Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy Easter, Pappy

It’s been seven years since you died on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day and Easter were your favorite holidays. Being in the garden with your family in the Spring.  You came alive. You were never unpleasant like you could be at Thanksgiving, ruining the holiday for everyone. Something about Spring made you effervescent. Jubilant. 

Memories of legs of lamb, of Bloody Mary’s. Of you in pastel short sleeved shirts and a straw hat. BBQs in San Juan Bautista. Times when the family all seemed to want to be together. My brother, his wife, my kids, my ex, my dad. Later years in my brother’s garden. My dad, my brother, his wife, sometimes my mom, sometimes my kids if they weren’t with my ex. Laughter and joy.

That family now split asunder. Mom and dad are gone. My brother and his wife no longer bother with my family.

My children are my family now. I’m the matriarch, the grandmother. We’ll make new traditions. We’ll sit in the garden and laugh, and breathe in the Spring together.

But in my mind are ghosts. Ghosts of times that were. Of joyous gatherings on Spring Sundays to celebrate rebirth, renewal, and family love. 

Happy Easter, Pappy. It’s days like this I miss you so. 

Monday, September 13, 2021

Is anybody out there?

 Questions to the blogging community:

Are you still here?

I was thinking of getting back to blogging. Should I resurrect this blog or consider this a page in the history of blogging and start a whole new blog? What would you do?

God I hate social media right now…

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Christmas at Ben's Tune Up


It’s one of those joyous times when families come together to affirm their love and connection to one another. In theory.

“This is the best way to spend Christmas.” The stranger said to me as we warmed our hands around Ben’s Tuneup’s outdoor fire pit on a chilly Christmas night. “Way better than family.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not anti-family. In fact, I love my family, and I miss them dearly. But they are on the other side of the country. I’ll be seeing them in February and we will love and connect to each other then. This Christmas, I sat with a motley crew of orphans, enjoying cheer and camaraderie. I provided the camera part.

The stranger and his friend looked like hard working men. Travelers for a living. Some might say they call a truck, home. Some past of which I know not put them in Asheville on Christmas night, gathering around the fire pit. Celebrating the holiday with beers, cigarettes and a gathering of orphaned Ashevillians.

“It’s as if we are two ships passing in the night,” I managed the cliche although I wasn’t really in a talking mood. 

“Exactly!” the man agreed.

It made me think about my travel experiences, and I remembered the joy of connecting with strangers while traveling. It’s something that happens on the road and not so much when you are stationed somewhere. I want to feel that feeling again. I want to travel again, and meet people, and find their stories and document them. The man was feeling it and it made my feelings intensify. 

That long lonesome longing for existential meaning that doesn’t come from any kind of stable anything.

I was in stealth photographer mode that night. Enjoying the smallness of my new mirrorless camera. Figuring out the settings, and enjoying the light feeling of it. Taking candid pictures while pretending I was not shooting people, but only all the pretty lights. (Taking pictures of the pretty lights too.)

There are a few of ways of approaching shooting people this way. In one, they all know they are being photographed and they pose and fake a plastic smile. That’s what you usually see on Facebook, right? Then there is the candid, where you capture people doing what they do and kind of hope they don’t notice. That kind of photography is something I love, and when I tell you why you will know the dark side of me. 

It feels bad to me. There is a kind of rush inside, like I’m doing something bad. Bad like smoking a cigarette, or stealing candy as a kid. (Yeah, got caught shoplifting as a kid too, and that cured me of the stealing thing.)

I mean, I do this photography stuff for a living, but when I’m being paid to spy on people, they are well aware of it and I have artistic license to spy on them all day long. But then there is this other thing, which many people find annoying. I’ve learned that people don’t really like having the camera aimed at them. And yet I do it anyway. I can’t help myself, it actually gives me a thrill. 

Some of the best photography in the world was taken this way. Often with a 300mm lens from the other side of the street. At least me and my camera are smack in the center of things and more than a little noticeable. My subjects are well aware of what I’m doing. I’m only pretending that they don’t see me.

Like the cat who hides in the box with his claws hanging out…

I would love to know what stories these pictures tell in your mind. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Hoping you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season full of joy and connection.

Catherine Vibert
Photographer. Storyteller.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Personal Branding Part II — Will it Blend?

So anyway, where were we? Oh yes, we were talking about Personal Branding.

I’ve been thinking for some time now. Percolating, you know? It’s Christmas Eve and I finally have some time off to write down my thoughts. Thinking about 2015 and all it will bring, and where I am going with my photography business. This blog is a little place for me to write and think out loud. To wax poetic or philosophical, or talk about whatever, psychology, gardening, photography. Or, you know, cats. 

