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Bits and Pieces

I went out of town for a wedding last weekend.

It was a really beautiful wedding and I had a fun time seeing old friends.

It was really nice to have a weekend away.

(And yes, I did cry.  I cry at weddings when either the bride or groom is close to me.  This is a really weird thing to do??)

Sunday, on the drive home, I stopped in the city of Westminster to visit Art Supply Warehouse.

I only learned of this store recently.

It’s like a Costco/warehouse store full of art supplies.

They carry everything imaginable, and then some.

In addition to an amazing inventory, the prices are WAY less than anywhere else I’ve encountered.

I was super excited to discover Daniel Smith watercolors on a half price sale.

I LOVE art stores!

(And bookstores too!)

Last night, I went out to a very nice restaurant for a mini-celebration.

It was great to have something positive happening … worth celebrating.

Wedding = happy occasion.

Celebration dinner = happy occasion.

Can I just say ….

It’s about time for ALL THE HAPPY THINGS!

In other news, today is my sixth day of dieting.

(But, who’s counting – right??)

OK, so I’m actually not “on” a diet but I’m being very strict with myself about what I eat.

(Also?  Mini-portions!)

It isn’t an organized diet with lists, or counting, or anything like that.

But, I need to lose the weight I gained through the last 12 months of surgeries, and calamities, and disasters, etc.

I’m not expecting overnight miracles, but I plan to just trudge along … and hopefully, eventually, feel more like myself again.

I’m only going to weigh myself once a week also, so I have no idea if my first few days have done any good.

But, I’ve at least started.

The swimming pool is done which is ALSO good news!

I’ve only taken phone photos so far, but I’ll try to post a “good” photo soon.

During the first week the pool water has to be “conditioned” daily, and then the pool has to run as a chlorine pool for one month, and THEN we can convert it to being a salt water pool like it was before.

Paul Newman has returned from vacation and is back to cranking on my arm.

(My arm needed him, so it’s a good thing!)

I hope I get to decrease my PT time a little in November – fingers crossed!

It’s really hard to have much of a life outside of PT right now.

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Starting Over

I feel like it’s time to start over in just about every aspect of my life.

We all have to re-balance our lives now and again, but my entire life needs a reset.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I’m now looking towards October 31st with stars in my eyes.

(That’s the day I get my next ultrasound on my arm and, hopefully, a green light to begin doing MORE.)

I’m trying to be realistic, but I feel like I’ve begun making new year resolutions in mid-September.

My life always gets super busy during the last few months of the year.

I’m trying to be realistic about THAT too.

But, still ….

I feel like I’m standing in the middle of a war zone trying to decide what piece of demolished ruins to pick up off the ground first.

When every single area of your life needs fixing – where to start first?

It’s overwhelming.

There are many things in ruins I have no control of.

I can’t go back to working full time for awhile still.  (I have to wait for more healing to take place.)

I can’t find my husband a job ….

Hopefully, something will happen for him sooner vs. later –

He’s close to having something, I think.

I can’t make cancer go away and leave our family alone forever.

But, I’ve decided to begin trying for one positive step forward per day.

It might be a teeny, tiny, baby step –

Or, on some days (if I’m lucky?)  it might be a gigantic step.

Each day, I’m going to try to move some aspect of my life towards where it should be,

Instead of where it has been these last twelve months or so.

I’m going to make a note every single day of at least one thing that improved and/or moved closer to normalcy.

When lots of major life things go wrong all at the same time,

It can be hard to see the small improvements as they begin to come.

I’m going to focus really hard on seeing, and embracing, them.

I’m also going to begin forcing time to take better care of myself.

The last twelve months have completely kicked my ass.

I need to make time to take care of myself instead of neglecting my own health and happiness.

It’s easier to say all of this, of course, than to do it.

But, one small step each day  is what I’ll be focused on for the remainder of 2016.

If you feel like your life needs a reset, feel free to join me.

One small step forward each day.

If I can do it, you can do it???

Why wait?

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Mid-Week Update

Hello, hello!!

I’ve been a little scarce due to general chaos at my house.

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m in the process of having my backyard swimming pool rebuilt.

It began as a project to re-plaster (Pebble Tec) the cracked plaster in the pool, but it turned into much more.

