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The Traveling Cats Tour: Blaine rain, sunrises, job hunting and it’s time to go.

October 31, 2014
Blaine harbor 2014

Blaine harbor 2014

So, I’m in Blaine still and have discovered that it has 3 states of rain; pelting, biblical and off. Off is broken until June 2015 though. I’ve been here 3 weeks and it’s been sunny 5 days. The rest of the time we’ve had rain, pouring rain, wind, pouring rain with wind and all variation in between. I’m already over rain and it’s only the end of October. That usually doesn’t  happen until February or March! But I’ve been in the Northwest pretty much all of my life so it’s not all that annoying. Sort of. The only good part of all these storms is that the sunrises are often pretty damn good….

I’ve never been an early riser and, before I came to Blaine, I’d shot exactly 2 sunrises. Ever. And those were only because I couldn’t sleep the night before. I’ve shot 3 of them here and loved every minute of it! There’s this great field at the end of the street where I’m staying that faces east and has Mt Baker and Mt Shuksan in view as well. Here’s what I’m talking about DSC_4112_10-27-14_Blaine

Nice huh? I have a bunch more photos to edit that shows the mountains etc but have other things more important to do right now …..

I’ve started that ugly business of job hunting. Ugh. I banged out a basic resume and sent 5 email applications off already today. I hate job hunting and all that goes along with it. The interview gives me hives and the waiting to hear back causes sleep loss. Not to mention the arrogance that often accompanies the interview process. I hate it when an interviewer insists that I list 3 of my best and worst qualities. I always want to say “my ability to control my homicidal urges, the fact that I can be around stupid people and maintain a compassionate attitude and having gotten over the urge to be armed at all times” then “poor impulse control, lack of patience with idiocy and procrastination when it comes to things like hiding the evidence/bodies” I never say things like that in an interview though cuz I really do want to get the job. Sad but necessary.  Speaking of job interviews ….

It’s time for me to take the Canadian plunge and get going. I only have 2 more things in the mail to wait for so I’m looking at Monday or Tuesday as likely departure days. I’m so sad to be leaving my friend Monica’s home. I feel like one of the family which is pretty amazing when you consider that we hadn’t ever met  before 10-5-14!!! I’ve taken over quite a bit of the housework as sort of rent payment and I’ll be sad to know that she has to take that back up. She works 3 jobs as well as teaching ESL online until the wee hours of the morning 3 times a week and it’s been a bit of a break for her not to have to do all of the housework and meal preparation. And I’ll miss doing it too! The cats will be even more cranky now after we get going because I’m afraid our ‘comfortable’ time is over. Once I get over the border, I’ll be staying on some property where I won’t have bathroom privileges or electricity (probably). We’ll really be roughing it then after being so spoiled for so long. But, I see that as motivation to get a job ASAP!

So, that’s were things stand right now. I have some things that may bear artistic fruit in the works but payment for those will be a future thing even if they work out right away. I’m still plugging away at ways to make a living, or semi-living, at photography but I suspect I’ll need a day job for quite some time to come. Sad.

Thanks for dropping by and I’ll see you next time.

Donna

and the 3 cranky cats on the Traveling Cats Tour

BTW .. I was going back through my night shoot with Eddie Murdock and Carl Nickerson in Anacortes right before I left for Blaine and found some gems I overlooked before!

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Nice huh?

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The Traveling Cats Tour: Kidney stones, mental stress, Anacortes, Blaine, here I am.

October 16, 2014

[/caption]DSC_0037The Peace Arch at the Blaine border crossing

You know the saying “Time flies when you’re having fun”? The same applies to when you’re not sometimes. I was amazed and a bit dismayed when I saw how long it had been since my last entry here! Life has been a bit too interesting lately …

I have kidney stones. Ugh. While I was staying with my good friend Mike and his family in Kent, WA at the beginning of this journey, I had a kidney stone pass. I ended up in the ER at 4AM begging for pain meds to combat the worst pain I’ve ever had. I’m not one to take a lot of pain meds but I took the full maximum dosage for the 2 days after my ER visit. The CT scan showed that I have more stones in both kidneys so I have to make sure I stay well hydrated and avoid high calcium, sodium and acidic foods and beverages. Not all that hard really since I’m financially challenged. That’s the hardest part of this situation …

