CT Votes For Animals -2013

Every year, usually in March, CT Votes for Animals hosts a gathering at the Connecticut State Legislative building in Hartford. At this event, supporters of legislation in favor of animal rights are informed as to the organization’s successes with regard to CT laws. Each year, at least one special speaker addresses the gathered group.  Last year, it was Chris Sparks, Senior Animal Control Officer in Bloomfield, CT, who told the story of a poor dog who was chained and unable to defend himself in addition to being left outside year round in all kinds of horrendous weather conditions.

This year, CT Votes for Animals had a very special speaker;  Jennifer Hubbard from Newtown,  CT, the mother of red-headed Catherine Violet, one of the 6 year old victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. Catherine was only six but already had proven herself to be an animal advocate. Her mother spoke lovingly of her daughter’s love of animals…..how Catherine would save her allowance money to purchase dog biscuits for the dogs at the shelter, and how Catherine loved all animals.

Through the heartbreak of Newtown comes a ray of sunshine. Catherine’s love of animals will be honored along with Catherine’s memory as an animal sanctuary is being constructed in her name from contributions sent in to the family. Read more about it at http://www.theanimalcenter.org/sanctuary/#statementoflove

The tragedy of Newtown will remain with all of us through our lifetimes.  It is heartwarming to know that positive acts are rising from such a senseless act of violence. Below are a few of my photographs of the event. My personal thanks to Jenny Hubbard for having the courage to speak at the CT Votes for Animals event when the pain of her family’s loss remains so fresh in their hearts and minds. Be assured, Catherine Violet’s spirit and her memory will live on.

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Jenny Hubbard shares memories of her daughter, Catherine Violet, at the CT Votes For Animals event in Hartford this past March.

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On left, President of CT Votes For Animals, Amy Harrell. On right, Susan Linker,  CEO of Our Companions Animal Rescue & Board Member of CT Votes For Animals.

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Artist Janet Bogon Romanowski with her compelling work titled “365  24/7”

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Leyla Nichols of the Animal Center with Jenny Hubbard

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The talented Erin Vivero plays her flute for the annual for CT Votes For Animals event at the Hartford Legislative Office Building.

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Competition Print Time for Connecticut Professional Photographers Association

It was that time of year again….annual Print Competition for Connecticut Professional Photographers Association. It comes along usually in February or March. This year it was on March 15th at the Hartford-Windsor Marriott.  The print judges included Ella Carlson, Jack Holowitz, Steve Bedell, Bernie Littlefield, Nylora Bruleigh, Diane Miller and Joan Genest as print chairperson.

Print competition is always a fingernail biting kind of experience. There is so much riding on the panel of judges. How many women vs men will be on the panel? Will it make a difference in how the numbers fall? Will they appreciate floral still life’s? Will they enjoy seeing lots of wedding images? Will they prefer more traditional poses or perhaps embrace a more contemporary style? Will they understand the Art/Electronic Imaging category and give points for creativity and the hours of work that might have gone into creating such an image? Or the ultimate, burning question…the only one that counts at the end of the day…..Will they/Did they like my image?

I consider myself fortunate this year, having received three “deserving of a merit” blue ribbons and three “above average” red ribbons. In addition, I was surprised and elated to receive a “Judge’s Award” from Steve Bedell for my “Waiting to Exhale” image of a sunflower yet to bloom. That same image was also selected for the Lenzart Award for Most Creative in its’ category as well as taking a third place ribbon in the Classified Category.  The awards were well beyond my expectations and I am humbled and grateful that the judges awarded my image in so many ways.

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My other two blue ribbon winners were “All Hung Up”, an HDR (High Dynamic Range) composite of antique motor boat engines hanging on a wall, which received Second Place honors in the Art/EI category, and “Floral Origami”, of a tulip opening.

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My additional three images in the red ribbon category are titled: “Head’s Up”, an HDR image of a field of sunflowers; “Opening Day”, a peony in bloom; and “Siren Sea”, a portrait of a young woman and her reflection.