Basically, the entire pool was re-done except this time they didn’t have to dig the hole, and/or build the foundation of the waterfall structure.

It has involved months and months of workers in my backyard … which has meant constantly “managing” my two giant dogs who haven’t been able to play where they’re used to playing.

Anyway, yesterday the Pebble Tec (a type of plaster) was poured.

It is a HUGE production when that happens.

pool-suzanne-haggerty-2016-w

Today, the workers will return to do an acid wash on the new Pebble Tec and then the pool will (finally) be ready to be filled.

Frank will be so excited to be able to swim again!  (Me too!)

I have to say the workers have done an excellent job even if it did take months longer than initially expected.

The pool looks much better than it did when it was first built 18 years ago.

I’ll share a completed photo once the pool has been refilled.

In other news, Paul Newman is out of town this week so I have an entire week free.

My arm doesn’t love his absence, but it is giving me an opportunity to get caught up on all sorts of things.

(Living at PT three days each week, combined with all the surgery follow-up medical appointments, leaves very little time for the rest of my life!)

It has made me realize what a disarray my life has fallen into since my elbow tendon tore last November.

I’ve pretty much been able to do nothing … my house is beginning to look like it could be featured on The Hoarders.

But, my elbow surgeon recently told me (after looking inside my elbow via ultrasound) that the PRP injection I had appears to have helped.

It “broke” the healing plateau my body was in.

If things progress as hoped, I will hopefully be cleared on October 31st to begin using my arm.

(The tendon has to be 40-50% healed for me to get the go ahead!)

It won’t mean I can do EVERYTHING, but it means I’ll be able to begin the process of moving forward.

I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW HAPPY THIS WILL MAKE ME!!

It has been a really terrible 12 months in so many ways, and (hopefully) October 31st will be the beginning of much better things in the future.

I know progress will be slow and gradual, but I can’t help but think ahead to all the areas of my life I’ve had to put on hold.

Simple things like cleaning out a closet and/or cooking regularly.

More involved things like shooting regularly and building my business back up.

I’ve gained weight and gotten really out of shape due to being so sedentary post-surgeries and/or not being able to prepare and cook healthy meals.

Who would ever think I’d get excited over the prospect of being able to chop vegetables again?

It may take a year to recover from the last twelve months, but I’m SO excited to begin.

Keep your fingers crossed things keep progressing and I get a good ultrasound report on October 31st!

I feel like I’ve just begun to see the slightest glimmer of a light at the end of the tunnel.

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Adventures In New York, Part III

If you missed the beginning of my recent New York Adventures, you can get caught up by reading Part I and Part II.

When we left off, I was preparing to go to the Canon launch party for the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV camera.

The party was held at The Whitney Museum which was one block from my hotel.

The Whitney

Canon did a great job of welcoming guests with “Canon VIP” signs and (literally) rolling out the red carpet for us.

I enjoyed playing with light and effects at the red carpet entry.

The party itself was great, but I won’t bore you with the details.

Unless you’re a photographer, it wouldn’t mean much to you.

(But, I will say we were wowed by what we saw and learned about the new Mark IV camera!)

I returned to my hotel late that evening.

I left the party itching to shoot my new camera which I knew had arrived at my house back in Orange County.

I was quite confident my new camera was eager for me to get home to unbox it.

(By the way, I purchased my camera it was not gifted and/or discounted by Canon.)

On Friday, I spent my remaining hours in NYC back at The Whitney Museum.

Although I’d been at the museum the night prior, I hadn’t had an opportunity to explore the exhibits.

People RAVE about The Whitney and I wanted a chance to explore.

(It was in the 90’s that day with rain predicted … a perfect day to be in a museum vs. outdoors!)

My favorite exhibit was “Standing Julian” a massive wax sculpture by Urs Fischer.

Standing Julian by Urs Fischer

Julian is probably 10-12 feet (?) tall and weighs around 1,000 pounds.

He’s made in the likeness of one of the artist’s friends.

He has wicks in a couple places (head, shoulder) and they’re lit each morning/extinguished each night.

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The back of Standing Julian.

Gradually Julian will melt – representing the transience of life.

Seeing this massive sculpture in person was AMAZING.

If you ever get an opportunity to see Standing Julian, I highly recommend it.

