Saying Goodbye

I am so unbelievably sad. We had to bury our Little Kitty yesterday morning—a bright, beautiful morning—after he was hit by a car. He was three. 

I am still in bed when Batman jumps onto my nightstand. I part the curtains so he can step onto the window sill. He is perched there for a long time, and I later realize he can see the street from the window. 

Jeffery is in the kitchen washing dishes, singing about Little Dude like he does, when I hear a knock on the door.

Our neighbor is more flustered than usual, apologetic for waking us. “We weren’t awake,” I assure him, stumbling, “I mean asleep. We’re awake.” 

“I’m so sorry to have to tell you this, but your cat has been hit by a car.”

“It wasn’t our cat—” I blurt out, and take stock of the kitties. Batman is in the bedroom and Little Kitty—

I look past him to the street. Through the white fence I can see him, fluffy black tail, red tag, lifeless. 

I shout for Jeff, who is still singing, oblivious to the knock on the door (you can’t hear anything through cedar walls), I shout again, louder. He comes. I retreat to the couch to sob.

Batman watches from the window as we dig a grave. Tears spill on the soil. We hit rock about three feet down.

I sit on the porch in the sun, and Batman comes out and joins me, sniffs the air. The breeze picks up, and cherry blossoms fall around us like snow. 

He never got to experience summer. Since moving into our home and letting him out into the world we’ve watched his personality blossom. He would chase us around the yard like a dog, always wanting to be where we were. He was so particular. He loved perching on fence posts and curling up on the rice straw between the rosemary and the garlic, safe from the world. He loved being outside. And when he was inside sleeping, he had to have a pillow

I need to eat something. The pit in my stomach, the ache and the hurt and the sadness and the pain, is magnified by my hunger. I haven't had anything and it's almost noon. I set the water to boil for a third time.

All day Batman looks at me with these huge wondering eyes. We let him outside and he sniffs all around, searching. How do you explain to a cat that he won’t see his little buddy again?

It’s crazy how much you can love an animal. How much joy they can bring to your lives. I think about how much less hair I’ll have to clean up as a consolation, and it doesn’t make up for the gaping hole. In just a few short years he completely stole our hearts.

Life is fleeting. You never know when it’s going to be the last time you see someone. His life was so damn short, but every day was full.

A few months ago I was playing around with my camera settings and decided to make a double exposure. To do so, you select a photo that’s on your memory card and then you take a second photograph. I chose this one of the kitties:

And then I snapped a shot out the window. The tip of his tail becomes a little tree, right above where we buried his body. I find it hauntingly beautiful.

Hug the ones you love. And please please drive slowly.





Today I turn 26. And I am realizing that for the past four years, since graduating college and moving back from England (which felt like a fantasy the entire time), my day-to-day has felt like I'm not yet living my life. At first it was me paying my dues, working my way up, and that it would all pay off. I just had to be patient. 

When I was working retail I knew it was temporary. After a particularly challenging day dealing with trying customers I would remind myself that this isn't my life, it's a job and it's only a matter of time before I'm out of here. The "regulars" who came into our store day after day and drove us crazy, this was their life (and I pitied them), but it wasn't mine. (Some of our regulars were absolutely lovely, most were absolutely crazy.)

After our first apartment on 19th Avenue in San Francisco, I haven’t since decorated another (maybe I’m just not that into decorating?). They have all felt so temporary, and they have been. We have lived in seven different places in eight years. And we are so ready to move again, and this time plant our roots. 

And now, working in other people's beautiful homes and taking care of their beautiful children, I think, this isn't my life, it's theirs. And most of the time it's a beautiful life, and I'm happy for them, (and happy to be employed by them), and I'm not envious because I know mine is going to be even more beautiful for me. 

When we're in Hawaii, we're living the life my parents have created for themselves, and it's a beautiful escape from the real world. But it's their life not ours. 

I guess I feel like my life will start when I'm a mom. When I’m taking care of my own children, instead of someone else’s. When I’m making the decisions, instead of following directions. When I’m photographing my own babies, as well as yours. Or maybe it will start when we have a home where we can do all of the things we've been dreaming about for years. And those dreams have evolved.