At the end of the day, I was able to answer that burning question (Did the judges like my images?) with a resounding “YES!”  Does that mean I can rest on my laurels?  Not even close!  There is so much more to learn and still higher scores to earn. But for a few moments, I could breathe easily and happily knowing I had pushed myself and in doing so, had received the most blue ribbons and awards I have to date.

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 I will continue to enter print competitions searching for the Holy Grail….first to place all 6 in the blue merit category and then to score a perfect 100 on at least one image. Kudos to those photographers who have scored 100 on each of four of their entered prints in the National and International Print Competitions where only four entries are allowed.   I don’t know if I will ever reach such lofty goals but if I sit on the sidelines, I’ll never know.

All images copyright 2013 GeminEye Images.

 

 

Time Flies…..the Wedding Reception & Behind the Scenes

It has been over 6 months since my last blog post. My apologies.  Somehow, life seems to get in the way.  I resolve to do better moving forward.  When we last visited, I had posted photos from my May 2011 wedding and Trash-the-Dress session.  With our first year anniversary already behind us, detail shots from our CT wedding dessert & champagne reception held in June of 2011, two weeks after the wedding, are long over-due. Pink and white colors with a tropical theme set the stage.

It turned out to be a most magnificent weather day, stunningly gorgeous with just the right amount of sun & puffy white clouds.  A Kauaian sea turtle garden flag marked the entrance to the property where the reception was being held.  Large pale pink and white balloons dotted the lawn and lined the drive along with frosted glass candle lanterns sporting ties of pink ribbons.  The white party tents were festooned with paper poms in shades of pink. On the food tables were white linens with fuschia pink embroidered silk banded toppers. Guest tables were decked in white linens and pink table toppers made by yours truly and an oval hinged box filled with Hawaiian themed key chains for wedding keepsakes had been set out.

Sheer white embroidered panels graced the wedding cake tent and were held in place with bright fuschia ties. The cake tent showcased one of our wedding photos from Kauai along with the two special umbrellas that Steve had painstakingly custom lettered for us.  Orchid blossoms surrounded the ten individual cake stands for the ten small round wedding cakes: one for each initial of our first names.  Wooden letters that Steve had painted topped every one of the cakes, spelling out each of our names.

Umbrella tented round tables displayed tiers of various home-made desserts filling antique glass and silver-plate serving dishes clearly marked by miniature chalkboard signs embellished with mini oriental paper umbrellas. Hawaiian themed cookies included mango ginger and a pistachio-almond.  Sugared hearts , Viennese finger cookies, pineapple frosted tropical cupcakes, brownies and other desserts were on hand.  Bowls of custom M&M’s included sentiments that held special meaning to us: “Can’t Help Falling/ In Love With You”, “Kauai 5-23-2011” , “You Wash, I’ll Dry”, “Susan & Steve”,  while blooming orchid plants dotted the tables.  In a nod to my co-ownership of the Canton Barn antiques gallery, an antique wooden washing machine complete with hand-crank rollers held wash tubs full of iced sodas and waters.

Special thanks to the talented Sweetheart Mountain trio for providing outstanding music perfectly suited for a magical afternoon, and to photographers Kristina Hill (Kristina Hill Photography), Ralph Rookey & Melissa Knox (Ralph Rookey Photography) who documented the day, and to neighbors, good friends, Best Man & Better Woman, Patrick & Tammy Casey who not only flew to Kauai to stand up for us, but who graciously opened up their property for our CT reception. Additional thanks to Andreas Obranovic, Gloria & John Lobre, Deb Kusjac, Bob Pulford , and Mike Reilly for all their help with setting up, and to Mandy, Miranda & Brittany who served our guests with smiles and polish.  🙂

Photos for this blog provided by Kristina Hill Photography, Ralph Rookey Photography, GeminEye Images, Tammy Casey and Ginny Lindroth.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form.