The sculpture can be recast, so it may be lit anew at some point in the future.

I was able to spend most of the day perusing exhibits at the museum, and then it was time to catch a cab and head to the airport.

I had an evening flight back to California.

My visit was way too short, but I was also eager to get my hands on my new camera back at home.

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Adventures in New York, Part II

In my last post, I was sharing my trip to New York.

When we left, I was out shooting the city with my friend, Neil.

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Neil – New York CIty

Neil and I visited the 9/11 Memorial and The National September 11 Memorial Museum.

I’m absolutely glad we went, but it was a very sobering few hours.

Afterward, Neil decided we should grab a ferry to Jersey City.

We rode for about ten minutes across to Jersey City.

We stayed on the ferry and rode right back.

Most of the time we were just having fun, being silly, and taking photos of each other.

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Me – by Neil Kramer

But, it also gave me the opportunity to take photos of the city from the water.

One World Trade Center and the surrounding area.

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Me shooting – photo by Neil Kramer

After returning from the ferry ride, we walked several miles in the scorching (oh, so humid!!) heat.

New York City looks nothing like Orange County – which makes street photography a lot of fun.

The Streets of New York City

Life never slows down in the city.

At some point, Neil looked at his wilting California sidekick (me!) and decided it was time to hop back on the subway.

I took this as an opportunity to play with my shutter speed and have some fun ….

Construction workers in the subway station.

Neil told me when to hop off the subway.

(I have a terrible fear of getting lost on the subway and ending up in another faraway country with no way home!)

We parted ways shortly.

Neil continued on with his evening, and I headed back to The Standard to get ready for Canon’s 5d Mark IV launch party.

I’ll be back with more of my NYC adventures in my next post!

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Adventures in New York, Part I

I had a great, very busy, very QUICK, trip to New York City.

I love New York City because there’s so much to shoot there.

(No, I wouldn’t want to live there permanently, but I wouldn’t mind a few months in NYC packed with nonstop shooting.)

I was invited to New York by Canon for the “launch party” of the new Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

(Thank you Canon!!)

The party was being held, after hours, at The Whitney Museum in The High Line area.

Thus, I found myself staying at The Standard High Line only one block away.

Room 1521, The Standard High Line

On Wednesday, I woke up well before dawn to drive up to LAX and fly to Newark, NJ.

Travel was an all day (very long!) process.

The sun was setting by the time I arrived in my room on the 15th floor of The Standard in New York.

Taken through my hotel window – Sunset Over the Hudson

I never think of New York as a sunset city, but it was gorgeous!

I began shooting, through the glass, and didn’t stop until well after dark.

I had a quick dinner only to discover it was now fairly late.

I was exhausted.

I opted to get some sleep so I could wake up, early and refreshed, on east coast time the next morning.

I met my friend, Neil, first thing Thursday morning.

We walked to Chelsea Market for breakfast and then began walking and shooting, and walking, and shooting more.

(Um, there was quite a heat wave while I was in New York so it was very, very … hot!)

Eventually Neil took me (via subway) to Ground Zero.

I had been before, but when I was last there the 9/11 Memorial was not yet built.

9/11 Memorial, Ground Zero, New York City

I’ve seen countless photos of the 9/11 Memorial, but standing there – looking down into those enormous fountains is really something.

Neil and I were visiting just three days prior to the fifteen year anniversary of 9/11 ….

Somehow, that seemed to make the visit even more emotional than it would have been otherwise.

From the fountains, I was immediately drawn to Calatrava’s Transit Hub … which looks like a bird in flight.

(You can see the exterior on the right side of the above photo.)

The structure is a photographer’s dream … so many angles and lines, and spaces.

I could have spent hours there.

Exterior photo of the Transit Hub designed by Santiago Calatrava.

I was struck by the enormity of the hub once I went inside.

It’s a  staggering 800,000 square feet in size.

It was just opened last March, after twelve years of plannning, design, and construction.

The Interior of Calatrava’s World Trade Center Transportation Center

I haven’t had time to go through all of the photos I took there yet, but I already know some of them will become my all time favorites.

At one point, I layed down on the floor and took a photo of the ceiling.

If you look closely, you can see window washers way up top, cleaning the glass of the ceiling.