While I was staying in Kent trying to get my head together enough to start this northward journey, I found myself obsessing over all the things that could go wrong and how impossible it would be to overcome them with the extremely limited money I have. I played out scenario after scenario of devastating illnesses, car wrecks, cat illnesses, break-ins, towing, getting stranded on deserted highways in Canada etc etc etc. I drove myself crazy. I would cry in the middle of the night after waking from a dead sleep with my heart pounding and my thoughts racing. I was on the brink of panic attacks all the time but, oddly enough, it was after I took the plunge and left my safe haven in Kent and got on the road to Kirkland, my next stop, that all that quieted down a bit. Strange, since I was now on my way to the scary unknown. I think just making that final commitment to the journey was what helped me get my head together. And so we come to Kirkland …

This little lake is very close to Heather's house and made for some epic reflection shots!

This little lake is very close to Heather’s house and made for some epic reflection shots!

My friend Heather Dutra is an amazing woman! She’s an Aussie with 2 kids, a husband who works for Microsoft and a beautiful house in the woods. Top that off with the fact that she’s a brilliant photographer and you have Heather! It was a bit unnerving at first to stay in an area so quiet after living by the airport for so many years. I had to keep a fan on just for noise LOL Thing were going along nicely and we were looking forward to more shooting together when the worst thing possible happened. Her husband is deathly allergic to cats and I mean deathly. Not just the sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes kind of allergic but the throat swelling, asthma attack kind. He was taking his mother to the airport to send her on her way back to Boston when it hit him. He called Heather and told her about it and she immediately came out to tell me that all the cat hair on me was too much for him and I’d have to leave in the morning. So off I went the next day on my way to Anacortes …

This shot was taken from Cap Sante just after sunset.

This shot was taken from Cap Sante just after sunset.

I love my friend Eddie Murdock and his family! His wife Mandy and I were instant friends and I was so happy to see his 16 year old daughter Zoe again and meet his 7 year old daughter Ava. Meeting Mandy’s son Avery was an unexpected bonus and pleasure! Such a great kid! I got there in the evening and parked behind the pop-up camper (which would be my home for the next week and a half) and felt immediately at home. We all slept in the truck the first couple of nights until I figured out how long we would stay and then moved into the camper lock, stock and 3 (still cranky) cats. It was really wonderful to have so much room! Until the wind storms hit. The camper walls would ‘breathe’ these huge breaths and I could hear the next gust coming to us like a freight train! The cats were scared and so was I a couple of time. I thought we were going to end up in Kansas! Or at least the hospital when the camper blew over! But we survived all 3 of the storms.

Shooting in Anacortes is amazing! I got to run around with Marianne Stickles, who I love dearly, and see her incredible home. Mandy and I went over for dinner one night and wandered around the house for a bit. All local woods, local beach pebble inlay floor in the kitchen, a flying buttress office overlooking the living room, maze-like entrances and exits through the bathrooms and a view that’s worth the entire asking price of house. I couldn’t believe that they want to sell it but it’s the old story of ‘now our house is too big since it’s only the 2 of us’ story. The asking price is $1.2 million! Yup, you heard it right. And it’s worth every penny or even more with the beautiful grounds and view! Marianne and I went to Oak Harbor and stopped at several places along the way including the Deception Pass bridge which is awe inspiring even if the day was cloudy and gray! I need to go back and do a bunch more shooting there after I get myself all squared away in Canada. It was a totally perfect day though. Marianne knows all the backroads and took me to places where I swear I heard the Deliverance banjo opening in the wind LOL And then I discovered Washington Park …

This is the view of Sunset Beach from the beginning of the loop that goes around Washington Park.

This is the view of Sunset Beach from the beginning of the loop that goes around Washington Park.

Washington Park is brilliant! There are dozens of trails and little beaches to explore and it’s one big wooded wonderland! I finally got a photo of my nemesis bird there, the Northern Flicker. Apparently none of his southern cousins sent him the memo about not letting me get a clear shot of any of them LOL I went and walked the entire loop once and then went back and hiked the bluff trail. I’m seriously out of shape! I definitely need to do more walking! (And I have been) One of the reasons I stayed so long in Anacortes was the Oyster Run. You gotta see it to believe it! The estimated number of motorcycles that passed through town that day was upwards of 25,000! Yup 25K! I shot from the beginning of the main way into town for a couple of hours before heading down to shoot the mayhem, er I mean celebrations in downtown. What a wonderful day of shooting! Great weather, motorcycles and a bunch of old guys that were easy on the eyes LOL

One of my favorite shots taken during the Oyster Run.