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Trashing the Dress

Trashing the Dress:  a chance to wear one’s wedding dress a second time, documented photographically in places that mean something to the wedding couple.  I knew that this time around I would be “trashing” my wedding dress.  The day after our Kauai wedding, we headed out at sunrise. There is a little restaurant that we enjoy dining at whenever we are on our way to the airport to leave this gem of an island. Dining is on the second floor and the wall opens up so you have a beautiful view of palm trees and the gorgeous blue ocean waters. This is not a swimming beach area so there are generally very few people out and about in the area. I love the way the palms dance in the tropical breezes and gazing out at the ocean blues just makes me want to linger there forever…so we both knew this was one of the places we would want photographs at.  Once again, good friend and photographer, Kristina of Kristina Hill Photography, did an amazing job capturing some stunning images that not only look Hawaiian, but feel that way as well.

We ended our Trash the Dress session in Hanalei Bay where the scenery can’t be beat with a walk on the Pier, a snorkel session and a final dip in the ocean! Aloha!

All images in this post are copyrighted by Kristina Hill Photography.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Champagne Wishes and Tropical Dreams

The first day of 2012 is a good day for reflecting on my 2011 wedding day…after all, this is our very first “new year” as a married couple. Steve and I were married in May on the beautiful tropical island of Kauai. Good friend, Kristina of Kristina Hill Photography, captured our day:  from the detail and getting ready images, to our magical beach ceremony and wedding dinner. It was a day of champagne wishes and tropical dreams without a doubt, from the rainbow in the morning to the five minute downpour prior to our beach arrival. In Hawaii it is consider good fortune if it rains on your wedding day. A little good fortune, cool sand, the sun shining and an ocean breeze set the stage, or in this case, the beach!

The Gown courtesy of Bridal Heirlooms.

Bree Anna plays our song on her saxophone.

Much to our delight and surprise, we were serenaded with an Hawaiian love song by our waiter at the Kauai Beach House Restaurant.

An absolutely touching end to a magnificent wedding dinner!

Our Wedding Cake decorated with orchids, topped with one very large phaleanopsis orchid blossom.

We couldn’t have asked for a better day to be married. Our thanks to Kristina for such beautiful images!

Next up:  Our Trash the Dress Session! coming to the blog soon!

Hungry Eyes

You can see into a person’s soul through their eyes, you know.  The same is true of animals in the eyes of a dog that pleads for love and a better life…or the eyes of a cat that is slightly apprehensive but willing to give trust a chance if it means love in forever home.

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That’s Cupcake above, looking for a new home.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I do love animals.  We have two precious cats of our own, rescued at the last minute from imminent cross country relocation into unfamiliar territory that would have included their ultimate introduction to a dog who thinks cats are squirrels. After cat sitting for them for six weeks while their original owner went through grueling surgery, we were given her blessings to keep Lily and Murphy.  They have embedded themselves into our lives and hearts…deeply.

And so, I began volunteering my photographic services to assist with the placement of special needs and hard to place pets.  Hard to place generally means that theses pets are older…..no longer cute, adorable kittens or puppies. Sometimes they have aggression issues because they have been mistreated by previous owners. With the love they crave and some retraining, these issues disappear. Special needs pets come in all forms…..deaf, blind, (or both), sometimes FIV positive, on occasion the pet will have one less leg than normal possibly because of a car accident like the cat, Ivory, photographed below.

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This being the holiday season, many families consider animals as gifts: kittens or puppies under the tree. I admit I am guilty of having done this myself a couple of decades ago. Had I known then what I know now, I would have done things differently. So now I ask of you who are reading this post and may be considering getting a pet to please contact agencies in your area to adopt a pet. Think twice about bringing a new pet into the home during the chaos of the Christmas- Hanukah – New Year’s holidays. Give the gift of an adoption fee with an application for a future adoption from a reputable agency. Welcome that new furry addition into the family after the tree comes down and the holiday parties are over so you can foster the relationship you want by offering a time of trust and bonding filled with love and attention.  It will make for a much healthier pet-owner relationship that will last for many holidays to come.

