Koi study #2

17 02 2017

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. iPhone 6s / Snapseed app border


Koi study #1

17 02 2017

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved. iPhone 6s / Snapseed app border


R.I.P. Spot

29 01 2012

My prehistoric looking pleco, Spot, left me for bluer pastures last night. A hand-me-down, pass-along pet from my friend, Rob, Spot was a sort of aquatic mascot at Rob’s office with Pepco Power in D.C. for many years. Rob estimated that Spot was at least a decade or older before he brought him home. After a major kitchen remodel where Spot didn’t match the decor anymore, Rob asked if I wanted to take over nurturing duties. I was up for the new challenge and you can learn more about Spot, “the $500 free fish,” here.

Spot came to live in my studio sometime in 2007, so I had the unique pleasure of caring for him for more than five years. Rob and I estimate he was probably more than 12 years old when I inherited him, so it would be safe to say he lived to be at least 18-20 years old, possibly even legal drinking age. (I just called Rob to tell him of Spot’s demise and he estimated that Spot was probably well into his 20s). Spot grew substantially in my care, measuring exactly 17″ long when he departed this realm last night.

Ah, Spot, suffice it to say that you will be missed. I’ll miss your gentle nature, imposing prehistoric presence, tank-sucking headstands, and robust swimming spurts when you thought I wasn’t looking.

Below is a photo I shot of Spot doing one of his infamous foraging headstands with a backdrop of goldfish, long since gone.

52 fish pile-up

23 07 2011

Sorry about the lame title…my other contenders were “a fine kettle of fish,” “fish soup,” and “koi calamity.” Photographed at the Marie Selby Botanical Garden in Sarasota, Florida

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Farewell to Pat Bryan, cat (and fish) sitter extraordinare

3 10 2010

Our beloved cat (and fish) sitter, Pat Bryan, passed away very suddenly on 9.22.2010, at the age of 58. He started his pet-sitting business, Cat and House, about a decade ago. He had been caring for our cats Jasper and ZenaB, Spot the pleco, and various goldfish for the past four years. He came very highly recommended by my friend Regina. Pat was as concerned for his client’s pets as he was his own (11 at the time of his death). The amazing people at Kingstowne Cat Clinic (where we take our cats) are arranging for foster and permanent placements of his cats. He took care of many of our neighbor’s cats as well. Last winter Michael and I were out of town and hired Pat to take care of the pets. While away, our area had a record 30+ inches of snowfall. The roads were inaccessible, so Pat walked miles through the snow to take care of our pets and others in the neighborhood. Now that is dedication! Even when I would warn him that one of the goldfish might not make it (suffering from one various malady or another), he still felt bad if it expired on his watch. Before each pet-sitting gig, he would ask, “no fish are gonna die on me this time, are they?” He also threw in garden watering and houseplant watering when we were gone longer than a few days. Everything living in our house thrived in his care.

I was out of town this week, so I couldn’t attend the outdoor memorial that Kingstowne Cat Clinic arranged this past Wednesday. My good friend Jeff was there and reported the following:

“It was a very nice event. The first hour or so was largely taken up by people telling stories about Pat, many cat-related, of course, but also all the other ways he touched their lives. My contribution was telling the story about how when Regina and I were trying to settle on a pet sitter, we had one that didn’t work out and met one or two who just didn’t give us the right vibe, but that when we met Pat we instantly were taken by what a nice guy he is and when Dusty walked up to check him out I said “if he licks you, you’re hired” (or something to that effect) and that moments later Dusty did just that, and we had a new pet sitter. I also mentioned that when I learned the lengths Pat went to get to places to take care of Lilly and other cats during the blizzards that I was not at all surprised and that I knew I had one kick-ass pet sitter (after that line I turned and apologized to the priest who was there for the service—that got a good chuckle from the crowd, one of many as there were a lot of very good, very funny stories that were told).

That priest did a very good job, and I liked how his sermon worked in themes about how people who deeply connect with animals tend to always be the really good people out there, and mentioning more than once that the best way to honor Pat is to take those things that were good about him into our lives and make ourselves better people, and as a result, be a real part of Pat’s legacy. He wasn’t too dogmatic or preachy, which I think we all appreciated.

Good turn out. And a ton of kudos to Kingstowne Cat Clinic for bringing it off wonderfully. Pat’s aunt mentioned that she arrived, she was bewildered and barely functional, and told how the Kingstowne folks, especially Randi, embraced her and helped in so many ways. They really went above and beyond.

I definitely got a bit verklempt during the proceedings and was very glad I could make it.”

On a memorial board to Pat, one of his friends posted this beautiful Native American Prayer:

I give you this one thought to keep,
I am with you still, I do not sleep,
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow,
I am the sunlight on ripened grain,
I am the gentle Autumn rain.

When you awaken in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.

