Believe it or not, it is an addiction to me. I might be very busy with my work and studies, and might not be able to spare any time for any hobby. But still, when it starts, it continues and it becomes uncontrollable. It is the craving to take pictures and see the results. That is what has happened last month. I wanted to completely stop taking pictures for sometime. At least until I finish my graduate program. But when we went to see all the waterfalls’ along Columbia River gorge in Oregon, I could not stop and I took some pictures. My addiction to photography is so strong that I still do it in the traditional way. I use a manual focus camera, film and tripod. I get the film developed, scan the slides myself and post them on the web. I know that it is an addiction, but I think it is a good addiction!
August 26, 2007
July 21, 2007
October 8, 2006
Boardman,OH to Seattle,WA
5 Days and 2652 Miles
The world is vast, wide and wonderful. Limiting ourselves to Boardman for over three years of our lifetime didn’t seem right. There is a lot more world to see and explore and there are many things we can do, than what we did in Boardman. To do more, we need to learn more. So, I decided to go back to school (college/university).
And then, we started our longest drive ever. I left for Seattle with Indira, Kittaya and our faithful 1997 Camry on the morning of Wednesday, the 6th September 2006. We had a detailed and clear plan for our travel. We knew how long we were going to travel each day and where we were going to stop for the night. We had made all our reservations for the hotels and verified with the hotels before we started the journey. We were excited and also a little nervous about our move. I was totally comfortable about the plan we made for the trip, because I knew how the drive was going to be and how I would cover it. My only concern was Kittaya, because this was his first long drive.
We headed out on the Wednesday morning from Boardman in our car and with Annamayya Keerthanalu sung by M.S.Subbulakshmi playing in the car stereo. Whenever we go on a long drive, we start with these keerthanalu. These spiritual songs with extraordinary voice of M S and the melodious music always gave us a great start. The car was fully loaded, but we had sufficient space for Kittaya and his carrier. We had planned to reach Madison, WI by the end of day. Journey was very smooth until we reached the city limits of Chicago. If you have ever traveled to the city you would know how the traffic would be. We spent about two hours just to cross the city, and even with this delay were able to reach our hotel in Madison before sunset. We were traveling west and hence we were gaining time. That was an advantage.
When we reached Madison, one thing was obvious. We had packed too much stuff in our car. So, we went to an Office Depot near the hotel and took few things out of the car, put them in a big box and shipped them to our new address in Seattle. Most of those items we shipped were large comforters, pillows, etc. After clearing these items, we felt more comfortable in the car and Kittaya had more space to move around. We had our lease application approved and had already paid a holding deposit for an apartment in Seattle and hence we were able to ship the box to the new address.
We stayed in hotels at Sioux Falls in South Dakota, Sheridan in Wyoming, Missoula in Montana and on the last day in Bellevue, Washington. When we reached our destination at the end of fifth day, trip meter in the car read 2652 and the odometer reading was 112539 miles.
On the morning of the sixth day, which was September 11, 2006, we went to the apartments’ office and had a tour of the unit and the building. We liked the location and the unit, and signed a lease agreement. There we were, in our new home in Seattle.
Kittaya was the first to get settled in the new place. I think he knew instinctively that we had reached our destination. For us it took about two weeks to unpack, arrange and settle comfortably.
The landscape was spectacular and the drive was nice. The never ending corn fields in Wisconsin, open planes in South Dakota, wild west scenery in Wyoming, the mountains and creeks in Montana - all are just spectacular. During our travel we had told ourselves at least a hundred times, “we have to come back and explore all these places leisurely”. During our trip we crossed mighty Mississippi and Columbia rivers. We also visited Mt.Rushmore and enjoyed the short drive off of the highway.
View from Our New Apartment
I must say that the drive was an experience we will remember for ever.
Few things we followed during our trip:
1. Food - Limited to healthy selections, like salads, fruits and Subway (a fast food restaurant chain in USA) veggie sandwiches without cheese, etc. Particularly for breakfast and lunch, didn’t eat oily or greasy food items. Took a couple of bread slices or an English muffin with little butter, coffee and a fruit for breakfast.
