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Pre-Thanksgiving and Insurance Woes

I’m in Thanksgiving mode.

Yesterday, I was “stuck” at home waiting on a delivery.

While I was home I made my “best in the world” cranberry dish.

I also baked pumpkin bread.

I also worked on a potato casserole.

Last night my youngest son arrived home from college for the holiday weekend.

My daughter (and friends) will arrive today.

[My oldest son, sadly, will not be able to visit until January.]

As I was baking yesterday, I had the air conditioning running because of the heat.

This is what Thanksgiving is like in Southern California – air conditioning!

At the same time I’m busy with family/holiday activities,

I’m also trying to work with my medical insurer Blue Shield of California.

Insurance companies don’t like to pay for physical therapy.

And, to be honest, most people don’t need ONGOING physical therapy.

If you’re injured/have surgery, a physical therapist helps you get well again.

Physical therapy is a temporary thing.

For those of us with permanent disabilities, however, it is a very different situation.

I will never have much use of my arm.

I will always need someone to move it for me since I can’t move it on my own.

Having a PT do this, keeps me from losing the limited mobility I do have.

It also prevents the muscles attached to my arm and shoulder from atrophying and creating worse problems.

When I don’t have regular PT visits, I regress rapidly.

My pain increases tremendously due to severe muscle spasms.

It’s a downward spiral.

You would think insurance companies would see the benefits of ongoing care for permanently disabled people.

But, medical insurance is never easy in 2014, is it?

My doctor’s letter proving “medical necessity” apparently wasn’t quite enough to satisfy the insurance company.

(Yes, even though they do know about my nine surgeries.)

Instead of asking my doctor for more information, Blue Shield of CA simply stopped paying my PT bills.

Now, I’m in the middle of a mess … PT bills, medical insurance “committees” who don’t know me, but are determining whether or not I’m really disabled, my doctor, and my physical therapist.

My doctor is re-communicating with Blue Shield of CA.

Will good and right prevail?

I wish I could say it will, but I have no idea.

There needs to be a better system.

Why should I have to “prove” my disability over and over again?

I’m not going to grow a new, working, arm.

It’s frustrating.

But, I’m trying to be patient as “the system” works through my case once again.

Hopefully, I’ll know more within a week.

At the same time, I’m mindful to be grateful.

It is time for Thanksgiving.

My kids are healthy.

We don’t have a perfect life, but we have a good life.

And yes, I am grateful.

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Marfa, Texas

Are you tired of hearing about my Texas trip?

I promise to move on to something new tomorrow.

(Although, I might come back with more Texas stories in the future.)

Marfa, Texas, is one of the most unusual places I’ve ever been to.

At one time, Marfa was a dying town.

Now it has become a tourist destination due to an eclectic collection of minimalist art.

Marfa is also famous for mysterious lights which sometimes appear on the horizon at night.

(The Marfa lights were featured on the TV show Unsolved Mysteries.)

I didn’t have the opportunity to spend a night looking for mystery lights, but there’s no doubt a lot of people come to Marfa just to see them.

I took the above photo one morning in Marfa.

The man pictured is named Mark.

I had met him the night before, and then ran across him the following morning.

Marfa is a very small town.

We kept running into the same people over and over again.

Many of them, we met the first night when we stopped into The Museum of Electronic Wonders & Late Night Grilled Cheese Parlour.

The Museum opens at 9:30 p.m.

If you’d like a drink, you need to bring your own alcohol.

When you walk inside, you find a small room with several old TVs, radios, and various old electronics.

You can order a grilled cheese sandwich to get rid of your late night munchies.

And, drink the beer you bought somewhere else and brought in.

And, talk to other people who happen to wander in for a late night grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s all very odd, but in a fun way.

There’s a lot of “odd” and “unusual” in Marfa … it’s a very funky place.

I like funky.

I could have found things to photograph in Marfa for days and days.

But, alas ….

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

It was soon time to hit the road again.

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More Texas Photos

There were so many great photo opportunities as I traveled through west Texas last week.

I enjoyed it because everything was so vastly different than it is in Orange County.

I got to photograph cowboys, truckers, lots of old cars, and desert landscapes.

It’s fun to get a change of pace.

I took a lot of photos from the car too.

(No, I wasn’t driving!)

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I was really excited when we came upon some cotton fields.

“Pull over!  Pull over!” I pleaded.