Do not think of me as gone—
I am with you still—in each new dawn.

Pat was infinitely dependable, endlessly compassionate, a supreme lover of animals, funny and a truly sweet person. I feel privileged to have known him and so very grateful that he loved our pets as much as we do. We love and miss you, Pat—Cindy, Michael, Jasper, ZenaB, Spot, and Goldilocks

Blue Dasher Dragonfly on Water Lily

26 06 2010

Serendipity! I was photographing this water lily at Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens early this morning and was silently praying that any one of the myriad dragonflies buzzing about would land and pose for me. And it was so. Michael was talking with a woman by the water lily ponds near the park entrance and she mentioned that she and her husband visit the gardens often, most recently accompanying a photographer friend who had just gotten a new long and pricey lens. She said that he set up his tripod with his camera, attached the long lens to it, then turned his back. (You can see where this is headed, can’t you?). Off went the whole contraption into the shallow water lily pond—lens, camera and tripod! He immediately insisted everything was okay with the camera and lens. (I can just imagine I would say the same thing—not so much to calm my nervous friends, but more to keep from breaking down right there and sobbing!) Um, yeah…let’s hope he was right—-but I’m just not sure digital equipment can survive a dunk in a pond without needing some kind of intervention afterward.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


11 02 2010

Photograph of a jellyfish at the Mote Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Koi pond at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens

9 02 2010

On Thursday morning Michael’s father took us to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota. The 9.5-acre bayfront property is best known for its living collection of more than 6,000 orchids as well as its large representation of warm tropical epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that grow upon another plant (such as a tree) non-parasitically or on objects such as buildings or wires. They derive moisture and nutrients from the air and rain and are found in temperate zones. Epiphytes include some ferns, cacti, orchids, bromeliads, mosses, liverwort, Spanish moss, lichens and algae.

I shot the image below at the Koi Pond at Selby Gardens. I saw this statue and visualized the koi swirling around it, but the fish were right up against the edge of the pond, begging for handouts. So Michael ran off to buy fish food to help make my image happen (isn’t he the best?). He came back empty-handed since they ration out only a day’s worth of fish food for visitors to purchase. Not about to give up on my vision, I asked him to just splash water toward the statue. Bingo—the entire mass of fish started swimming in that direction. Psych! Click! (click, click, click…9 shots later…)

Wikipedia: Koi were developed from common carp in Japan in the 1820s and are a symbol of love and friendship. The carp is a large group of fish originally found in Central Europe and Asia….The ability of carp to survive and adapt to many climates and water conditions allowed the domesticated species to be propagated to many new locations including Japan. Carp as known as koi in Japan.

I especially enjoyed the art exhibit, Batiks Botanicos—Gardens, Plants and Flowers for the Soul, on display until February 23 at the Museum of Botany and the Arts in the Mansion at Selby Gardens. A native of Colombia, artist Angela Maria Isaza captures tropical and exotic plants using the batik process. Originating in the East, batik is a wax-resist dyeing technique. Isaza applies hot wax and various dyes to natural fiber cloth to create her beautiful paintings. This step-by-step process is based on the principle that wax resists the water-based dyes. After wax is applied to certain areas, the fabric is dyed in one color. The dye penetrates the unwaxed areas. This process is repeated several times. The wax is removed by ironing the cloth between newspaper pages.

Many of the paintings that are on display can be seen on her website here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Decluttering with Jasper & Spot

10 11 2009

I should come up with a better name for the cleaning I am constantly doing in my office (and every other corner of the house). It’s not spring, so it’s not really spring cleaning. Let’s call it what it is—decluttering. Constantly. I emptied out a canvas and wicker basket late this afternoon. Jasper, who never turns down an empty box or basket, claimed it as his nap bed for the rest of the evening. I only had one of my point-n-shoots ready, so the quality of this shot is questionable—but I love it anyway! He’s watching Spot, our “sea monster,” as my friend Debbi calls him/her (we still don’t know what gender this pleco is). What we do know is that he/she is huge—a little over a foot long now. Spot is sucking algae off the tank (plecos are primarily algae eaters). Check out my posting here about how we inherited Spot, the $500 free fish.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


Jasper & Spot


See Spot do a trick!

24 05 2008

Spot, our “$500 free fish,” gets into the oddest positions (such as his “Look Ma, no hands” headstand shown here) to hunt for yummy algae in the tank. There’s nothing to show you scale or size, but he’s over a foot long now! In the background, you see my other 55 gallon tank with two 59 cent Wal-Mart goldfish—Calico Joe (almost 11″ long) and Dorrie (8+” long). (Do you know how hard it is to measure a moving goldfish?) They used to be in the backyard pond, but we brought them in for the winter a few years ago. I’ve long since bonded with them, so in my studio they will stay.

Learn why we call Spot our “$500 free fish” here:


Learn more about plecos here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plecostomus

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.