When we were in England we dreamed of living in downtown San Francisco and getting a dog. And that place turned out to be the least livable of all, and definitely not dog-worthy. Now we dream of acreage in the country. Of fruit trees and daffodils, succulents and a clothesline and fresh herbs and barbecue dinners, of star gazing and hiking in the mountains. Room for our dog to run. Room for our kids to run.

I've always looked forward to the future, to being older, wiser, more capable, more experienced. Which is why, I think, it keeps getting better. I hope I always feel that way, but I also hope I can one day be more content with the present. 

25 was a great year. I started my own photography business. It was the one of the most intimate learning experience of my life. I had to grapple with a lot of tough questions, mostly on my own. At times I was so overwhelmed with what I didn't know that I couldn’t even ask for help, I just had to battle through it until I came out the other end and could breathe again. And that was a lonely place to be. I learned that I need to be better at asking for help. I never ask a question that will expose my ignorance on the topic. It’s because I want to be taken seriously. But I know it’s in that place of vulnerability where the growth happens. I’m trying to let down my walls. 

Right now we're saving. We want to make the move as soon as possible. Maybe nine months, maybe 18. Hopefully no longer than a year or two. It's going to happen. Maybe 26 is the year. Maybe 27. This is the final stretch of this chapter, I can feel it. And I’m looking forward to the next ones. How sweet they’ll be. 


New Additions

Taking advantage of some pretty afternoon light to capture my newest additions. I started in on the dishes, but then got distracted by how good my plants look in the window. Priorities. On the left: button fern from the Half Moon Bay Nursery that we picked up on our way home from Santa Cruz. On the right: mistletoe fig from the Berkeley Horticulture Nursery, which I purchased almost two months ago (it hasn't grown much). 

I think they balance one another nicely. Jeffery and I have started stopping by our favorite nurseries whenever we're in the area, on the off chance something jumps out at us and we can't leave without it. It's kind of like checking out an animal shelter, but less risky. I recommend both of these nurseries. Fantastic and varied selection and knowledgable and friendly staff. (I purchased both pots from the Berkeley nursery as well.)

And a couple shots of the kitties. I think I really captured their personalities in their expressions. My wild little light catcher and my crotchety old man. They also balance one another nicely. 

The Life of a Cat

After I wrote my last blog post on Sunday morning, I hopped out of bed, scarfed down the delicious French toast my husband made out of a loaf of Acme bread (the best), and drove 15 minutes to North Berkeley for a game of pickup soccer. It was great, there were 10 girls so we played 5 vs 5, and then as people had to leave it turned to 4 vs 4 and eventually got down to 4 vs 3. We should have stopped at 4 vs 4. We should have stopped, or at least I should have stopped, when I yelled "last goal wins" and the other team scored on our pitiful group of 3. But even though we were hot and tired and mismatched, we kept playing.

And then something stupid happened and I rolled my ankle over the ball and collapsed to the ground. I knew then that it was bad. I knew I should have been wearing my ankle brace, which I had worn in my game the previous day and which had made my ankle feel good. My ankle felt so good that I made the conscious decision not to wear the brace for a game of pickup.

But I'm not going to get into all of the things I wish I had done differently to avoid being in my current state of immobility. Because in the last 48 hours I have made a lot of positive changes to my website and overall business that I probably wouldn't have made a priority if I weren't laid up. Please check it out. Click on the tabs, view those pretty faces and let me know what you think.

So, my life is that of a cat. And I don't know when I'll be able to walk again. And I don't know when I'll be able to go back to work watching kids. I also don't know when I'll be able to photograph clients, which is the worst part. If I still can't walk by the weekend I suppose I'll have to go in for an X-Ray. (The uninsured wait until they know it's not somethings that will heal on its own.) In the mean time, if you have any movie recommendations send them my way!

Cats of Hillegass // Hiking Berkeley Hills

Walking around Berkeley I found these lovelies. The green eyed tabby, "Flower," kept running towards me, proving a difficult subject. I have lived in the East Bay just over a year now and I feel like I am finally starting to really know my way around Oakland and Berkeley. But tonight I went for a run and discovered the Stonewall-Panoramic Train, up above the Claremont Hotel. It was steep. Really steep. It's part of the Claremont Canyon Regional Preserve in the Oakland and Berkeley Hills. I have hiked trails in the Preserve before, but none that are walking distance from civilization. It was a popular choice tonight, a couple even hiked some beer up to the top and were enjoying the sunset on a bench at the summit. I do not plan on taking my camera up that high, but I think it is worth another visit. Going down was an entirely different challenge, you kind of have to shimmy and let gravity help you out, but not allow yourself to pick up too much speed. I could feel my feet sliding all the way to the front of my shoes. It was invigorating feeling connected to my body in two different ways. Thighs, calves and lungs burning on the way up, concentration and agility all the way down. 