One of my favorite shots taken during the Oyster Run.

Then Eddie, Carl Nickerson and I went night shooting …

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But more about that in the next post.

So that brings you up to date with what’s happened since I left Kent, WA and the Gardner family. I’m in Blaine now staying with my friend Monica and her son and having a wonderful time! Or at least I was until the biblical deluge a couple of nights ago. I have leaks. I was supposed to be on my way to Abbotsford today but I have to stay and fix them before real winter hits.

I know this was a lot to read and I thank you for hangin’ in there. I’ll try to keep up with this better now that I’m more settled in my head about becoming Canadian again. Things to look forward to hearing about in the posts to come … night shooting with Eddie and Carl, monsters in the dark, I’m not afraid to put it all out there (on the bridge), mushroom hunting and what happens soon. 😀

I went here! At night! Alone! (Eddie and Carl weren't going anywhere near it!) I went here! At night! Alone! (Eddie and Carl weren’t going anywhere near it!)

Thanks for visiting my crazy life,

Donna
Donna Read Visions
The Traveling Cats Tour

The Traveling Cats Tour: I don’t have time for this cold, 9 days til move-in day, gas prices and an impending milestone birthday

August 20, 2014

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So, I know I haven’t been here for a couple of weeks but I’ve been sick with this stupid cold. It’s not bad enough that I was sick enough to stay in bed for a week and a half but it it still hanging on big time! Lots of coughing and hacking, especially at night. Why do we cough more at night anyway?

I only have 9 days left to get the truck set up to live in. I haven’t done near as much as I should have at this point though. The 10 days I was in bed really put me behind so now I’m scrambling. Add to that my Masters in Procrastination and you have a recipe for a lot of unnecessary stress. I’m trying to get on top of it though. This week is take-the-cats-to-the-vet week. And get the old guy shaved. Betty will get the finishing bath and I’ll get rid of the useless tool box sitting in the back as well as laying down plywood to keep us off of the metal truck bed. I designed and bought the materials for a lock to put on the back window of the canopy since it won’t even latch nevermind lock. I definitely got ripped off with this thing but I was panicking thinking I would be out of the apartment by the end of July. I decided to stay as long as I can though and let them take legal action to get me out. I really need the extra time and I’m glad I did! I would be in so much worse shape if I’d gotten sick on the road. Speaking of the road….

Here in the US, people lose their minds about gas prices but I can imagine that the gas prices in Canada make Canadians psychotic! I suppose that paying by the litre helps fool the brain into thinking that it’s not really that bad but $5.00 a gallon (or more) is $5.00 a gallon no matter what you call it. I’ve definitely changed the game plan for when I get there. I’ll be lucky to have enough money to fill up twice! And at 10mpg, I’ll be findng alternative modes of transportation! I hope busing is as good there as it is here in Seattle! 

I have a huge birthday coming up in 6 days. 60! I’m more surprised than anyone! First that I’ve lived this long (I’ve been pretty stupid about my life in the past) and that I’ve been alive this long! I sure don’t feel it! Okay, well some mornings I feel even older but that’s not all the time. I’m hoping to do a photo shoot up in Edmonds for a party. We’ll see though. I’ve tried to have a birthday party twice in my life so far and neither one turned out well. The first one, no one came to and the second one, well..no one came to that either except my roommates and a few of their friends that came out of pity. I haven’t tried again since my 50th. I don’t have much luck with parties apparently. Or I’ve had the wrong friends in the past. I don’t have that problem anymore though. I have the best friends a person could want. Finally. I haven’t had a very good track record choosing my friends up til now. Maybe I’ve finally grown up a bit and can see the difference between people I hang out with and real friends. I think that’s the case. I love my friends. 

Now that I’ve lost internet at home, I’ll be writing this from wifi locations so nobody panic if you don’t see me here or on Facebook very often. Everything’s fine (so far) and I’m surviving this. Struggling, definitely, but surviving and staying fairly strong. 

See you next time and thanks for stopping  by. 

Donna

The Traveling Cats Tour

 

The Traveling Cats Tour: Most brilliant freakin’ sunset ever, best party ever and I’ve made a huge mistake!.

August 3, 2014
I was shooting a party on a mid-level rooftop in downtown Seattle last night and this was the sunset! Words fail me!