Below are just a few of the recently photographed pets awaiting adoption here in Connecticut. Check them out at Our Companions Domestic Animal Rescue (www.ourcompanions.org ) or on PetFinder.com  Look into their eyes…see the love, feel the pain of their loneliness or past abuse, and open your hearts and homes to these wonderful animals.  Thank you.

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Meet Buffy.  Sweet and adorable. Good with other dogs, too.

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Colby is just a few months old.  I absolutely adore those ears!

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Moses loves to head butt.  He’s got a ton of love to give.

And last, but by no means least….say hello to Fiona. She is one of the sweetest dogs I have had the pleasure of meeting, with some of the saddest eyes ever.

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Winter Storm Alfred….as in Hitchcock

Storm Alfred……as in Hitchcock. And what a fright this October Halloween weekend storm was. It started out as a beautiful fall day on Saturday. By noon, snowflakes were falling hard and fast. A couple of hours later and the ground was already coated with a good three to four inches of the white stuff. With the leaves still on the trees here in New England, this storm couldn’t have come at a worse time.

And so it begins . . . .an early, heavy start to Alfred..
This October 2011 snowstorm: Beautiful but destructive by the time it ended.

By 5 p.m., towns were already loosing power due to downed trees and tree limbs so heavily weighted by the wet falling snow that they just snapped. Five hours later, most of the state was in complete darkness as the storm continued through the night.

We had cranked up our furnace thermostat earlier in the evening preparing for the worst. Even though we lost our power at 7 p.m., the house stayed fairly warm that night. We laid in bed listening to the creaking, snapping and popping of trees as limbs gave in to the weight of the snow. It was a might bit scary wondering if one of those cracks would result in a tree coming through the roof or bedroom window.

At dawn’s light, our backyard looked like a war zone. Later, as we walked around town, we would realize that our war zone was comparatively minor in the scheme of things.

The morning light revealed the damage despite the heavy snow coverage.

Mother Nature wields a double edged sword. For all the beauty she gives us, there is her dark side, too. Sunday morning’s views around town were vividly exquisite…the snowy scenes: outstanding. The damage, however, was widespread and disruptive to everyone’s everyday lives.

As the sun rose, we were almost the only ones out and about. The quiet stillness of our little town was somewhat eerie. The beauty left us filed with wonder and awe from the majestic row of pines edged with snow, to the shimmering river…..from the snow lined power lines, to the line of pigeons and the single white dove sitting on them.

Small trees struggled to survive the bending of Mother Nature's forceful hand.
These Majestic Pines stand their ground through Storm Alfred.
This stately tree beside the church wasn't so fortunate.
The Farmington River dressed in October white.
A single white dove (far left) hangs out with the pigeons as the sun comes up.
Snow covered traffic lights no longer signaling safety for motorists.
Looking down a snowy Route 44 at the junction of Route 219 in New Hartford, CT

We headed back up our street dodging tree limbs and dangling power lines. Checking on our neighbor’s house, we were amazed at the number of tree limbs blocking their driveways. We picked our way through with care. A snow covered limb in their pond was beautiful in a Chinese woodblock sort of way. Finding a clear view of their home revealed that two trees had fallen on either side of it…one actually on their garage. We were relieved that our neighbors and their home had survived the worst.

Our neighbor's driveway...a wonderland of snow covered trees draped like winter curtains.
Like a Chinese woodblock print, this snow covered limb arched in the pond evoked a certain stillness to this winter scene.
Storm Alfred dropped trees everywhere but our neighbors were very fortunate not to suffer substantial damage here.
Un-naturally Bent.

The rest of the day was spent readying ourselves for what we optimistically thought would be at least a couple of days without power. We had already filled the bathtub with water the night before. Now we packed up our refrigerated items in a cooler that we filled will snowballs to keep our food from spoiling.  The frozen foods, ice creams and frozen fruits, went into a hole we dug in the snow. The cover was taken off the outdoor gas grill and the single burner camp stove was readied as well. Blankets, pillows and a sleeping bag were pulled out, and firewood was brought over to the porch to stoke our fireplace. The mess of fallen trees in the backyard could wait.