2. Driving Speed - Kept at the posted speed limit or few miles below the limit. I maintained a constant speed of 65 mph almost all of the time. At this speed I got the best mileage possible (32 mpg - overall) and most importantly there was less strain on us and on the car.
3. Kittaya, the Cat - I took our Kittaya for a drive every day, for about ten days before the journey. I took him in the car and drove him around for about 15 to 20 minutes. By doing this, he got used to the car well and he was not surprised to stay in the car.
4. Start Early - We started early in the morning, around 7 O’ clock each day. We were getting up early, eating breakfast and hitting the road. By doing this, we were able to reach our destinations before sunset comfortably. Start early and reach safely!
February 28, 2006
During last March, on one of those bitter cold snowy days, a strange cat walked into our kitchen. Though it was very dirty, it wasn’t a usual cat. It had a lot of hair and beautiful long tail. Our neighbor has two cats, but this wasn’t one of those. We thought it was somebody’s cat in the neighborhood, who didn’t take good care of it. It looked around for a minute and went away. Couple of days later it appeared again. It looked like it was looking for something. We again thought that it was somebody’s cat in the neighborhood and we didn’t pay much attention to it. Truthfully, we wanted to send it out of our house.
After another few days, he appeared again on our deck and he had a wound on his tail. Then, we learned some details about him from the kids next-door. They told us that he was an abandoned cat and our neighbor, Lina (who already had two cats) had been taking care of him for a couple of days. We felt sorry that he was wounded, but we didn’t pay much attention to him even at that time. We didn’t pay much attention to him, but he started paying attention to us. He kept coming back to our house everyday. The other two cats of our neighbor never entered our house, though they came sat on our deck sometimes. But, this one would come in and walk around the house, would come to us and would look in the eyes. He made us notice him with his beautiful looks. He was a young cat, may be 4 or 5 months old.
The wound he had on his tail gotten worse. He was with Lina, the neighbor, at that time. She took him to the vet and had a bandage put on his tail. Few days had passed. By this time he was living between our house and our neighbor’s house. He was spending couple of days here and couple of days there. We were applying the ointment and changing the dressing on his tail regularly, but it didn’t help much. The wound didn’t heal and he had lost all the hair on his tail. But he was happy. He was very playful and was engaging us a lot with his acts. Lina took him to the vet and he suggested using the medicine for few more days. He also said that if it wouldn’t improve we would have to remove his tail. We waited few more days, the situation did not get better and the wound was spreading up the tail to the body.
One day, Lina said she was going to take him to the vet to get him examined again. That was early spring, sunny clear afternoon. We were waiting for her to come back from the vet. We saw her parking her car and I went to her. Her looks were sad. She said “guess what happened”. I didn’t say anything. She said “he had his tail removed” and I could see tears in her eyes. She took him out of the basket and I can never forget his looks at that time. Poor kitty was crying just like how we’d do and was moaning from pain. He had such a gorgeous, long tail and all of it was amputated except one and half inches tail with a bandage around. He had about one and half foot long tail before. He was so cute and playful. We were very sad to see him crying like that. Lina had him in her house for about a week. He didn’t eat or play well. He was just lying quiet. Slowly he recovered and came back to his full energy.
We knew that Lina was going through some tough times and we offered her to pay for all the vet’s expenses. We didn’t think that it was an expense; we just wanted to do it.
This is how it all started and once he recovered, he was spending more time in our house. He is the little prince in our house, unlike Lina’s where he had to compete with two other cats for attention. Lina also understood that we liked him a lot and offered us to adopt him. We wouldn’t have gotten him if it wasn’t for Lina. She also taught us how to take care of this beautiful, playful, little darling. We always thank her for all her help.
Lot of things have happened during the past one year. Now we understand each other’s language. He mews differently for different reasons. I can now understand whether he is asking for more food or for going out or for playing with him. He is also the same way. He can understand whether we are talking about him or talking to him. Which means the communication gap is not there any more between us. More than anything, we love him dearly and he is now a part of the family.