I was shooting a party on a mid-level rooftop in downtown Seattle last night and this was the sunset! Words fail me!

I have never seen a sunset like the one we had here in Seattle last night! It was more like a sunrise in reverse! The crepuscular rays were shooting upwards across the sky and showed for such a distance, my 18mm lens range wasn’t wide enough to take it all in! Also, I was in a position where my field of vision was limited by city buildings. I would love to have been out on the Jose Rizal bridge or, even better, on the SkyView deck of the Columbia Center! But I was at the best party ever…

I volunteered to shoot a masquerade/fashion show party on the mid-level rooftop of the Via6 apartments in downtown Seattle. If you ever want to live in downtown Seattle and have a pretty good chunk of change to work with, this is for you! Great design, brilliant party area with indoor areas equipped with wet bars, wonderful outdoor lounge areas with a 360* walkway with views of the city and Lake Union (sadly that’s almost occluded by new development though), key card elevators, lobby security, underground parking and, wait for it, a full service cafeteria (but really high end offerings) and lounge/gathering areas on the lobby level! Very impressive! Funny story, I met this wonderful, kind man named Daniel while I was waiting for the fashion show to start who told me that he owned Via6. The building! My brain automatically went into yeah-right-and-I’m-Ansel-freakin-Adams-in-drag mode. But the more we talked and the more I paid attention to how others interacted to him, my brain went into OMG-he’s-for-real mode. And right after that it told me to NOT mention I’m homeless! Too opportunistic. Sigh. I hate it when I have integrity sometimes. Why was this the best party ever? Well…

I expected a bunch of snobby well-off to rich people prancing around in designer wear and expensive accessories at this party. Granted, there were some well-off to rich people there in designer wear and expensive accessories but none of them pranced around and everyone, I mean everyone, was a joy to meet! Not sure why but I was treated like royalty! People who didn’t even know me were making a point of meeting me after awhile! Maybe it was because I didn’t take any shots of the guests without asking first or maybe it was because I looked like I knew people! I dunno. What’s funny is how ‘small world’ this party was! The first people I ran into were 2 photographers that I haven’t seen in almost 2 years! Great guys! And then I ran into Revv O’Hare, Shannon Lind and the brilliant designer Madison Adrianna Leiren of Leiren designs, all of whom I know from the Chance Fashion shows! I also met a seriously cool DJ named Damen Draeko who is a friend of Rob Martini’s who usually DJ’s for Chance Fashion shows! What a bonus to an already fantastic night! The fashion show was good too even though it started really late and I was starving! Dresses, lingerie…you know, the usual. 😉 The after-party, not so much. Very loud and ‘young’. Us old-timers (Kevin, Richard and I) only lasted about 20 minutes and about a half dozen photos before we opted out. It seems we’ve all outgrown our clubbing days! LOL

I have made a huge mistake! I set up my party/benefit for August 23rd and that’s the night of the AMDEF Mash-up where almost everyone I’d like to see at there will be. I hate to change the date of mine because the people who have already said they’d be there might not be able to change their plans. Sigh. I just wasn’t thinking when I decided to make that last ditch effort to raise funds and resources. Now I’m really worried. Interesting thing I’ve noticed .. people don’t seem to respond to the needs of the individual anymore. They have no qualms about donating to organizations who take a cut of the proceeds but balk at the thought of helping someone who has just as great a need but isn’t sponsored by an agency or charity group. I guess too many people have been scammed out of too much and no one trusts an ‘unsponsored’ individual anymore. It makes my fundraising attempts fairly unsuccessful but I get it. And I kick myself whenever I start to have bitter thoughts about it. It’s no one’s responsibility to take care of me but my own. Speaking of which … totally self-serving moment in 3,2,1…

Here is the link to my party if you are in the Seattle/PNW area and would like to come. A donation of money or resources is NOT a requirement. It’s also my good-bye and birthday party so all are invited and welcomed! http://www.meetup.com/Seattle-Photography-Club/events/197397102/ and here is the link to my gofundme.com account and PayPal if you would like to help with donations but can’t make it to the party:
Paypal is donnaread50@aol.com
Gofundme.com is http://www.gofundme.com/8v91b0

A huge heartfelt thank you to all my wonderful friends who have donated already and made setting up my truck to live in a little easier. You are loved.

