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

Just updated my online photo galleries!

2 07 2010

I’ve added more than 50 new images to my Botanical Portfolio on zenfolio.com. Many of the photos were shot in my own front and back yard townhouse gardens, while others were shot in gardens across the U.S. and Canada. In every city I visit, I make an effort to visit a botanical garden or nature preserve to capture new images. I recently added the Mitchell Park Conservatory (The Domes) and Boerner Botanical Garden in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to my roster of gardens I’ve visited. Both were worth the visit, but Mitchell Park really needs to do something about the exterior entrance of their conservatory. When we drove up, we noticed weeds growing up through cracked sidewalks and the shallow ponds on either side of the door were drained with weeds growing in them. We almost didn’t stop to get out because the place really looked abandoned. The inside, however, is a completely different story—beautiful, lush, and well-maintained. We read in their brochure that they recently renovated the place and added LED lights to the domes so they can be viewed at night in the Milwaukee skyline. I’m sure it’s beautiful lighted at night (never mind that it’s not actually open at night unless there’s an event), but they really should have set aside some of those funds to fill the ponds with water, plop in a few inexpensive water lilies and 49 cent WalMart goldfish, and do some weeding and cement repair. (Psssst! Hey, Mitchell—I’m available for consultation and implementation!)

And to see why I love my local Green Spring Gardens so much, visit my Green Spring Garden photography folio and see the plethora of photographs I’ve shot exclusively there over the past four years.


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.

Okay, now that’s just plain lazy, Cindy

20 12 2007

I’m trying to get out of town. And desperation to meet my “photo per day” quota is setting in. Fish are always handy. Not a great shot, but it will suffice. At least the composition has some merit. Please accept sincerest apologies for my laziness, Brian.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.


What? Another fish?

19 12 2007

Yes. I confess. I’ve run out of time again today. So I turn to the ever-present fish for a last-minute subject. Shame at my lack of creativity today is enveloping me. MUST GET OUT TO SHOOT TOMORROW NO MORE FISH

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.