That first day without power, we managed to scramble up some eggs for breakfast, had sandwiches for lunch, and Boboli goat cheese pizza on the grilled for dinner by candlelight, of course.  Then we hunkered down for what would be the coldest night with temperatures in our area predicted to plunge to 18 degrees!  It was a wicked cold night! Brrr!

Monday morning dawned and hard boiled eggs were on the breakfast menu. Next up? Tackling the trees in the yard. For those of you who don’t know, we were married in May and one of our wedding gifts was a chain saw.  🙂  Out it came and Steve put it to great use. After several hours of cutting, dragging, stacking, and piling we called it a day. Lunch was grilled cheese sandwiches. Dinner: soup.

Tuesday was more tree limb cutting, moving and stacking after a breakfast of pancakes. My first road trip was to a nearby grocery store I had heard was open. I had to drive over a huge power line and dodge tree limbs to get there only to find out that all they were selling were canned and pre packaged goods….no meats.

I had heard a story about another grocery store in the other direction…..that they had fought the town’s zoning regulations several years ago when rebuilding to be able to install a huge generator. The store had eventually won its fight. This store had remained open throughout the storm, with tractor trailer trucks lined up off loading their goods everyday.  So off to that store we went in search of pork chops for that night’s diner. We were able to get the chops and pick up some deli meats for future lunches.  While out, we stopped at Cosi’s for a warm lunch…..warm food in a warm environment. It was like heaven. Truth be told, I wasn’t anxious to leave!

Grilled Porch Chops by Candlelight

Through all of this, we have been fortunate that I purchased a Xoom Motorola tablet a few months back that has 3G service. With a full tank of gas in my jeep, I am able to recharge my cell phone and the tablet, so I am always able to access the web via one or the other.  That  is how we learned that New Hartford is one of the hardest hit towns in the state and that we may not get our power restored until Sunday night….a full 8 days after losing it. The internet has been useful in other ways, too. Facebook allows people not to feel so all alone and everyone shares info about open gas stations, open grocery stores, and roads that are impassable among other useful hints like keeping your faucets dripping so the pipes don’t freeze.  Tablets and phones are also good for playing games, writing blogs, and checking emails.

Murphy has a leg up on Lily as they stay cozy and warm by the roaring fire.

Day four without power: Camping in the living room is getting a bit old. The cats constantly want to be in our laps when they are not parked right in front of the fireplace for warmth. It’s comforting to know that food is readily available from a number of sources, if needed. If we are careful, our wood supply will make it another four days and our power will be restored before we run out. Our pipes haven’t frozen yet which gives us hope that they won’t. Steve had to return to work today so I held down the fort on my own…stoking the fireplace, etc. He was bold enough to take a sponge bath in cold water. I readily admit….I would rather die first than do that!

We dined by candlelight once again.  Three cheese ravioli was on the menu. All this candlelight would be romantic if it was just 40 degrees warmer inside. In the meantime, we’ll throw another log on the fire and play another round of Angry Birds.

About 9 p.m. last night, power was restored to the center of town. Our house is a stone’s throw away but we remain in the dark. Another night of stoking the fireplace every couple of hours. We look forward to a night of uninterrupted sleep; of not having to sleep with one eye open watching the embers in the fireplace, of icy, cold water face washings, and cold fingers and toes. A friend of ours posed a really good question of Facebook just last night: How did those cowboys ever stay warm while huddled around an open fireplace when the heat dissipates into thin air so quickly? Food for thought. We’ve come along long way since those pioneer days and yet there are still cowboys doing just that out on the range for a living.

Our 24/7 heat source for the last five days. Hoping we don't need it a sixth night.