I don’t do well with limitations. Well, that’s not exactly true, I actually like structures in which to create. I think it enhances the creative process to have a few rules here and there. Like in poetry and verse, or harmonious music. And then it’s super fun to smash the rules up now and then. Like, say, Shoenberg. Mash and smash and mix everything up and turn it on its head. Put it into the creative Nutribullet making something completely original out of the sum of broken pieces.

“They won’t take you seriously.” The life coach said to me when I explained I am trying to build my boudoir photography business while simultaneously pursuing my commercial photography business. 

These two genres of photography are apparently not two worlds that coexist well together. I’ve heard it from two different mentors of mine now. 

Can it be that this has supercharged me to try prove them wrong? 

To be honest, typical body-objectifying boudoir photography bores me. 

I mean, sure, I can put you in extremely uncomfortable yet provocative and sexy poses, light and shoot you like a high fashion model and photoshop the living hell out of you. We’d come up with awesome sauce, magazine-worthy images that will make people’s tongues wag. While I admire looking at work like that, and I even enjoy doing that kind of photography, I find it…I don’t know…just kind of, well, shallow?

Yeah. I know you agree. 

And then there’s the fact that I feel like a shyster trying to convince people to part with their money in order to do it. Rattling off the big boudoir cliché sales pitch about how the experience will transform you.

Come on people, this is photography, not enlightenment (or plastic surgery). We all know this.

And while some people become addicted to stripping for the camera,  you might find that you actually hate it, and then you’d be really mad at me for my sales pitch, wouldn’t you?

In order to make it more interesting for myself, I have a different approach. Typically, a boudoir session is associated with photographing women’s body parts. But I am about relationship. Interaction between me and my subjects is what I love the most about photographing people. I coax out your personality by listening and being engaged, and I photograph you.

My experience is that many women who are not models get incredibly bashful when in the vulnerable position of being half naked in front of the lens. They often get shy and try to hide.

I will find a way to see you, the Victorious, the Valiant.  There is usually a whole lot of laughter involved. 

Because I’m a story teller, in front of my lens, you, are the story being told. 

Here comes the is the mashup part. 

Truth. It’s easier to sell photography to professionals than it is to consumers. Photography that tells your story, what you do, how you work, what you work on, what you love, is necessary. Professional and documentary lifestyle photography, specially cropped to fit your social media banners and other online and print needs — it’s vital to your business.

Here’s how I would pitch it:

I tell visual stories that you will use to promote yourself and your business anywhere dynamic imagery that tells your story is needed. High impact head shot portraits included! (That guy on the right, he's a life coach and a super duper nice guy. I tried to capture his intelligent niceness, did I succeed?) 

don’t need to convince or strong-arm anyone to do this kind of thing because the need for this is a no-brainer. Everyone selling anything needs this. Am I right or am I right? 

Add to the images an in depth interview and a feature on my blog that you can link to and point editors to. Oh, I almost forgot, if you need one I can make you a photo rich sleek and modern website design. Yeah, I do that too. 

You hire me for the day or for parts of a day. I coax you forth and tell your story in images and words — whether in lingerie, covered in clay, or working the crowd in a three piece suit. 

This professional lifestyle and personal branding genre actually has a marketable value that can be fully written-off as a business expense.


So what is my personal brand? The overall umbrella that encompasses all I do, and allows me to be who I really am.

I am the revealer. I am here to expose you. Mwuhahahahaha!

How that will be done and how much will be revealed? That is up to you.

So this mashup — to me it sounds good in theory, but, will it blend?

Catherine Vibert

Thank you for indulging my self indulgent ramblings in which I try to figure out who I am. My storytelling blog in which I will focus on others is going live in a few days and when it does I will link to it here. Merry Christmas!! I hope you and yours are having a wonderful holiday season!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Self Examination — Thoughts on Personal Branding


What traps me?

Am I a creative force? A Renaissance Woman? A.D.D.? A cataclysmic clash of fractillian ideas that seem to be most active when I am sitting quietly with a cat on my lap, unable to access any way to write them down so they may find a way into fruition by at least being captured long enough to remember a tiny hair of the original splendor. 

Ah sigh…

To be afflicted by fear of judgement. 

To have been judged and felt the sting.

To have withdrawn into an interior walled in universe in which my only escape is through the lens of a camera, until it isn’t anymore. Until the shallow depths of unrelenting ideas seethe and brew until they vaporize into steam and fade into the distance. Like a summer rain on the heated asphalt.