So, that was last night. I’m glad I went and I’m super glad I didn’t drive downtown! Seafair mayhem and Fleet Week all at the same time equals craziness and zero parking! And the 10mpg makes me make responsible and practical decisions.

Thanks for dropping by and see you next time.

Donna
The Traveling Cats Tour

The Traveling Cats Tour: Betty gets a bath, panic attacks suck and yes, I have bad days.

July 31, 2014

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So, everyone is amazed that I have such a positive attitude about all of this. So am I most of the time! I have bad days though and the past couple of days have definitely been hard. As it gets closer to the time when I’ll actually be living in the truck with the cats, I’m beginning to doubt that I can do this. Not in the sense that I want to give up and abandon all of my stuff instead of just the extraneous, including the cats, but my anxiety gets so bad I can’t function. I haven’t been able to leave the house in two days and I don’t have that luxury anymore. Today, however, I got up and forced myself to get out and get things done!

Betty had a bath today. Not a perfect one but she already looks less like an abandoned truck and more like a funky old lady. Kind of like me! Tomorrow I’m taking her back to the U-wash and giving her a final scrub by hand to get the stubborn grime off of her and the canopy. One bad thing I found out while sitting in the car wash is that she has leaks. The window seals are all brittle and broken so water comes streaming in the wing windows and the top of the driver’s side window. Bad. Not sure what to do about it though. I think I’ll ask the body shop at the end of the alley if there’s something I can do. They’re a great bunch of guys!

Panic attacks suck. Hate em. Nuf said.

I’m starting to get RSVP’s to the party on the 23rd. Not many yet but it’s still just under a month away. What I haven’t said in the description of what it’s for is that it’s also 3 days before my 60th birthday! I know right!! When did this happen? Last I checked I was 50. Ish. Okay, 55. Or 58ish. Sigh. I’m going to be 60. What a freakin’ miracle that is! LOL If you live in the Seattle/PNW area, please feel free to drop by and say hi! A donation is not mandatory and photographers are a fun bunch to be around! http://www.meetup.com/Seattle-Photography-Club/events/197397102/i3/fbsd_event_details?gj=fbsd_ed&rv=fbsd_ed&from_fb=true

Tomorrow is the start of deciding how to pack the truck. It should only take me 40 or 50 times of packing and unpacking to get it figured out! LOL It’s an OCD thing.

More on the packing saga (and it will be!) next time.

See you next time and thanks for dropping by!

Donna
The Traveling Cats Tour

A Foot from the Door — (Short Story)

July 28, 2014

This is good! Nice lead up to the end! Easy read.

The Traveling Cats Tour: A canopy is on, the wonderful thing I’m participating in and a PARTY!!

July 27, 2014
It was a beautiful day to travel over to the peninsula for the trip to Shelton to get the canopy.

It was a beautiful day to travel over to the peninsula for the trip to Shelton to get the canopy.

I know I’ve been teasing you with mentions of the wonderful thing I’m participating in so ….

I’ve been in touch with the most remarkable and strong woman ever! I found her post on FaceBook last year about her mission to help families whose children have committed suicide and what she wants to do to remember her 20 year old son who killed himself. She is sending tiny bits of his ashes to be scattered in places he would have loved to visit. His dream was to travel and find adventure but his demons got the best of him before he could do any of those things. She decided to do this as a way of making all of us mindful of how lucky we are to do all of the things, both everyday and extraordinary, we do without thinking. I will be taking a small vial of his ashes with me on my journey and will scatter them on the kite surfing beach that feels perfect for him. I haven’t decided which one yet, it’s a toss up between Jetty Island, WA or one of the Canadian beaches but I know the beach will speak to me and ask for him to make it his home. I feel so honored to be a part of this process. You can read about all the places he’s been taken to at https://www.facebook.com/scatteringcj/info (If you have a loved one or pet that you would like me to do this with, please send me an email at donnaread50@aol.com I will send you photos and a blog entry will be dedicated to the moment)

Here’s where I am on my efforts to get ready to make that trip …

So…the canopy finding saga is over! I have the canopy and Betty now has a bonnet. It’s not great or new or even all that functional (the back window struts don’t work and it’s a bit beat up) but it fits and it has a rear window boot that allows the cats to come and go as they wish. That way I can put the cage together and put it in the back for them to chill in while I’m out of the truck or getting the camp set up. One thing down, a gazillion others to worry about..

