Rain had just fallen. We missed the thunderstorm. It was ahead of us. We caught the remnant as we traveled through. There was fog on the mountains. You drive a lot. You don’t see fog very frequently from the road. At least, it is a rarity for me. Layers. I remember watching layers of mountains while in the car as a kid. I recall the Blue Ridge mountains? Clouds? Layers of mountains? I’ve seen it since. They are always fun.
Since I was inspired by the lecture at the Biggs Museum on photographic judging, I have sought/run into situations that are not ideal. No matter. Just shoot. Don’t mind wires, houses, or any other extraneous distracting elements. At least you have something. It won’t be in any major photo exhibition. But I have that decidedly ‘funky’ look that maybe more fun than I had otherwise considered. That art critic taught me that anything goes and what he likes should not have any influence upon what I might like.
Traveling west by car I had an opportunity to see weather and clouds and sun all interact. I ended up with a greatest hits parade. The images were too numerous to count. I was struck by the variety that nature presented. Once again, my camera did a more than adequate job of capturing what I was seeing. It did fail me in capturing the red blinking lights of the windmills after dark. They blinked in unison but my camera lag was too slow to show off all the lights. You can’t always get what you want.
She’s iconic. You see her for free if you ride the Staten Island ferry. Free. The ride is free. Just show up. There’s the usual crowd (mostly commuters). So, there is plenty of room at the rail. We did it. I had business in the city. It’s a grand ride. I wish it weren’t business. When you fly over her the pilots all refer to her as “The Lady.” Yup, that would be about right.
Read the book; it’s hilarious. My kids loved it. It rained recently. It seemed like it had been raining for days. We had been on an extended road trip. Don’t ask. (I’m not telling anyway.) I am sorry to say but not ashamed to admit that I shoot as I drive. Point and shoot. Really. I don’t do much more than point and press the shutter. I do have some experience at this. So I get what I want (mostly). You can’t stop too often. ….gotta get there.
I’m on the move this week. Forgot to post in advance. There is some great and grand weather in the Midwest. It’s a few days after the election. I’m still shocked and surprised. I’ll begin to post again in the next few days as time permits. Meanwhile I’d prefer to keep my thoughts to myself. For change it might be better to follow the adage: “if you have nothing nice to say…” So, let’s just talk about the weather.
There’s weather again. Seasons! Rain! Yes! After four years of scorching sun and no rain, I’m back and with someone who obsesses over the weather forecast. It’s refreshing to factor in the weather into my plans. I nearly did not make the flight. The luggage story was the end. That was pretty much the prelude to closing the plane doors. In order to leave there is a list: plane ticket, exit visa, close your bank account, turn off your phone, hand in your work card – iqama. There is a dance. It’s choreographed so that the steps are defined. The exit visa and ticket are last. You get a ticket after you have a visa. You need to hand in your iqama to get your visa. But you need the iqama at the bank to take your money. Read slowly. You mess up and you are not leaving. Before that the hospital has its own list and each item requires a signature and a stamp. Yes! A stamp! Go figure: the mailroom, the library, security, etc., etc. Finally, there is a survey: did you enjoy your stay, and would you come back to work? I guess the wrong answer and you stay longer. Say nothing, do nothing to rock the boat. Of course, it was great. “Frosted flakes!!”
Can I make this story short? Yes, I got out. Stop reading here.
No one tells you the exact sequence. You sort of puzzle things out. There is an end of service pay mandated by the government. Calculations are made. Then the money is transferred to your bank account. The first week was haj – September 9 to 14. Banks and the government are closed. Don’t ask. Shutdown, closed, just stopped for five days plus the weekend on either end. I dove. Nice. I was on paid leave. Ok, but I’d rather have been home.
The new Saudi week starts on Sunday. I have till Friday to complete business and get on the plane. Monday – maybe the money will be in by Wednesday. It’s close but doable. Monday, the travel office tried to give me a ticket for Friday. Nope, no final exit visa. That comes after the bank is closed. Tuesday waiting. I went to stare at the finance lady who said Wednesday maybe Thursday. No! It has to be Wednesday! I received a helpless smile. She said she was trying. Wednesday morning, the ticket office called me in to take a ticket for Friday. They could not wait longer or it would be next week. Is it a joke? Finance says that they need a signature from housing. What! WTF! I already have all my stamps and signatures! Sorry, it won’t take long. Surreal? I need an entry exit visa. Get that and then transfer money from Saudi to NY by internet banking. Nope! I have to take a final exit visa. Rules! Shit. No bending the rules! I went up the line to the Deputy CEO. He mumbled that something would be done. So far, nada, nothing! It’s noon. I had just come from the bank. They were kind enough to volunteer that Thursday was Saudi National Day! That is the equivalent of Fourth of July here. No government or banking – it’s a national holiday! You’re kidding right!? At that moment, my money from the hospital hits the bank and I receive the text message. I cannot get to and from the bank in time for the government office to go and get an exit visa. There’s not enough time. Before a holiday everyone quits early. Does this country function? Not like anywhere normal, for sure! Solution? There’s a bank near the hospital. I rush over, break traffic laws, run red lights, cut off other cars and get there to the sound of the local mosques blaring out “prayer time.” Closed for 40 minutes, I was screwed! Sure enough the doors were locked and I was out of luck. Shit! An old Saudi man came and pounded the door. He was not waiting. I followed him in the back door. Cheated one more time. I had to check off a box for withdrawing so much money. “Which works?” I asked the teller.
“Medical,” he said. I figured, “mental” by way of insanity worked for me. Back to the hospital. Sami, government relations shook his head. Maybe, maybe not. What did he care? He was not staying an extra week. But… after a long pause on the phone several hours later… he reported… success! Visa, bank, ticket – done. Priceless! My phone is still not settled. The never did cut off my internet when they threatened. The bill is unpaid. I’m in the US and receive Arabic texts about my bill. Can’t read ‘em. Don’t need ‘em. Hey! I got weather again!
You want weather? I saw weather. Unfortunately, I cannot demonstrate here how absolutely breathtaking it was to drive through. It was dusk. The rain all day lifted enough so that there was no fog at all. The air was crisp and cool. Moist. The sun peeked in from the right and shone under and against the clouds. How special? People were stopping to get photos with their smartphones. We got a full rainbow. I can only show you half.
The clouds were changing rapidly. The light was fantastic but only for a few fleeting moments. Free show! And then it was gone. The clouds were so ephemeral. Storm clouds were still gray with rain to my left. It was nature at its most awesome. Enjoy the show. I wish you were there.