Bowden Fish Hatchery. I haven’t been here in a long time. Yes, it’s been decades. I’m surprised it’s still going. They raise trout for release into local streams to stock and replenish. It’s a nice program. People follow the trucks with fishing poles to catch the fish as they are released. I guess trout are good eating too. They grow the fish in large runways filled with juvenile fish. The fish grow until quite large.
As an aside I am the worst fisherman ever. I could drop my hook next to a fish (I have) and fail to catch it. It’s neat to see that some things have not changed from my childhood.
Imagine (nightmare) turning your pet loose on the tarmac of the Jeddah airport. At the terminal you are taken by bus and walk the tarmac upstairs to board. I can tell you the process. I know the steps. And at the very last, just before the accept your precious pet, there will be one last paper to file or fill or a stamp you failed to attain. Imagine all of that and trying to get you and your tech out of the country? I was warned and luckily did not try it. Thank goodness!
Here’s what I know. US Customs will accept your pet without quarantine if certain steps are followed. There are forms to be obtained. And there are state forms needed. There is a website and for $15 you can get the forms. Or you can get them direct but you might miss a form. You need a health certificate from a Saudi vet. The pet needs a chip. A rabies vaccine must be administered at least 30 days in advance. The airline requires specific travel crates. The Department of Agriculture must examine and approve the export one week before the flight. You must visit airline cargo one day in advance of travel and be approved. You go to the airport early on the day of the flight and check your pet at the check-in counter. Good luck! There are simply too many moving parts. Anyone, anywhere along the line can foul up the whole process. I’m glad I gave up. I just imagined opening the travel crates on the tarmac and that was enough.
Traumatic!? You bet. I released Casi and Lulu on Thursday afternoon. My flight was at 6AM Friday. I was not about to chase two cats at 2AM before I left for the airport. I nudged Casi at the door and off she went. I never saw her again. She seemed a bit surprised but more than willing to brave the heat of Jeddah. Lulu left me shaking. She was not going. She did not understand. And she fought me tooth and claw. It was one of the saddest things I ever did. I caught her up in a big towel and got her out the door. That evening she peered at me from the bushes but would not come near. The hardest thing was not being able to explain that I was leaving. At least she’s safe in the compound. I hope.
I recall the famous photo of the last helicopter out of South Vietnam with people hanging from the skid of the Huey. It was not that bad! But it was exciting enough to recall – in only a few words.
I had been living out of suitcases since I arrived in Saudi. But stuff accumulates. Dive gear! In the end there were three suitcases, one carry-on, and a back pack. The third suitcase had to go as extra luggage. A cash payment, no credit card, was required. I had to find the 24 bank at the airport. My one hundred dollar bill was shoved back through the teller’s window. Too old! What! Well, I guess I had hung on to it too long. Still good, just no good in Saudi. The second one was ‘medium’ old. Passed. There are two TSA checkpoints. Yup, two! One is for the Saudis and the other is US style – take out your laptop and belt and shoes and everything etc. First checkpoint, fine, no muss, no fuss. The second only minutes before boarding was – nope! My tech gear – multiple redundant portable hard drives – could not travel in the cabin. The bag had to be checked. I had to go all the way back through to the baggage check-in counter. Trust me, it was hell. You laugh. I worried that the drives would be tossed and turned and toast by the time they arrived in DC. The other drives in my backpack were still good to go. The TSA agents did not seem to think the three in the backpack were over the quota. Fine! I managed to leave my laptop at the second TSA. A guy waving the case passed me and I grabbed it back into my possession. Yeah, I was a bit frazzled. Good news, my baggage was off the plane fast and safe in DC. Customs waved me through even with all my stuff. Home! Yay!
It’s a song title. I’ve been hoping that Lulu and Casi will be friends. Lulu was all fur flying and hissing when Casi walked through the door. Jealousy?! I think so. I was Lulu’s human. And she was not sharing. At this point they coexist. The share space. They have divided me up. One or the other will hang near me. At night one sleeps close by to my right, the other to my left. Yes, they sleep on the bed. It happens after a while… Casi prefers to sleep under the covers. She feels safer.
There are encounters. And even some playful cuffing goes on. I do not think I will ever get a portrait of the two of them together sharing in any gossip. I belong to them. They share. But they are not happy about it. I will therefore stop short of discussing the Muslim belief here that you can have up to four wives. Did you know? They rotate. The first wife goes in order to make room for the fifth. That is how they get around the limit. Cats! I’m still waiting for them to be smiling in the same image together.
…on a roll here… I am not a cat person. Dogs are easy. You call. They come. You feed them. They wag their tail. Cats are entirely different deal. Love ‘em or hate ‘em they are just not the same as anything else. Personality. They do not come when called. They wag you not their tails. They get under your skin and you are hooked. Elle is shy. She turns away from the camera whenever it points in her direction. I use street photography to get her. I hold the camera and don’t look like I’m taking a picture. She will not let me hold or hug her. She will come to me for petting when she wants. And I am so glad to touch her, I pet her every single time. Immediately. She has me trained.
It’s all in the eyes. Lulu, too, has green eyes. Piercing! That is the feature. That’s it. I’ve got pictures of all the cats that have been around me lately. Each time I look at the stunning riveting eyes. I have a lot of memories and the totem is their picture. Green eyes. Stunning. They stop you in your tracks. I know someone with green eyes too. Yup, it’s true.
It’s gonna hurt! Don’t do it! That’s a rubber band. Lulu has it and like a train crash I was fascinated. No animals were injured in making these images. Pride? Maybe. It didn’t seem to hurt. It would not have helped to say, “NO!” She doesn’t understand. Maybe Arabic? But definitely not English. Actually, she’s smart. She knows things.