Today is a really bad day emotionally. It’s been an uphill struggle to get all the things I need to survive and I need so much more. I’ve set up an event for August 23rd at Gas Works Park in Seattle to try and raise money and get donations of things like cat food, litter, camping supplies, non-perishable food items, personal toiletry items and gift cards for gas and emergency purchases at Amazon while I’m on the road. Here’s the link if you’re in the area or are going to be. Everyone is invited regardless of their ability to donate. I just want to spend my last day here in the US with the people I love .. Photographers. Oh, and my friends too. lol http://www.meetup.com/Seattle-Photography-Club/events/197397102/i3/fbsd_event_details?gj=fbsd_ed&rv=fbsd_ed&from_fb=true If you would like to participate some other way, please email me at donnaread50@aol.com.

I’m exhausted from all of this. I took today to play and nap but I’ve been working at finding resources and funding all day. I didn’t mean to but I just can’t seem to relax and enjoy the day. I’m off to Jetty Island tomorrow to meet up with the my good friend Roberto Soza to discuss stills and creative ideas for the kite surfing video I’m helping him with. It’s a non-profit venture but it could lead to other things… Just like everything else I’m doing but all things photography are such labors of love I just can’t resist. But before I go ….

Betty and her bonnet need a serious scrubbing! Hitting the U-wash tomorrow on my way to the island. Hours before. She’s a really dirty girl! Kind of like me but I don’t talk about that 😉

So that’s where I am in this saga.
Thanks for dropping by and stay tuned for Packing: The Horror!

Donna
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The Traveling Cats Tour

The Traveling Cats Tour: A day of terrifying firsts and what I learned.

July 26, 2014

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Yesterday was a bit of a scream! And not the fun kind. I had to drive Betty to lunch in the city cuz there was no parking at all at the Lite Rail station! None! I hate driving in the city. A lot! But it wasn’t too bad surprisingly enough. I’ve driven in downtown Seattle exactly 2 times counting yesterday. First time made me cry (it was 25 years ago and I wasn’t medicated yet. Another story) but yesterday just made me curse. A LOT! Why did I go knowing how much I would hate it? Well …..

I had lunch with the funniest, most compassionate man I’ve met in a very long time. His name is Pablo Gerber and I can’t wait to meet his girlfriend Natalie. I’ll be going on some photo safaris with them both before I leave and I am really looking forward to it. They want to learn how to shoot a few things and I love teaching so it’s a match made in photography heaven! He also bought a print of mine for which I am so grateful. The auction didn’t bring in as much as I’d hoped but I did get a couple of private sales out of it. Pablo and I discussed ideas about marketing and offering lessons but I don’t have much time left here so it’s kind of a moot point. Unless I can generate some students wherever I go. I’ll still know how to shoot LOL After I left Pablo, I headed up to Kirkland for a Lightroom class. What a trip that was!

I got on the freeway to go to the class and it wasn’t all bad. I just got in a neutral middle lane and stayed there. And went zipping past the exit that Google Navigate didn’t mention. When I saw the exits for Everett, I knew I was in trouble so I got off the freeway and stopped at a gas station to get a soda. When I checked with MapQuest instead of the Navigator, there was the exit I should have taken clearly marked! Guess which one I’ll be using on the road! So I got back on the freeway, found the exit, used it easily (which is not always the case here. some exits are a bitch to navigate!) and got headed in the right direction. Since I’m not comfortable driving at high speeds yet, I tucked in behind a camper and stayed there until my exit came up. That’s when the fun started ….

Even though the streets were clearly marked, I had no way to tell that the street I wanted wasn’t a main street. It wasn’t even a decently marked residential street! It was more like a driveway leading to the place where the class was taking place. I drove around in circles for an hour trying to find it. Did I mention that Betty only gets 10 miles to the gallon? Sigh. A quarter tank later I was driving by this ‘street’ for about the 12th time and saw the tiny street sign. Finally! I’m so glad I did! The class was amazing …

Levi Sim taught the Lightroom class offered through NW Lens and Photofocus.com. He is an entertaining, engaging instructor who’s style is so comfortable and simple, you pay attention through the entire 3 hours. It actually went 3.5 hours because he started playing with some photos to show us a few more advanced functions. I learned a ton! The class started with the basics right from the minute you open Lightroom! Exactly where I needed to start. I have edited exactly 1 photo using it and I plan on editing thousands more with it! After I get more comfortable with it, my workflow will be so much more streamlined! Learning curve engaged! I did have one dark moment during my trip though …

