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March 29, 2017

I’ve been busy looking at model homes (and more model homes, and then – even MORE model homes).

No, I’m not moving.

I’m just trying to get ideas for a possible home remodel.

My house is old and needs some major (!!) work.

It’s overwhelming – I really don’t even know where to begin.

I wish I could just wave a magic wand and come back to a completed house.

(Or have someone bulldoze the entire house and rebuild it the way I want … in a week?)

I’ve also begun making time to take a few photos each day.

I’m trying to build my arm strength up so when I get the “get out of jail” card from my surgeon (probably in May?) I’ll be able to hold my camera.

The other day I brought home some beautiful pink hydrangeas and decided I’d take a few macro shots of them.

It’s an easy-ish workout for my arm because I can do it at home without hauling any gear.

Of course, there are some other … complications … which frequently develop when working from home.

Frank The Newf was obsessed with smelling the flowers!

Frank didn’t want to stop smelling the flowers.

Apparently, they’re Newfie-Nose-Delightful!

Here’s one of the completed photos:

Macro photo of pink hydrangeas.

I also shot some craspedia flowers.

They’re ball-like flowers.

Craspedia Flowers –  aka: billy buttons or woolyheads

Craspedia were a LOT of fun to shoot.

There are so many funky abstracts you can make out of them.

I’m going to print the above photo BIG … it will look awesome!

Paul Newman and I are ALSO continuing to work on getting me stronger.

I’m trying to adjust my expectations to be a little more realistic.

But, not many people go eleven years without using their arm …

Which means I have no one to compare myself to.

Am I failing?

Succeeding?

Will I ever get there?

And where is THERE …

And what does THERE mean?

Paul Newman has more patience than I do, but maybe that’s because he understands the process better than I do.

I’m **trying** to learn patience.

It’s a roller coaster process.

I accomplish something NEW and I feel like I can conquer the world.

“Look!  Look! I held a ONE POUND weight!!”

It’s pretty exciting to do something, even a small something, if you haven’t been able to do it for eleven years!

But then …?

The next day I’m in a lot of pain and regress.

I struggle, and fail, and get really mad at myself.

Getting an arm to work after 11 years is not a NORMAL process.

But …?

I’m happy because I *think* I’m headed in the right direction.

I feel like a one year old learning to walk.

I take a step, fall, and try again.

Sometimes I take two steps in one day.

Other days I walk backwards instead of forward.

I’m tentative even on a good day.

There are a lot of uncertainties and fears after all these years.

But …?

Anyone who’s ever met me knows there’s also a lot of determination and stubbornness.

And, my camera …?

It’s calling my name, begging me to return to it full time.

I will.

Soon.

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It’s FRIDAY and I Have Pink Hair!!

I spent most of my week trying to get caught up from everything I neglected while having my kids in town for a few weeks.

I’m *almost* caught up …!

My filthy car is now clean and sparkling.

Franks’ fur-mats have been brushed and/or cut out from his many swims/mud rolls.

The piles of neglected laundry have been tended to.

I even had time to get my bangs slightly trimmed ….

Pink hair for spring?

My hair stylist washed my hair with Viral Light Pink Shampoo (twice) to give my hair the spring-ish pink tint you see in the above photo.

It wasn’t something I planned for, but she offered to make me pink at no charge and I thought, “Why not?”

Some of you, who have been readers for a long time, know I’ve done all sorts of things to my hair/hair color in the past.

This was the simplest thing imaginable.

All you have to do is shampoo once for the lightest of shading … more times if you want to build up color.

It will wash out a little each time I wash my hair.

How long until it’s all gone?

I’m not sure, but I imagine not long.

I have low-lights put into my hair regularly, and they seem to wash away much faster than I’d like … and this color is “made to” wash out.

One “pink shampoo” would probably have been perfect if I was doing it myself at home.

But, I was afraid the pink would be completely gone as soon as I washed my hair at home the first time, so we decided she would give me two quick back-to-back shampoos to build up a little more color.

I’ll let you know how long the color lasts.

Will I do it again?

Probably – as long as it washes out relatively quickly so I don’t feel “stuck” with one color for too long.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to change things up a little.

Happy weekend!

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The Latest & Greatest

I’m anxiously waiting for April The Giraffe to have her baby.

She might have HAD her baby by the time you read this.

I’ve seen a giraffe give birth before and I have to say it’s not a pretty sight.

(Also, the baby drops about six feet when born – ouch!)

And yet?

I keep waiting for April’s calf anyway.

My son left on Saturday afternoon and I’m now trying to catch-up on everything I’ve ignored over the last few weeks.

Sunset in Newport Beach

Yesterday, I spent my morning with Paul Newman and my afternoon in Los Angeles with my surgeon.

I’m eleven (11!!!) weeks post-op.

The good news is very good …

The worst of my pain-causing injuries are gone/repaired/removed …

Which means I’m in a LOT less pain.

YAY!!!!!!

If nothing else ever happens, I’ll be forever grateful just for that.

The bad news …?

After nearly eleven YEARS of not being able to use my arm and/or use it normally ….

I still can’t.

I get SO frustrated!

(I have a logical understanding about my Arm Situation, and an emotional tantrum about it happening simultaneously.)

Since the teeth-clenching pain is gone I feel like I should be progressing very quickly.

But, even the simplest, very-beginning, post surgery PT exercises are still defeating me.

Paul Newman is encouraging …

He tells me he sees progress even though I don’t.