To crave to survive and thrive from some kind of order and sense made of steam and smoke rising from smoldering flames of long ago. Trying to derive passion from a sea of varied interests, seemingly conflicting, if I could only tie them all together and float to an island of cohesion.

To remember essences of former me’s. The stage diva, the troublemaker, temptress, inflated ego, victimized drama queen, hopeless romantic, family glue, divider, uniter, driven perfectionist, sniveling in envy and jealous introversion coupled with authoritarian speech that sounds like a leader, and everyone is confused when they don’t get there, no one more than me…

I don’t want those me’s anymore. They do not amuse…

But somehow I got creative juice from those manifestations. Juice that seemed like a torrent a few years ago, and now feels like trying to drink water from a trickle. I'm not worried about them judging me. It's me who sits in judgement and stops me from tasting the water.

I have been cut off from my source. 

This is what it is like inside my head these days. The nutshell version.

“Have self compassion,” they say.

Does that mean one should not be honest with themselves? Is the self compassion movement simply another example of whitewashing ourselves to refuse, as is the norm in society, to truly examine oneself?

Or is that just an excuse for allowing an inner terrorist to threaten me with the truth that I am not always the angel of light in this world. Putting it mildly. But who, really, is? Aren’t we really a society of narcissists refusing to look at our effect on the world and on others?

And in suppressing that truth with sugar coated numbness, we propel shadow monsters to squeeze forth from the woodwork, wielding horror and psychopathic ugliness upon society. We sugar coat everyone else too. No, it is not, ‘all good’. There are people out there that are not ‘all good’. Am I one of those people? Eeeeeck!

Rip the shadow from my feet. Don’t look within and notice how much of that is me, hating, feeling envy, jealousy, etc. Just don’t go there. Hide it if I see it in myself. Sugar coat it. Squish it into a black tar ball in my inner right brain, where it might provide food for my creative expression. Or it might kill my creative supply off completely. Or erupt publicly somehow. 

Just pretend. Just keep always pretending.

No. That is not the answer. Sew the shadow back on and take a good look at it. Examine. Examine. Sew the parts together. I am not a single thing, I am a patchwork quilt made with blood and guts, fear and terror, talent and luck, wrinkles, age spots, menopause… I have a point of view that is only mine. I do not. fit. in. And neither does anyone else.

So what is my personal brand? The one I want the world to see, the creative force that isn't a puff of steam?

To be continued…

Monday, August 25, 2014

Friday, August 8, 2014

Things He Said

from desert flight
he descended upon her nest
on a Taurus moonlit night,
dragging his broken, golden wings behind,
warning he may not stay long
yet engulfing every moment
awake and asleep, with his presence.

he said she was a stepping stone
and so he stepped on her threshold

she said she didn’t really mind
(except she did sort of mind )
but looked for a deeper voice
she caught a glimpse of in a dream…

and she was hungry
his lips were sweet,
a flavor she had known

It was nectar
to be near him.

something told her to let him stay
and he stayed
though he said he didn’t know why…
and she offered him water
and he drank and drank and drank

and they would laugh, and play, and he flooded her with attention 

and as soon as she felt in love

he said he felt nothing


no thing at all

she dreamed of poison snakes in the gemini moon...

the surface is hard
but surface cracks
the stepping breaks the stones
under the stones is the water
he longed for water
she let him drink

as she longed for water
so drank his tears
listening, patiently
to long dead stories that filled the air
with sound and sorrow
and longing

she touched his scaly wings
his steel clad armor skin
and tried to reach inside
feeling moments of melted metal
she sang to break the barriers
to feel the soft inside spaces
and heal the broken pieces
or at least try to soften the edges.

He drank with desert thirst,
offering hollow words to her hope
that almost, maybe, he might want her
if she just kept offering her tenderness...

he wondered why he stayed,
arguing that it was


for him

that their arrangement 
was simply a business arrangement
and needs should be negotiated

except they never were discussed

and she excused it.
wrote it off,
because who was she
to have needs that mattered?

and his kisses felt guarded
unless she worked to open them
to soften them
as though afraid to push open
the gates he held so closed

and it drew her in, 
that he was so willing to receive

...the allure of healing, 
(with a sound like being sucked into the void)
seduced her into a twisted hall of mirrors.