I had three family shoot cancelations the month of July, so I'm hurting for models. If you know of anyone who wants to get in front of my lens, let me know

(You can check out my portrait series of cats in Norwich here.) 

Climbing Hills

kitty scoping out wildflower bouquet
daffodils from above
california spring wildflower bouquet

My friend Jeannine and I went for a hike in the Berkeley hills, up behind the Claremont Hotel, and I came home with a bouquet of wildflowers. It felt so good to be surrounded by nature. Especially when the hillside is littered with Scotch Broom, wild Lupine, Indian Paintbrush, Forget-Me-Nots, and sweet pea. Mr. Curious was all over them, making me realize that this is his first spring, and he's never smelled wildflowers before. How exciting.

The daffodils were grown by Marina. I'm pretty sure the woman brings me most of the flowers she grows, along with those she forages. What a peach. Favorite things right now: flowers in my home, curious little kitties, hiking mountains. In the next couple weeks I have a few photo shoots with humans, which I'm really looking forward to. Not that anyone ever tires of looking at flowers and kitties.

Company, Kitty, Flowers and Bows

flowers by the window eucalyptus mums
little black kitty by the window
kitty by the bookcase
utensil crock blue bow

I love having people over because it motivates me to clean house and buy flowers. I haven't seen Sam and Christian since their wedding and it was so much fun reconnecting. It's great spending time with people we know we're going to be friends with for the rest of our lives. We made eggplant lasagna and Waldorf salad, Häagen-Dazs froyo with blueberries and chocolate syrup for dessert. And they brought bags of bagels which lasted for days. Looking forward to camping trips this summer, spending time with them on the Yuba river and in the mountains of Nevada County.

When I was in Hawaii, Jeffery accidentally knocked my Le Creuset utensil crock off the counter. They discontinued that model, so I was on the hunt for something new. Last month my friend Nicole took me to the Oakland White Elephant Sale, the most beautifully curated flee market I have ever seen. I found this one for $5, hand painted in Italy and it's my new favorite thing. Besides that little black kitty. He's pretty great too.

Holiday Tradition: Gingerbread

kitty in the sun
cookie cutters
kitty plant rug
gingerbread cookies
arugula drying
gingerbread cookies cooling
pretty pansies salad viola
soup and salad
little black kitty
pointing spectators bird houses
bird houses on a truck berkeley
shadow sky tree silhouette lights

Marina and I have started a gingerbread cookie baking tradition. We had a really nice date today hanging out with the kitties, getting in a couple games of Scrabble, and doing some holiday shopping for one another. We have a nice arrangement going. I find her new lipsticks and she keeps our kitchen stocked with gadgets. Today she replaced our salad spinner. We liked the old version because it was collapsable, but it had a pull string that had one too many goes. The new one has an "effortless lever." We'll see how long it lasts.

1. Kitty in the sun. 2. Marina's cookie cutter collection. 3. Kitty on the rug. 4. Marina doing work. 5. Marina-grown arugula drying on tea towels. 6. Cooling. 7. Edible violas=pretty salad. 8. Turkey soup and three bean salad for lunch. 9. Kitten face. 10. Birdhouses in Berkeley. 11. On a truck! 12. Rain clouds clearing.

Around the House in Black & White


Studying photography has really increased my awareness and consideration of light, and I wish the days didn't have to get shorter before they get longer. Jeffery and I are working hard to get through this semester. We're hoping it will start to pay off early next year, because we want to do more fun things together. Like go camping. And visit flower farms. And NorCal breweries. And we have never been wine tasting or to the top of Mount Tam or Mount Diablo. There is so much to do and see just right here in the Bay and so little time. I feel like I am fighting time, and I have to be more patient.

Right now I'm feeling grateful for mild Bay Area weather. My heart goes out to those affected by the dramatic weather, with tsunami evacuations threatening my Hilo family and hurricane Sandy making things wet on the East Coast. Stay dry everyone!