Mom was always the photographer. She — the prettiest of subjects with the beguiling face and creamy skin — photographed us stringy kids and my dad with his Buddy Holly glasses and big belly and frown. She photographed her uncooperative sisters, her unsmiling brothers-in-law, her aging parents, her goofy nieces. She photographed our house, our car, our dog.

First she was simply a reliable documentarian. Then she got arty, and played with the possibilities presented by the single-lens-reflex camera. She eschewed the flash, and instead took long exposures using fast film. All her pictures from that period have a warm, soft-porn glow.

My favorite is a photograph of our beloved cat, Nitany. His paws on the top edge of the aquarium. His face illuminated by its light, glowing orange and furry and soft. You wanted to kiss that cat he was so beautiful. And yet so deadly and cold. Nothing but feral killer inside.

He’d gaze into the aquarium endlessly as we laughed at him, the would-be fish slayer. We laughed, seeing his true nature thwarted by the flimsy protective screen atop the glass rectangle.

That is until the day we came home and discovered little skeletons scattered in the tracks of the oval rec room rug: Tiny fish bones the only evidence of the carnage that had unfolded while we were at school.

This piece started as a “wild write” at a one-day workshop I led in San Francisco. For my day job,  I sell residential real estate in San Francisco; for more about that visit or