Looking up from the floor to the ceiling.  Calatrava Transportation Center

By the way, a security guard was on his way to tell me I couldn’t lay down on the floor right when I popped back up.

I gave him a big smile.

I seem to get myself in trouble wherever I go.

(Later that evening, a bouncer bounced me from the rooftop bar at The Standard because I had a “professional” camera with me.  I hadn’t even taken a photo – yet!)

Security was exceptionally tight everywhere I went.

NYPD Counter Terrorism officer

In part, that is just the way New York is now.

But, in addition, with the anniversary of 9/11 everyone was on high alert.

Over the course of my visit, I chatted with some very nice NYC police officers.

Several of them even insisted I have my photo taken WITH them once we’d been chatting for awhile.

They can look intimidating to the casual passerby, but the officers I talked to were all exceptionally kind.

NYC Police Officers

I’ll be back with more of my NYC adventures in my next post!

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New York

I hope you had a great Labor Day Weekend.

I’m headed to New York this week for a work-related event.

Canon was kind enough to invite me to their exclusive launch party for the new Canon 5D Mark IV.

I pre-ordered the Mark IV within minutes of the product announcement.

(I had been eagerly waiting for pre-orders to open!)

The Mark IV will be replacing my Mark III and be used in conjunction with my Canon 5DSR.

My Mark III has been my faithful companion for years.

I’ve become emotionally attached to it; it is almost an extension of my own body.

I’m very excited (!!!) about the upgrades Canon has made in the Mark IV – GPS, wi-fi, 30 megapixels, touch screen, improved focusing, etc., etc!!

I shoot with two camera bodies at a time, and I know the Mark IV will be awesome alongside my super-high megapixel 5DSR.

If you’re in the market for a new high end DSLR camera,

I would definitely suggest the Mark IV.

(Unless you have need to print EXTREMELY LARGE prints …. which is what I use my 5DSR for because of my corporate clients.)

I can’t wait to dive into all the details, and capabilities, of the Mark IV while I’m with Canon in New York.

I love (!!) visiting New York City because there’s so much to shoot there.

Unfortunately, due to my schedule this month, this trip is going to be very short.

I can’t even express how frustrating it is to not to have the time I want/need while I’m there.

(Especially since it takes nearly a full day just to travel there!)

But, I’m super excited to be going.

I also know it might be for the best I can’t spend day after day shooting.

My arm is definitely not ready for  any  extensive use.

I’ll just have to make a return trip when I can spend more time … maybe in the spring?

In any case, this will be my only blog post this week due to both Labor Day and my NYC trip.

I’ll be back next week to share photos and stories about my whirlwind trip.

I will be posting as frequently as I have time for on social media this week.

As always, you can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and SnapChat (SuzanneHaggerty).

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More Fire Photos

Helicopters were flying from “my” lake to the fire again for most of yesterday.

The flames of the fire are no longer visible from my backyard as I sit down to write this post.

The fire is still burning on the opposite side of the mountain … thus, the nonstop flights of the helicopters.

I thought I’d share a few more photos from Wednesday with you today.

This is what the fire looked like from my backyard fairly early Wednesday morning:

Cleveland National Forest fire.

I wasn’t overly concerned at first.

The fire looked relatively small and I know there’s always a quick response to fires here.

But, the fire didn’t take long to grow.

The brush is really dry and goes up in flames quickly.

The smoke and sky looked surreal as the flames crept over the mountain.

By 10:00 a.m. it was clear the fire was growing very rapidly.

I kept a cautious eye on the hillside knowing how quickly wildfires spread here.

All it takes it one ember being blown by a breeze to set off another area a distance away.

I have been near, or somewhat involved with, many California fires over the years.

They don’t faze me the way they would many people.

But I do have the utmost respect for them.

The remarkable thing with this fire is how quickly and forcefully the firefighters responded.

I have NEVER seen as many resources (11 helicopters, 7 air tankers) sent to a fire so quickly.

Fire fighting preparedness has been a big dollar political issue for years.

It was refreshing to see this fire fought aggressively from the very start.

DC-10 air tanker dropping fire retardant on the mountain.

The above plane can drop 11,600 gallons of flame retardant in one load.

That’s pretty amazing!