She looks at me just before she pounces Casi and then reconsiders. I’d tell her don’t play with rubber bands. And I cringed while she stretched it out. Smart cat. Dumb cat.
I’m on a roll. Ok, I give up. American slang can be pretty confusing. A “roll?” – like a biscuit? – something you eat? And why would I be on it? Yeah, it’s confusing. But just “roll” with it. Eh? It’s why I illustrate my point.
Another non sequitur, poor Casi has a scratch across her nose courtesy of Lulu. I just noticed it. She’s the beta to Lulu’s alpha. But she’s tough. Someone is gonna complain about my use of unlinked pronouns. Which “she?” You just gotta “roll” with it. Ha!
Slow news day, so go for the easy subject. Shoot your cat. Well, my cat, and, no! I did not shoot my cats. And you should not shoot your cats either. I got some grab shots. Yeah, grab! I guess it’s ‘cause I grabbed my camera and shot them. …with the camera! – not a gun! Oh please, maybe I’m a bit punchy? Or would that be punchie? Yes, my daughter will complain again. No cats were harmed making…. They play. They tease. They destroy.
My lovable cat likes to get on my desk and stretch out fully, legs extended, and pushes off all the desktop contents. That would be my external hard drives! Yikes! Fortunately, no hard drives were injured either. Casi is smart. She can smell the black string after she bit on it. She traced it to two different drawers. And she did not understand the concept but did manage to pry the drawers open. She opened my corner kitchen lazy Susan cabinet. She got inside. The trick is getting back out. That is not so easy. She got stuck in there! Meanwhile, she likes string. And I like to get pics. So we had a session. Everyone got something. Humor? If you are here for the jokes, it’s not me. I’m a very serious kind of guy… Shoot! If Casi had destroyed my external hard drive I would not be in good humor at all. Gee, English can be so ambiguous.
There are questions that have no safe answer. Try, “Do I look fat in this dress, honey?” Try to answer, ‘Yes (you are),” or “No (you were, but not now).” Get my drift? I realize that there are a lot of people in my audience who are not attuned to American humor. In fact maybe I don’t have humor at all. Do you see the glass “half empty?” or “half full?”
I shot a moose once. (Yes, it’s obvious. I photographed it.) And someone in the audience asked me if I had really “shot” it. Seriously, he was very impressed (that I shot it)! No, dopey! I don’t shoot animals. I photograph, but I do not shoot. Actually, I shoot whatever is there. Get it? Well, try to understand that I am not working with a full deck and American slang humor can sail right over your head. Sorry.
As long as we are on the subject (vaguely) I was called out by my daughter. “Did you play with the puffer?” Caught! She immediately knew that the puffer was only puffed because I had provoked it. Smart cookie, that kid of mine. I deny that any fish were injured in the making of this photo. However, she contends that I have shortened its life by scaring it. Go figure!
With the very long preamble, I ask, “Do you like your photo portrait with direct or indirect gaze?” Subtle, but definitely different, it’s a matter of choice or taste. For me, I like a direct view straight on. But it’s definitely disconcerting to look straight away into someone’s eyes. It’s much more intimate. Hey! It’s a cat. Lulu’s my cat at the moment I don’t exactly ask her to look at me. I try to get her to look in my general direction and then get my camera into her face. She’s tolerant. She doesn’t get it. But she is occasionally in one place long enough for me to get a couple shots. The portrait is a success based on dead on focus on the eyes. After that composition and the rest are up to you. There are so many bad pics out there. Try harder. And it is affirmative, “a good fish photo has the eye looking toward you!” Mooses too!
The experiment lasted until evening. Then I tested the waters and Bidi left. She’s much happier. So much for my theory about being out in 100 degree weather with a fur coat – it hot! Right? I think that she might have come around. But hey!
Meanwhile, I’m back to Lulu and Casi. Suddenly they get along better. Imagine that. Neither cat disliked Bidi. But seemingly the inside cats are closer since Bidi left. Bidi is back outside and lurks by my door to await food. We’re all good around here. You can’t win ’em all. Some days you get the bear and some days the bear gets you.
It often find myself looking at the background of the photo.In that case you will see my computer screen. I go to Amazon and read the NY Times. And the article is about mean things said by supporters at Trump’s rallies. Cats are curious and like to get in my business. And I tolerate a lot. How else could you get such a photo op?
No diving again. I was almost there and got the word that the waves were too high. Darn! I headed home. What to do? Ah! Cats. I have lots, too many, pictures. Only a few select can be posted. Picture fatigue. Funny, some folks don’t mind my prose. And then David complained the other day about my not giving him sentences. It was messaging. You don’t use sentences? I’m old. The protocol and communication via email and social media are lost to me. Fine! He was asking if Freeport was worth a visit. He never said that. It’s an outlet center. Shopping. LL Bean. That store is open 24/7. Really! Oops, no sentence again. Drat. Darn. He’s on his bike trip to Nova Scotia. There is no margin to carry extra weight. “Don’t go,” I advised. He messaged back later, “It’s a nice town.” Following advice seems to run in my family.
Anyway, I got a lot of cat pics after I brought Bidi in. It’s suddenly quiet. And then only Lulu and Casi appeared when I made noises to draw out any cat’s curiosity. Bidi was hiding. Ah! She’s got Casi’s old spot. And suddenly Casi and Lulu get along. Imagine that! No, no, no, fish not cats, I’m a fish person. I shoot fish. Repeat and repeat again, I shoot fish. Oh my! Those are pinned back ears. Lulu has been admonished enough that she checks with me before she is about to eat Casi. … no cats were harmed in the making of this photo.