Betty needs a new tail pipe. I need a shop that will be charitable. Sigh. Not many of them around but I take really good photos of cars (I shoot them like the beautiful ladies they are and the love shows!) so I can offer website shots or beauty shots for their customers for free. I’m hoping that the contacts I made at the Patron’s Car Show this month can help me find a shop that will do it. I discovered this need after I got lost and stopped in Everett yesterday. I came out of the mini-mart after buying a soda and saw that the tailpipe was hanging down almost to the ground! No wonder everyone on the road stayed so far back! I did kinda wonder about that! I had some old rubber bungee cords in the truck so I used all of them to get them there and back. Going to use a wire coat hanger today because I have an exciting day ahead of me…

I am going to pick up my canopy that my dear friend Steven Rosenow found me. The catch is that I have to go to Shelton to get it! That involves a trip to the city again (ugh) and getting on a ferry. First time driving on a ferry ever! Very exciting! Filling the gas tank to get there .. not so much lol

So that was yesterday and today I’m attempting a couple more firsts. How cool is that?

More about my trip to Shelton today later. Thanks for dropping by and we’ll see you next time. I still haven’t told you the wonderful thing I’ve been asked to do!

Donna
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Traveling Cats Tour: The quest for the elusive canopy

July 24, 2014
The Space Needle as seen from Volunteer Park at sunset. Winter 2013

The Space Needle as seen from Volunteer Park at sunset. Winter 2013

So, I’ve been looking for a canopy or camper that I can afford (which pretty much translates to ‘for free or dirt cheap’) and suddenly they’ve disappeared off of Craig’s List. I found dozens before Betty (my big truck) was on the road and I actually had one person tell me he would hold it for me but then sold it a couple of days after but now I only see about 6 and they all have issues. Sigh. I’m running out of time to find one so I may end up having to live in my tent for a while. I don’t mind that so much but the cranky cats will hate it. Of course they’re going to hate every minute of this adventure anyway so I don’t know why I’m worried about how they feel about the tent. And speaking of Betty …

Betty runs really well and we even got on the freeway for a bit on the way home from my friend Mike’s place. He’s the one who gifted me the truck. I love his whole family so much! His 7 year old daughter is an amazing young girl and is going to be a force to be reckoned with in the photography world! Serious natural! More on that later. I only noticed a problem when I pulled into the Safeway parking lot and turned her off. Dieseling. Bad. Sad. When I contacted Mike, he said that it was probably the timing that had been adjusted for hauling heavy loads and it would be an easy fix. BUT (and there always is one isn’t there?) we don’t have a timing light or the money to have it done at a shop. So we’re not only looking for a canopy now but we need a light as well. Sigh. Big sigh. There is some good news though …

I am Betty’s legal owner now and I have a license after 25 years as well as insurance. Feels really good! I love driving her. I even walk different now! I drive a big truck and I am fierce! LOL I am so funny! She’s a big beast and there was some ‘clenching’ going on in traffic and going through a 2 lane tunnel with someone beside me but I started feeling much more comfortable after I got on the freeway. Oddly enough, that’s where I thought I’d have the most problem but nope! Figures. Did I mention how funny I am? And as for the rest of today…

Editing. Workflow. I’m starting to hate those words. When I first started shooting, editing was a joy and an adventure but now .. not so much. It’s not that I have that many tweaks to do but I have more usable shots now. So that’s more small tweaking and cropping and sharpening and etc etc etc. And I shoot a lot. I mean A LOT. If I don’t get out and fire off a couple hundred shots a couple times a week, I get really cranky! I went and shot the Patron’s Car Show in White Center (Seattle) on Saturday and when I got home to download I saw that it had been 7 days! No wonder I was yelling at the cats! Good thing they love me or they’d be moving out! Wait, what? That might not be a bad idea. Nah..I’d be lonely.

So that’s today. This might not be an everyday type blog but I’m going to try and keep all of you apprised of where, what and whether or not we’re surviving. In the next entry, I’ll be sharing a wonderful thing I’m being asked to do while I’m on the road.

See you then and thanks for dropping by!