“The boys” (as I called them) were nice enough to comply.

I hopped out to take some photos of cotton fields, and close-ups of cotton balls.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I brought a cotton ball back to the car as a gift for Thomas and Daniel.

They didn’t seem nearly as excited about cotton as I was.

I’m not much of a morning person.

All photographers know, however, the best light for photos is at sunrise and sundown.

I’ve always been glad I live in California where sunsets are the big event and sunrises are not.

In Texas,

Bleary-eyed (and with no coffee!!),

I managed to get some beautiful sunrise photos.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

The “line” you see in the above photo (by the foot of the tree) is the railroad track reflecting the morning light.

It’s so terrible to wake up when it’s still dark.

We had a long drive to go trekking out in the middle of nowhere.

But …?

Once you’re awake and there, you’re really glad you did it.

We got some rain on my last day in Texas.

Are there any other states with big, huge, skies like Texas?

The clouds were ominous and SO dark just prior to the rain.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

The wind whipped up the desert dust, and the temperature dropped.

We were actually parked alongside the Rio Grande when the rain began.

Then, the rain stopped and the sun began to come out again.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

After a few river shots, we were back on the road.

Daniel spotted the double rainbow first.

This time it was him who said, “Pull over!  Pull over!”

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I think I was halfway out of the car before it had even stopped.

So many adventures packed into such a short period of time!

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West Texas

There was a moment while I was in west Texas …

A moment when I realized cowboys still work ranches, saloons continue to exist,

And, clearly, I was no longer in California.

The man on the left is named Bailey.

My friend, Thomas (on the right,) had just bought Bailey a beer.

Me?

Well, I saw a perfect photo opportunity.

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November 21, 2014

How is it possible November is nearly over?

It’s going to take me another day or two to get everything caught up from my Texas trip.

And?

Thanksgiving is next Thursday.

Aack!

(And, no, I haven’t given Christmas a passing thought yet.)

Remind me next year not to take on an out of state photo project right before the holidays.

I’m seeing Paul Newman today and I can’t wait because my arm is BAD.

Also, all the cooking for Thanksgiving always pushes me over the edge pain-wise ….

I really, really, really, need “my” Paul Newman a lot this time of year.

Being in cold weather (and seeing snow!) put me in a holiday mood.

I wish we would get some cold, stormy, weather here in Orange County.

I’m looking forward to having my family around next week.

This year will be a little tough though because it’s the first year one of my kids will NOT be here for the holidays.

My oldest son has been assigned to a project that will prohibit him from cross country travel for a couple months.

So, as much as I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas,

My heart is also sad we will have our first year without the entire family together.

I guess that’s bound to happen as kids grow-up?

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Texas and Colorado …

I thought I’d give you a quick summary of the last week.

I was shooting areas of west Texas last Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

I took the above photo (window reflection) at a small radio station prior to going inside to meet with the radio folks.

(That’s my friend, Daniel, walking behind me.  He didn’t know he was about to be a part of my composition.)

I love the LINES in the above photo.  So many things came together to make it a great shot.

Most of the areas we were shooting were very remote.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I got very little sleep … which is normal for these type of shoots.

I saw (and photographed) some beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

The most vibrant was a sunset in Marfa.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

The reflection of the sunset on the railroad tracks was amazing.

I arrived in Colorado in the wee, dark, hours of Monday morning.

It was a whopping 6F/-14.5C when my plane landed at the Denver International Airport.

I spent all day Monday and Tuesday with my sister.

I’m so glad I had the opportunity to spend time with her.

She is improving from her accident, but she has a very long road ahead of her.

There was snow in Colorado … which thrilled me beyond words.

I can’t remember the last time I saw snow, but it must have been at least ten years ago.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

(I didn’t get to see snow actually falling though!)

My sister and I drank tea, and talked, and worked together on a jigsaw puzzle.

She, obviously, can’t drive so I took her out for a brief trip.

We also went for a short walk.

I think it was good for her to get a little change of scenery.

Yesterday, my first day home, was the usual get-caught-up-from-a-trip stuff.

(With a shot in the ass of Toradol thrown in for good measure.)

I’ll have more about my recent adventures in upcoming posts …..

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Prada Store, Marfa, Texas

I got home late last night.

I’ll have a “real” post for you tomorrow.

In the meantime, here’s a night photo I took at the (famous) Prada Store outside of Marfa, Texas.