and he said he didn’t find her beautiful
while he raved about women all around him 
who wanted him, or (he imagined) wanted to taste him,
women who appeared and circled and reappeared
and wrapped themselves around his world,

while he said he longed for a stepford wife
that had all the inner qualities he found in her
and she would never have the outer qualities
he ordered from the menu
and was confused because she wasn’t that
(because he was supposed to be omnipotent)

she wasn’t there for that character  
she was there for the water she dreamed of
behind the dam of his devices,
and patience began to grow wings
his stream of unconsciousness
denting her armor
her body aching in pain
from his boots…and she questioned her willingness 
to receive the mental blows
while she longed to reach the shores
of the deeper waters

she questioned his intentions
as they walked and mingled, her floating on his arm
the world saw her beauty
and he saw glimpses in their eyes,
she could see him seeing them seeing
what he wouldn’t see

and he defended, deflected, mirrored her weaknesses
got mean on a dime
pushed her buttons on purpose
and attempted to undermine her insights

they slept,
(wrapped up and entwined)
in a sea of self doubt
she dreamed... 

of wasps destroying trees
of bees threatening to swarm
of trying to garden in a vast wasteland...

In the cancer moon’s light 
she knew that he had to step 
on his own stepping stones
to see above the mask
break the armor
that kept him blind

only then
could he see her beauty
hear her insights
touch her with longing fingers
to find the waters
inside of himself
to offer nectar
to their union

she knew
he would need to protect
and give back what he was drinking
or she would fix his wings 
with the bloody needle of his own shadow,

the one he couldn't see
the one he tried to make hers,

and she would send him flying
into the lonely desert
of his superficial existence.

before the roar of the Leo moon, 
a hurricane smashed the glass
in the hall of mirrors.
where she saw the truth lying in the shards,
pieces of her scattered on the ground 
in a heap.
A glimmer of reality echoed in blue,

fogs of awakening...

there would be no great healing,
that was a mirror of her narcissistic hope...
she had simply been Carrion food,
picked apart methodically, 
(as a raptor knows the most delectable parts),

Be gone! she said as she released him to the sky,
his great dark wingspan casting shadows over the nest,
silhouetted as they ascended
and disappeared into the morning.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Be quiet, Metaphor

The romance is dead
At the end of its rope
A fading flower
Its rock has sunk
Twisted into knots
Numb, without meaning, defunct.

My parade is rained on,
Just a grey cloudy sky.
Trying to be here now
Was the winter of my discontent
I couldn't see the forest
For the trees were dancing
Blowing in the wind...
So I had to leave you.


The romance is dead,
I don't love you anymore,
You former key 
That unlocked an imaginary soul.
You were a line
To some sort of God, 
To wings, to dreams, to a new world,
To everything anyone ever wanted.

But you're just a word, sometimes you're a few,
And you disappoint,
Just like all the other words,
Full of false promise, then hope, now despair
I want you to go now, Metaphor,
And leave me alone
To a silence beyond hope, beyond fear
Beyond flowery words
Beyond comparison and analogy
Beyond, Before, Between, Beneath
Be quiet.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Dreams of Hammond Schuster

They lived in the shadows and fed on dreams of light seekers. From behind concrete boxes they watched and whittled, watched and whittled, until they had crafted a manuscript out of the cumulous dreams that billowed into thunderheads from humid brain clouds. And people bought and read the pilfered dreams, never realizing they were stolen from their very thoughts.

An entire society of shadow creatures formed, thrived even, and laughed raucously together over late night martinis while wallowing in tidbits from their swipings. They began to believe in the dreams they had stolen, as if they were original thoughts rather than lifted from the collective virga. With each martini, they anchored the belief that they were above the spidery truth of their existences.

All except one.

60269 rolled out of the bar at 1pm and covered his face with his hands while his eyes adjusted to the mid-day shine. The fog in his head was thick pea soup. All the dreams he had ever taken were swirling in a vortex and he was certain a vicious tornado was going to blow the top right off his head.

At the corner a few yards down a man with a giant bottle of helium was blowing up balloons. 60269 walked over to the man and gave him a buck for a balloon. A swirling vortex moved with the force of a hurricane as every dream he had ever stolen blew right out of his head, through the rubber and directly into the balloon. He felt something he had never, ever known in all the years of thievery — absolute emptiness. 60269 took a pen from his pocket and scribbled some words onto the balloon, released it, then stepped off the curb directly into the path of the 41 Union Express.

 Hammond Schuster knew something was off. He sensed the lack of memory. How do you put your finger on something missing when you can’t remember that something is missing? He couldn’t, and yet it bugged him — it ached, the not there/there thing. He began to search the rooms of his home for some kind of clue, something that would point him to beyond the empty cloud that had meaning with no meaning. All he found within his house were blank walls and minimal furniture. There was nothing that could give a clue to anything beyond the mundane and grey that was his life.