Donna
Donna Read Visions
Chauffeur for the Traveling Cats Tour

How the Traveling Cats Tour got its name: A Canadian Photographer On the Road

July 23, 2014

StevenRosenowPtNoPtshot

So, for the second time in my life, I’m becoming homeless. It’s not all bad though. At 60 years old, I have become a bit complacent and pot bound. Part of me agrees that it’s time to shake it up a bit. Just how much is a complete surprise to me though! Here’s a quick recap of how this all came about …

I am Canadian. I came to the US right after I lost the last close family member in 1975 and lived in Cali for a bit. In 1979, I came to Seattle and lived under the radar long before it was an issue like it is today. In 1988, I filed for Temporary Residence under the Amnesty Act of 1986 and was approved. In 1992, I filed for Permanent Residence and was approved. Or at least I thought I was. Last year, I applied for a replacement Permanent Resident’s car at the advice of Homeland Security in Tukwila, WA and was approved. Or at least I thought I was. This application went through several hands and survived an FBI check but in January 2014 I got a letter from Homeland Security stating that they had no record of my PR. I know right! I immediately went to the DHS office in Tukwila where I was told that they had been advised by their in-house legal counsel to discontinue any help and give me a list of immigration attorneys. I lost my mind! How can this happen? I actually asked the woman who started helping me that question and she let slip that whoever looked at my file (numerous people) was supposed to verify my status but no one did. And then she said it was possible that my info had been corrupted when they switched from analog to digital. Regardless of how this happened, there is no appeal. None. Nada. Enter the immigration attorneys….

I actually went to an immigration attorney, explained the series of events and asked if they could help me. Oh, one other piece of information…I was unemployed and going to school. They told me that for $1200 they would do a FOIA search for my paperwork from the 90’s. Now, anyone who understands what a FOIA is knows that it’s free! I mentioned that and was told that I probably wouldn’t ask for the right information. Really? I told the woman considering my case that I would do the FOIA myself and asked how much she would charge to help me after that if it came back with what Homeland Security found. She told me that it probably couldn’t be fixed and then added that I could live and work in the US as an undocumented alien for the rest of my life without getting caught! What? Needless to say, I left the office and never went back. What kind of attorney suggests that a prospective client break the law? And then we come to what happened with my financial aid and school…

I was working towards my BA in Human Services so that I could work with homeless teens at the time this was all coming down on me. I was into my fifth quarter and was almost done with my AA. Was is the operative word here. Once I was classified as an undoc, I lost my financial aid so Spring quarter was the last quarter I could complete. Game over. Now I had zero money. None. Nada. Enter my friends …

I love my friends. I’ve never had friends like this. Or any kind. That’s another story though. I was amazed at how my friends rallied behind me and tried to find ways to make this right. In the end though, the only realistic option is for me to go back to Canada and come back to the US and visit. A lot. No one wanted to take my case because I’m not newsworthy. You never hear about old white women from Canada who are losing everything because of INS/DHS incompetence, do you? No. So here I am….

Why the Traveling Cats Tour? Because I’m packing up my truck and my 3 cranky cats and hitting the road. Not exactly what I had in mind for an adventure at 60 years old but it IS kind of exciting! And scary as hell. I’m trying to raise money by selling prints of my work and most of my belongings. I needed to downsize anyway, pack rat that I am. Where am I going and how will I live? Well ….

I have big truck. Really big. Her name is Betty Gardner (yes, there’s a story behind it but it’s personal) and I’m still working on getting a canopy or camper for her. That way I can live quite comfortably in said truck until the weather gets too cold. Then I have to implement plan B which I really haven’t figured out yet. I have a lot of things necessary to survive including experience with staying safe and sane. As for the cats…well we’ll see.

So that brings you up to date. The Traveling Cats Tour hits the road at the beginning of August and the first stop is actually south at Hood River. I want to shoot the kite and wind surfers there before I go. I hope to meet my good Facebook friend Jock Bradley who was the first pro kite surfing photographer to like my first attempts at shooting kite surfers at Jetty Island. Then it’s back to Everett to work on my friend Roberto Soza’s kite surfing video. After that, up to Anacortes to visit another good friend, Eddie Murdock, and hopefully meet all the togs around that area that I’ve followed on Facebook for the past year. And then ….. we’ll see how the border crossing goes.

This blog will be about the adventures on the road. Watch for updates and thanks for stopping by!

Donna Read
Donna Read Visions
Traveling Cats Tour


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