tabby and white, n ot marked at all like an Oriental breed. I used to say that he was an Abyssinian cat who had been painted at birth.
I loved those huge ears, that prominent nose and whisker pads—especially since his muzzle was white and quite stood out—and those tourmaline eyes. His tail was very expressive, long and slender with a little bend about an inch from the end that only showed when he was feeling especially intense.
He fought hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure for his last four years, but with his social nature, congeniality and general busy agenda no one would have known he was even ill. Instead of “he fought” I should say “he ignored” his illness, because he did. I lost Namir on July 1, 2009, and I’ve written a remembrance of him which is not sad, just remembering all his ways and days with lost of photos and artwork, and his last day. He is also the subject of several other works, including the art in the header of this page. You can find him on my website under “My Cats” in the first page of color artwork, and under “pencil” as well as in my Marketplace in individual and sets of notecards.