 As he walked through the empty halls, an orange object outside the glass wall that enclosed his living room caught his attention. Given that Hammond lived some 100 miles from civilization or neighbors, it was odd to see a foreign object in the yard. He stepped outside onto the cool grass and picked up what appeared to be a deflated balloon with the words “I can’t deal with it. 4Realz” written on the rubber. As he picked it up by the attached string he began to feel a flood of memories returning. Pianos, music, voices, poetry, dreams — so many dreams — he dropped the string in a shock of knowing.

Emptiness… he couldn’t remember what he had just remembered, he just felt so horrendously empty.

Again he picked up the string, again the memories began, but they were formless, clues without a strand. He needed a map to the there place in the stratus fractus of his mind. He brought the balloon into the house and set it down on the table.

Again, empty, and wondering how a balloon got onto the table, and why it said what it said.

He shrugged and went to lie down on the sofa, deciding that he would read rather than deal with this mystery that he had no hope of solving. Besides, his brain was thickening to a greenish fog, he couldn’t even remember his name.

The book on the coffee table had no title. Hammond picked it up and rifled through the empty pages, then resting the book on his chest, he fell asleep and began to dream — a canvas appeared in front of him...he picked up a brush and began painting... from out of a fog of strokes the piano he played as a boy began to play itself and he saw himself sitting on the bench struggling through the years of lessons, choirs of voices grew to a crescendo of glory then melted away and a poet appeared with a pen and poetry began to flow and the words were sumptuous and full of passion, metaphors which faded into fractured sense as garden after garden filled the canvas — so much color — the entire world was in front of him, so many strokes...each stroke was a lifetime of dreams... a wife, or was it two... children, friends, explorations, passions and desire... oh... and the women, and the choices, he could do anything he wanted to on the canvas of his dreams — and so Hammond Schuster never woke up.

The cops found him in a sea of flies with an open book on his chest. The bright orange words on the cover read The Dreams of Hammond Schuster by 60269.
Note: The balloon really did appear on my lawn the other day so it seemed appropriate to give a story to its possible circumstance.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Where did all the words go?

It’s not that my brain went silent
Seems the opposite is true
It’s not that I don’t have opinions
I have many, yet don’t have a clue.

I tire of ultra soapboxing rants
Get mired in shoulds and woulds and can’ts
What’s real flies by without a glance
As I watch the world dig itself blue.

If I turn it all off and imagine
I could wipe it all down with a glove
And surround the world in white lights
With my magical powers of love,

I’d submerge the pain of seeing
Obliterating being
Essentially fleeing
Into soft pink clouds above.

Perhaps I should take a small pill
A dose that would give me a smile
So I’d laugh off the drama around me
And pretend that I don’t taste the bile,

But then I wouldn’t see trees
That bring me to my knees
And so I’m praying, please…
Help us move beyond denial.

But praying involves belief
In what? I do not know
And hoping is a fairy tale
As rusted stories show.

What else to do but stop
Like fish from water, flop
Take sponge and then a mop
And let the water flow.

A flood, perhaps is needed
To purge the grime involved
To clean the slate and start again
Zipped up now, problem solved.

Ha, not my jurisdiction
My job’s to feel the friction
I have no inner witch-dom
To make this world evolve.

And so I’ve become silent
I watch as words go by
And feel my heart that’s breaking
While tears gone numb, run dry.

I take me to my tasks
Put on a loving mask
And hope this will not last
While clinging to the lie. 

©2011 Catherine Vibert

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

You Never Returned

It's been a long time since I posted in this blog...however, I'll be returning to the place that inspired this prose-poem next week, the land of the Cherokee, the rivers of the Tuckaseegee and Natahala. It made me think of this prose poem I wrote a couple of years ago and so I thought I'd bring it up to the top.

It was there in the misty mountains where my life began and ended. You left me at dawn, promising return by nightfall. I waited for years in the meadow of songs where we had built our love on pledges of golden sun and milky starlight.

You never returned.

Only the music of the storm was my solace. Shattered by the force of time and weather, I became blind. On my knees and with fingers numb from cold, I tried to find the path before me and stumbled into the dark echoes of the woods to seek shelter. Finding comfort on a bed of hemlock, I slept next to the gray wolf who consoled me as I wailed, holding me in his paws and licking my brow.

You never returned.

Only the laughing crows and battle cries of raptors could be heard in the forest. Songbirds fled to sing their cheerful melodies in less mournful places. My tears became the creek that flowed from the great mountains into the Tuckaseegee. Beyond an eternity of hope, shards of my crystalline heart can still be found.

You never returned.


Dedicated to those left behind on the Trail of Tears.

Happy Easter, Pappy

It’s been seven years since you died on Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day and Easter were your favorite holidays. Being in the garden with your fam...