Bright colored flame retardant is visible on the mountain behind the helicopter.

Obviously, the fire fighter’s aggressive approach to this wildfire has been a success.

I’m sure crews will be in the area working for days to come.

I’m very grateful to them … it has been super hot here and I know conditions are miserable.

** Please have a safe Labor Day Weekend. **

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Fire!

When I woke up yesterday morning there was a smoky haze on the mountains behind my house.

I could tell there was a fire back in the canyon, but it looked small – no big deal.

A few hours later, in spite of the work by fire crews, it was clear the fire was growing.

Fire1 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

The Cleveland National Forest on fire – photo from my backyard.

Eleven (!) fire helicopters began what would become all day flights to the fire.

Whenever there’s a fire in the area, the helicopters use the lake behind my house as a water source.

Fire2 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Orange County Fire helicopter as it descends to refill it’s tank with lake water.

Yesterday, there were times when four helicopters at a time would be at the lake getting water.

Usually they only send one or two helicopters.

I knew the fire must be growing quickly if there were four helicopters filling up water tanks at any given time.

Having grown-up in Southern California, I don’t get overly concerned about fires.

They happen all the time here.

But, when the flames became visible cresting over “my” mountains, I definitely took note.

Fire4 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Flames were visible cresting over the mountain by 10:00 a.m.

I checked the fire department’s website and read that 155 acres were on fire, two hundred firefighters were assigned to the fire, one firefighter was injured, eleven helicopters were dropping water, and seven air tankers were dropping nearly 12,000 gallons of fire retardant per fly-over.

Fire5 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

An air tanker dropping more fire retardant.

The cause of the fire is unknown.

Most likely someone tossed a cigarette out a car window and/or thought it would be a good idea to light a campfire back in the canyon.

Hopefully it wasn’t caused by an arsonist.

The brush on the hills is incredibly dry right now.

It burned quickly and it burned big.

Fire6 © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

At times the fire scene looked eerie and surreal.

In the afternoon, I walked behind my backyard fence to get a couple close-up helicopter photos for you.

It’s kind of amazing to watch the efficiency of the helicopters.

FireB © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Some of the fire helicopters have hoses that suck the lake water into large water tanks on board.

The helicopter pilots are so skilled.

They manipulate their way through smoke and ash.

They hover a few feet above the lake until their water tanks are full.

Some of them dip enormous baskets into the lake and then continue on their way.

FireC © Suzanne Haggerty 2016 W

Helicopters with dumping baskets are still used to fight wildfires.

By nightfall, there were no visible flames to be seen from my backyard.

I’m not sure if the fire is completely out, but the worst is definitely over.

I’m so glad there weren’t any big winds to make things more dangerous.

And, as always, I’m very grateful to the men and women who put their lives on the line to protect the rest of us.

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Sexual Watermelons??

Yesterday, I attempted to lift a watermelon with one arm while shopping at Costco.

It didn’t happen, and I admit to spending way too much time fondling the watermelons trying to accomplish this task.

(Eventually I used TWO arms … which I’m regretting still because – ouch!)

I was buying watermelon for Fred and Frank … both of my Newfies LOVE watermelon!

While I was hovering around the fruit department, I overheard a Costco employee discussing how to pick out the best watermelon to another shopper.

I tried to eavesdrop for a minute just in case there was a Secret Watermelon Picking Tip I didn’t already know.

(In hindsight, why did I do this?  I already know how to pick a good watermelon!)

The other shopper walked away and the Costco employee began chatting with me.

“Did I hear you say there are male and female watermelons?” I asked him.

“Yes!” he replied, smiling.

He then proceeded to explain to me “female” watermelons are much tastier than male watermelons.

He told me a female watermelon “has rounder curves, almost like a circle vs. the longer shape of male watermelons.”

Next, he described to me all the details of a female watermelon.

His description?

Well, it would have made a sailor blush.

Inside my head, I told myself, “He’s just describing a watermelon Suzanne.  Stop sexualizing his description!”

But, his description was very … sexual.

An hour later I was at home googling “female” and “male” watermelons.

Guess what?

There is no such thing.

I bet I made his day.  (!!)

By the way, I still blush when I think about some of the things he said …

And I just stood there nodding the entire time.

Only me??