Sunday, 12 January 2020

Blog Post - 12 January 2020: Deciding to Love the Cat

I blame the cat on my husband. It was he who decided five years ago that Otis, our beloved dachshund, needed a kitten for company. I had mixed feelings but reluctantly agreed. 

Husband and grandchildren found the kitten in the local animal shelter. Husband wanted an independent black cat who wasn’t clingy. I favoured a calico lap cat, but I’d never lived with a cat, so what did I know?                                                                                                          

The name we chose was Morgana le Fey, after the princess in the Arthurian legends. It soon became clear, however, that she was not so much a princess as she was a pain in the ass, so her name became Pita. (An acronym – get it? Grandchildren still insist it means pain in the abdomen.)

Husband and I decided Pita would be an indoor cat, thus sparing countless birds. Cue applause from the Audubon Society.

I disliked Pita from the beginning. I was sullenly recovering from a back injury and didn’t like how she wove around my feet. I was afraid I would trip over her and re-injure my back. We put a bell on her so I could tell where she was, but she quickly ditched it. My roles as feeder and litter-cleaner didn’t impress her – I was staff, to be tolerated or ignored as required. 

Years went by, and I remained actively ambivalent about her. I tried to like her, but then she’d bite me, often drawing blood. She was everywhere, knocking things over and breaking them, usually in the middle of the night. I tried photographing her, but she wouldn’t co-operate. Most of the photographs are blurry and forgettable.

When husband and I escaped to Australia three winters in a row, Pita happily claimed the house as her own. She and pet sitter, who checked in on her daily, got along famously. When husband and I returned, she looked at us disdainfully, as if to say, “Oh, it’s you. I thought I was rid of you.”

We joked – sort of joked – about abandoning her on a country road, or hiding her in guests’ luggage, or ‘accidentally’ leaving the back door open for her to escape. And she did get out a few times, never venturing far from the house. She even spent an entire night outside. I was surprised at how much I worried about her, feeling relieved the next morning when I found her hiding under the deck.

However...a few weeks ago, I started realizing that I really did love her. There was no dazzling moment of insight. No epiphany. No road to Damascus revelation. It was simply time for me to acknowledge she was part of the family, despite the annoyances. Or maybe because of them.

I had decided to love her. 

She now lets me massage her. She occasionally jumps into my lap. I rub her head vigorously, and she leans into it. As I write this piece, she’s lounging in a nearby chair, staring at me.

I’ve decided she can come to Picton with us when we move in October. That’s the way with family, isn’t it?

I hope you enjoy these photos of Pita. Not my best photography, but they do give you a sense of the little black kitten that has burrowed her way into my heart.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Blog Post - 5 January 2020 - Bloomfield at Night

To start off the new year – a look back at the beautiful village of Bloomfield on the evening of Friday, November 29. For those unfamiliar with Ontario geography, Bloomfield is located in the centre of Prince Edward County. I spent a lot of time in Bloomfield as a child in the 1950s when my maternal grandparents lived there. Once a bustling agricultural community with canning factories and a railway station, Bloomfield today is best known for its boutiques, its Air B&B listings – and its annual nighttime Santa Claus Parade.

I have been experimenting with urban night photography (without a tripod) and decided to use Bloomfield as a testing ground – a good opportunity to play around with camera settings. I’ve already posted photos of the parade itself, but this set of photos features the village before the parade began. Many of my photos I made that evening were forgettable, but a few have a certain magic. It seemed that most homes had their curtains open to allow the household light to shine out into the night as a way of welcoming guests to the community. The photography was a learning experience, to be sure, but I now have renewed respect for people who do nighttime photography without a tripod. I want to work on these skills, but meanwhile the photos below give you a sense of the light and magic that were afoot in Bloomfield that evening. Enjoy!

Sunday, 29 December 2019

Blog Post - December 29, 2019 - Colouring My World

Our three family gatherings over Christmas this year were wonderfully warm and enjoyable. Each gathering had its own energy and rhythm; each left me feeling blessed beyond measure. And each was an opportunity for profound gratitude.

The gatherings took place in three different locations: the first at Chris and Jenny’s place in Toronto; the second at our place here in Belleville; and the third at Kate and Tim’s place in nearby Stirling. Each of the three homes has its own sense of warmth and welcome. was the gathering in Toronto that was most interesting for my camera, primarily because of the dynamic decor. Wonderfully wild and eclectic visual feast...and my camera loved it! 

The photos that follow, all made in Chris and Jenny’s east-end Toronto home, give you a flavour of what greets you when you enter their front door. Thank you to Chris and Jenny for allowing me to photograph their home and to post the photos online. 

These photos provide a fine way to close out 2019 and to prepare the way for 2020. They are stimulating, energizing, and life-affirming. May these qualities transfer over to the year ahead. 

With every best wish for a happy, healthy new year.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Blog Post - December 21, 2019 - "Celebrating Joan Reive"

This is a time of the year to celebrate and reflect. Whatever holiday traditions bring you joy – Chanukah, Christmas, Festivus, Hogmanay, Kwanzaa, New Years, Solstice, plus your own private celebrations – may your year ahead be filled with love, health, and justice.

To help you celebrate, here is a series of close-up photos of work by the Belleville-area artist Joan Reive. Joan is a gifted quilter, painter, and human being. There is a wondrous exhibit of her quilts currently featured at the Belleville Public Library’s John M. Parrott Art Gallery, 254 Pinnacle Street, Belleville. The exhibit is called “The Fabric of the Land: A Retrospective of Art Quilts by Joan Reive.” (link) The exhibit runs until Thursday, January 2.

My photographs – made and posted with Joan’s kind permission – do not do her quilts justice. They focus only on intimate details. To fully appreciate the magnificence of Joan’s work, please visit the Parrott Gallery yourself.

With every best wish for the season – from my home to yours. Enjoy.

Thousand Islands (Detail), 1989

Sailing Series #1 (Detail), 1994

Prairie Series #6 (Detail), 1994

Bridgewater (Detail), 1998

Still Waters (Detail), 2015

Spires (Detail), 2015

Rocks (Detail), 2015

A Hint of Autumn (Detail), 2015

Lake Vistas #2 (Detail), 2016

Laurentian Lake (Detail), 2016

The Spirit of the Land #2 (Detail), 2018

Spirit of the Land (Detail), 2018

Shades of Grey #1 (Detail), 2018

The Lonely Land (Detail), Undated

A Fall Day In Westport (Detail), 2015