Day Five:  After dragging tree limbs and debris into piles in the backyard, I huddled by the fire as a chill set into my bones.  Lighting companies from various states have been seen working on our road. I am slightly encouraged. My neighbor was told we would get power back by 3 p.m. but here it is several hours past that and no power yet. I am sitting at Blue Sky Foods in New Hartford charging my laptop and typing this in a nice warm building.  Their power was restored last night, too, although their home is still without, and even worse, the road to their house is littered with downed trees and wires, still. We are each hoping each other gets power to our homes quickly.  Whoever does, the door is open for the other to shower in.

Three views of our backyard from Oct. 29 and Nov. 3

I’m sorry to have missed an episode of Dexter on television, would like to be able to use my desktop computer for work, and would LOVE a hot shower, but all in all, things could be much worse, and so, I am grateful.

I do have a request for the state of Connecticut. Please spend the money to create jobs and boost our economy by replacing all above ground wiring with underground conduits. Although it may cost a fortune to do so, in the long run the state will save millions of dollars in repairs from storms and its residents will no longer have to suffer through 8 days without power ever again. Even one day without power in this electronic world is one day too many.

A snow capped fence....just another Storm Alfred scene.
Leaves still on the trees makes for dangerous storm conditions.

Hope springs eternal. We will hope for our power to be restored daily until it is. Until then, I know we are not alone. Stay warm and stay safe.

-Susan

Post script to story:  Power was restored that Thursday night. After one hot shower, our hot water tank broke from the reconnect strain of the power surge and we find our selves without hot water for another 5 days until the replacement tank arrives.  A cruel twist of fate, but at least we have heat in the house now.

All photos copyright GeminEye Images 2011

The Angel Strikes Again

Shonya is no stranger to animals. In fact, she is no stranger to this blog either.  I wrote about the Angel Among Us a year and a half ago when I first had the opportunity to meet this woman with a heart full of love for animals, particularly, feral cats. I was on a photo session for Our Companions Domestic Animal Rescue when I first met Shonya.  In addition to photographing a few rescues at her home, I helped to place one of them, Tiger, who now lives the life of luxury in Canton.

There is something quite special about Shonya and her assistance to rescued cats.  She has four cats of her own: Joy, Happy, Runt, and Mocha who all happily seem to take a  stake in additional rescues, helping them acclimate, comforting, and teaching them the ways of living in a house. . . and “omh my gosh!” with humans, too!

And so it is my pleasure to once again host Joy, Happy, Runt & Mocha on this blog, as their “mom”, Shonya, begins a new chapter in her quest to aid animals.  This true Angel is creating a non-profit animal welfare organization titled “No Animal Left Unfed”. The goal? To assist families in greater Hartford, CT keep their pets, especially in these tough economic times. Shonya still works with Our Companions and with the CT Humane Society to help place pets in Forever Homes. GeminEye Images applauds Shonya’s efforts and wishes her bundles of food donations to help her succeed in her goal!

Helping paws: Joy, Happy Runt & Mocha:

Joy: Oh JOY!
Happy: A Happy Camper!
Runt: Too adorable!
Mocha: So Sweet!

To donate food or assistance, contact  Shonya via:

twitter.com/Noanimalleftunf
http://www.noanimalleftunfed.blogspot.com
noanimalleftunfed@hotmail.com

A Love of Travel – Lost.

Travel.  How I long for the travel days of yesteryear. It used to be fun to travel. I used to live to travel . . . literally. I would work long enough to save up for a trip and then I would be gone…by car, by air, it didn’t much matter. I can’t begin to count the times I told people that I was born with a passport in my pocket. As a teenager I even dreamt of being an airline “stewardess” (giving away my age here!) after graduating high school. But alas, I didn’t have the wherewithal to follow through with that desire.  In retrospect, perhaps that is a good thing, what with threats of terrorism, the aging airplane fleet, and all the crazies out there who fly these days.