The “store” is actually a lifesize art sculpture …. which stands in the middle of nowhere in west Texas.

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

I love that my friend, Daniel Krieger, is in the doorway of the store.

And, Thomas Hawk’s shadow looms in the foreground.

The three of us had an epic trip.

I can’t wait to tell you all about it.

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Random Things

Here’s a quick look at what’s going on:

•  I bought hiking boots yesterday.  No kidding, I’m about twenty years overdue for a pair of hiking boots.  (I always wear sneakers while hiking.)  I was going to wear my cowboy boots to Texas, but I don’t think I could wear them 24 hours a day for three days straight while shooting.  My feet would be killing me.  Hiking boots are definitely not pretty-ish, but they’ll be a lot easier on my feet.  I bought Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking Boots.  They don’t need a “break-in” period and they’re SO comfortable.  I’ve already worn them for several hours.  They aren’t cheap, but they’re worth the price.  I bought mine about a half size up so I can wear them with very thick socks when I’m in freezing Colorado.

•  I’m trying to get all my gear, and enough clothes/toiletries for five days, into two small carry-on bags.  It’s a CHALLENGE.  The photography gear is hard enough … but the Polar Vortex is complicating the rest of my packing.  Shorts and tee-shirts just aren’t going to cut it.  (It was 2 degrees at my sister’s house when I checked yesterday!)

•  Don’t tell anyone, but there’s a Unicorn Mask packed in my very small suitcase.  Considering the weather, it might not be the smartest decision I’ve ever made.  But, who needs room for clothes in their suitcase anyway?  Besides, if you can’t walk out in a unicorn mask in the middle of a serious shoot, what fun is life?

Click on photo to purchase, or to view larger, in 24atHeart gallery.

•  Paul Newman helped reconnect my arm to my body yesterday.  I don’t know what I’d do without that man.  Unfortunately, when my arm pops off (and on) my body at whim, it leaves me in a lot of pain.  It’s not the best circumstances to begin a photo marathon.

•  Although I’m sworn to secrecy pre-shoot … I will be able to talk a little bit about what I’m doing once I’m in Texas.  If/when I can access wi-fi, I will attempt social media updates.

•  I’ve never driven in snow and/or icy conditions.  Ever.  My biggest worry about my upcoming trip is driving an hour from the Denver airport to my sister’s house, and then back again.  I wish I could just rent a snowmobile and drive it down the highway.

•  I hope my new phone arrives today before I board my plane.  The touchscreen on my current phone is only working intermittently.  Also?  It would be really fun to play with the iPhone 6 plus camera while I’m on this trip.

Stay tuned ….

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Adventures …

I’m preparing for (what should be) my last out of state shoot in 2014.

It’s a trip that has been in the making for about two years.

Originally, I was going to be on this shoot for six days with two other photographers.

I thought I’d be accompanied by a puppy in training also.

My sister’s accident, of course, has taken priority.

Now, I’ll be at the shoot Friday through Sunday night.

During those three days, I will probably be working 22 hours of each 24 hour period.

It will be intense because …

Well, I have three days to do six days worth of shooting.

It will be a lot of fun.

And very cold???  (Polar vortex!!)

And extremely exhausting.

I will be in Colorado with my sister Monday and Tuesday of next week.

I think I arrive in Colorado around 3 a.m. on Monday.

Did I mention exhaustion?

And do you know how cold Colorado has been this week?

(“Aaack!” says the Southern California girl who doesn’t own any warm clothes or shoes!)

But, that’s okay.

Because after this trip … comes the holiday season.

(And we all know how restful the holidays are??)

My arm is going to be extra-challenging on this trip.

It’s been rebelling this week for unknown reasons.

And, I know, I am about to push my limits in every arm-way imaginable for five nonstop days.

I’ve learned to “manage” my disability as best I can over the past few years.

I’m seeing Paul Newman today.

I’m taking “emergency” drugs with me in case I need them.

I’m seeing Dr. Painless the first morning upon my return.

(And probably Paul Newman again too.)

I’m not sure if I’m going to have Internet available during the first few days of this adventure.

I’m going to be in some very remote locations.

If I can I will post updates.

If I can’t do a full blog post I will try to provide brief updates via:

•  Facebook

•  Twitter

•  Instagram

I doubt if I will have time for any other forms of social media …

If I can even find Internet access at all.

Did I mention I’ll be In-The-Middle-Of-Nowhere-Texas??