Back then, flying was for the elite . . . Which I am sorry to admit, I was not. Travel by air was “special”. And those who could afford it, no matter what cabin they were in were treated with kindness, respect, and gratitude. The folks who did fly back then, for the most part, were gracious, helpful and courteous. And EVERYONE dressed appropriately for the special experience flying held those days. Luggage was checked without fees because – oh my gosh! – people would need changes of clothes when they arrived at their destinations. After all, if you were flying, it generally meant you either had to do it for business, or it was a real luxury, more often than not, to a place that was further than one would care to drive.

My first flight was to San Jose, California, to stay the summer with my aunt and uncle, the day after graduating from high school. The cost of flying was just too high to consider going to visit them for less than six weeks. My parents were struggling lower middle class with four children to feed and clothe. It was a huge deal for me to be flying somewhere, especially on my own. I recall even now the wonderment and thrill I felt on that first flight. Those feelings stayed with me throughout the first few decades of my wanderlust travel years. My preference was always the window seat because I was so curious about the world below and the clouds……what were they made of, how could a plane glide through them, what would they look like this time from above, how would they look at sunrise or sunset? I still marvel at the clouds….how puffy they are, yet how they seem to be of such little substance. But I digress.

Less flights to destinations mean fuller, and often times over-sold, flights like this one.

For years (decades) that initial thrill lived inside of me, even as traveling became more common place; through the years of limiting and then banning smoking on planes, through the emergence of frequent flier plans,  and the entrance of men joining the ranks of the stewardesses in the air.  Then, slowly but gradually, changes were made that started to impinge upon that thrill: more seats were added, aisles were narrowed, paying for food, paying for extra leg room, paying to check your luggage because God forbid you should want to take a plane somewhere and have a change of clothes! And don’t get me started on the atrocities of the frequent flier plans when your miles now expire within a year’s time!

Luggage bins are crammed to the max as more and more folks try to make do with less on their air trip in order to side-step checked baggage fees. Will carry-on luggage fees be applied sometime soon?
Narrow aisles make it difficult for everyone to navigate. Do you remember the days of being able to squeeze past the beverage cart in the aisle? I do. Fat chance of that happening these days.

I feel compelled to mention airport security here. I am all for making travel safer. The Europeans have been working on that for decades. I’ve been to third world countries. I appreciate the attempts at placating the American masses but come on now. If someone really wants to kill someone, they can do it with a pen or pencil. Let’s stop with the overkill…..nail clippers, etc.  And while I am on the security bandwagon….don’t sell anything in an airport shop that can’t be carried on a plane somewhere else. If you travel between terminals at some airports, you have to go back through security checks.  That bottle of hand lotion you just paid $15, $30 or $75 for may have to be confiscated and tossed out. Ridiculous! Particularly if it is in an unopened package. Frommer’s just posted an article titled “Flying 10 Years After 9-11, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” where they speak about the “dehumanization” of air travel.  You can read it at: http://www.frommers.com/articles/7431.html

As if all that isn’t enough, we now have some of the rudest people in the world flying around. Demanding and arrogant when the issue at hand is out of the realm of the gate attendant, flight attendant, or some other poor airline employee who catches their wrath. Got to love the folks who push the limit on carry-on luggage, too. Can we talk about the people who don’t bathe? Got stuck behind one on a flight back from Europe once….eeeewwwww! So , so thankful that my the  boyfriend, now husband, and I had been perfume testing prior to boarding the flight and just happened to have one of the tester cards in our carry-on. We quickly pulled it out, fanning it under our noses whenever the smell of his body odor became too overwhelming for us.

There are travel zombies galore. You’ve seen them moving about the airport as if they are still asleep. Luggage zombies….saw one today, OMG, whose luggage was just wobbling all around in exactly the opposite movement of the person. She, and her luggage, were just so out of control that we had to give her a very wide berth…which, I must confess, just totally cracked us up. There are the seat hoggers and then there are those folks who just should not be allowed in the exit row. Example: on our first flight this morning, the elderly couple seated in the exit row in front of us, could not even figure out how to turn the overhead light on which was only our first clue that there might be a problem here. Our second clue might have been the fact that neither one of them were very adept at just walking, let alone assisting folks in escaping a plane in trouble. Do we think they could have opened the exit door and tossed it aside? Hecks no! as my niece would say. I doubt they would have even been able to find the mechanism to open the door, even if they had read the instructions. How does an airline allow people that obviously unable to perform the required duties to sit in an exit row seat? These people were a liability to themselves and to the safety of the passengers onboard. I have a problem with this and my letter has already been crafted to send to the airline in question and to the FAA. Please don’t charge me money for everything, take away my free pillow and blanket, and then sit someone in an exit row seat who wouldn’t be able to help themselves, let alone anyone else!

A sunset window view is one of the few free perks still up for grabs, if you are lucky enough to get a window seat!

So yes….somewhere between here and there, I have lost my love to travel by air. It’s no longer any fun. I find myself thinking more and more about other ways to get me where I want to go. Dear airlines….please reinstate all of the perks you have taken away from the people who pay for your planes, staff, and who ultimately line your pockets. If you really, truly need to make more money…simply raise your airfares. Make flying the luxury it used to be. Bring back the glamour. I’d like to think that if the airlines started treating people the way they used to, with respect and gratitude for choosing their particular airline, that the folks flying would step up to the plate, respecting the airlines more. It’s a two way street. Instead of just telling us you are thankful we have chosen to fly with you…why not actually show us your gratitude? I’d probably fly less because I wouldn’t be able to afford it, but at least I’d have the satisfaction of knowing that when I did book a flight, I wouldn’t be nickel and dimed to death, and I would probably enjoy my flight more.

An Eye on Love (for a special Kitten)

I was contacted by Our Companions Domestic Animal Rescue to photograph a kitten without sight a couple of weeks ago.  The little guy, Kinnick (Kenny, for short) was rescued about three months ago on the campus of Trinity College, clearly very sick. Both of his eyes were severely infected, rendering him sight-less. Estimates put this little kitten at approximately 8 weeks old at the time of his rescue. At that point, Kenny’s health wasn’t very stable.  Kenny’s rescuer brought him to an emergency clinic right away. The veterinarian began treating him for infection but was less than optimistic that this poor little kitten’s eyes could be saved. At 9 weeks, it was determined that Kenny was stable and healthy enough to undergo surgery, and a surgical specialist removed both of Kenny’s eyes.

In my volunteer efforts with Our Companions, I have had to photograph a dog who was blind and deaf, a real challenge, but never had I been asked to photograph any animal without eyes.  I felt extremely honored to be able to help this little guy out.  “For the first time in his short life, Kenny feels great and acts just like any other kitten now,” states Stephanie Radowitz of Our Companions.  Stephanie doesn’t believe that Kenny ever had normal vision so he doesn’t “miss” anything.  He was moved from his rescuer’s home to an Our Companions foster home in order to have interaction with other kittens.  There are so many people who have stepped up to help Kenny, saving his life, and helping him on his journey. A personal thank you to all those who have helped to rescue this little guy and give him a quality life!

As I lay on my belly to capture the first frames of Kenny, posing comfortably under a piece of furniture, my thoughts turned to just how vulnerable he is.  But then, he wandered out into the room, tentatively checking things out, and I am happy to report that this kitten’s curiosity is intact, as is his purr-er, which is loud and clear from all of three feet away! And to his foster mom’s amazement, he climbed up onto her lap for the very first time in the one week she had been fostering him. It was a touching moment to witness

This little black and white furr-ball will captivate you and capture your heart! Meet Kenny!

 

The first photo...Kenny poses under a table.

 

Kenny checking out the landscape.

 

Comfy in the lap of "foster" love.

 

Scritches and Purrs! This kitten is into loving touches!

 

Kenny: The Portrait.

Kenny now needs a forever home…one with lots of love in it. If you have a heart filled with compassion, don’t hesitate to pick up the phone and call Our Companions at 860-242-9999 or contact them through www.ourcompanions.org .