My surgeon explained to me it will be harder for me to see day-to-day progress than it is for Paul Newman.

“It’s like you’re watching paint dry,” he said.

“You don’t see it changing, but other people do.”

I’m allowed to do some light shooting if I’m careful and if I don’t carry my equipment (extra cameras/lenses/lighting).

That means I have to leave my gear at home or hire someone else to carry it.

And, my surgeon also told me he expects it will take a year of strengthening work until I’m done.

I wasn’t expecting that, and it made me SAD.

And “done” is also an unknown …

No one really knows exactly what my arm will be like a year from now.

I was thinking I’d be finished with arm rehab by the beginning of summer, so BUMMER!

But, hell – what’s another year after nearly eleven years, right?

I’m focusing on the positive …

I can start taking my camera out and about now, even if I can’t haul a ton of gear with me.

Just the thought makes me very happy.

So, that’s what I’ll try to stay focused on.

Even if I have to start with just a few photos a day …

It’s a start.

And that …?

Is a very good thing!

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California Poppies!

The hills are alive with … wildflowers!

There’s a “super bloom” this year in Southern California due to all the rain we got this winter.

Yesterday, my son and I drove across Ortega Highway ….

Leaving Orange County and heading out towards Lake Elsinore.

My original plan had been to visit Anza Borrego State Park in the desert, but my week just didn’t have enough free time.

I decided a shorter trip was in order, and I’m so glad I ended up at Walker Canyon in Riverside County.

I’ve lived in Southern California since the dinosaurs roamed and I’ve NEVER seen so many California poppies.

California poppies cover the hills this spring due to a Super Bloom.

In fact, when I was still miles away I didn’t realize what I was looking at.

“Why are the mountains such a weird color?” I asked my son.

And then, mile by mile as we approached … the answer became clear.

Wildflowers turn the California hills gold.

We ended up hiking way up the mountains, and far back into the canyon.

The views were more and more stunning the further we went.

It was 93F as we hiked and by the time we returned to my car we were tired and very dehydrated.

(Neither of us had planned to hike so far, but we kept wanting to go “just a little further” once we started.)

With the heat we’ve had this last week, I’m not sure how long the flowers will be blooming.

I’m so glad I had an opportunity to view such a spectacular display of natural beauty.

Please don’t pick the flowers!  (California Poppies)

If you live in Southern California, I suggest a visit but you’d better do it soon.

Also, I imagine the weekends are probably packed with visitors.

The prettiest sights are further along the trails though, and many people don’t want to exert the effort to hike back.

My advice is:  go soon before the blooms are gone, take water and sunscreen, and hike a decent distant back on the trails for the most spectacular views and blooms.

Most of all?

Enjoy!

It isn’t often Southern California gets enough rain to make a super bloom possible.

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Summer in March

It’s been HOT lately.

(It hasn’t been quite as hot on the coast, but it’s been VERY hot 90F/ 33C back in the canyon where I live.)

A great day for a walk in San Clemente!

We’ve gone from months and months of un-California-ish rain to summer.

I’ve had all three of my kids in town and they’ve been loving the pool and beach time.

My oldest son returns to North Carolina today, my daughter is back at work …

My youngest son is here for about one more week.

We’ve spent a LOT of time swimming … even me – with my recovering arm!

There are no words to convey how happy it makes me to be able to swim again!

It’s been a LONG time.

And yes, I can only do a short bit with my arm, but it isn’t that painful …. just very weak.

I’m so excited to continue getting stronger …

By summer I should really be able to USE it!

Yay!!

Frank makes a big splash jumping in for (another!) swim!  (Fred doesn’t like to swim.)

I’ve also been enjoying some beautiful moon-rises from my backyard.

Each night the moon rises over “my” mountain and it never fails to take my breath away.

Moon Rise over my backyard mountain.

On Sunday night I went for an evening walk high up on the bluffs overlooking Laguna Beach.

I left my very hot house only to find it much cooler by the ocean.

In fact, I couldn’t see the ocean at all because it was covered with an extremely thick blanket of fog.

I hiked around for about an hour.

At sunset, I decided to stay and see what would happen.

Imagine my delight to see a sunset ABOVE the thick fog.

I’ve lived in Southern California forever and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.

It was pretty incredible in a very unique way.

Sunset above the fog – the ocean is about a mile straight below the top of the fog bank.

Once the sun dipped below the fog, it couldn’t be seen at all and the “sunset” immediately disappeared.

Sometime soon, I’ll share more photos of the very unique fog blanket pre-sunset.

(Fog by the beach is very normal here, but this was … different!)

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Around Me Now

I thought I’d share a few, unrelated, photos today.

Some of these photos were taken with my “real” camera, and some are from my iPhone.

When I take “real camera” photos, I use my good arm only  . . . as I’ve had to for the last decade.

I can’t wait to hear the doc say I can begin shooting for real!

I’m getting very restless for some camera adventures.

It’s definitely spring here now … even if the calendar doesn’t officially say so.

Mountain view from my backyard deck on a puffy cloud day.

My favorite scent in the entire world is the smell of fresh orange blossoms.

It’s intoxicating.

When the breeze blows the scent through the windows of my house, or when I’m in my backyard ….

I want to bottle it up and save it to enjoy year round.

Orange blossoms on my backyard orange tree – the best scent in the entire world.

Fred.

Fred is around me always … even when he’s just napping.

Honestly, he’s the sweetest, kindest, soul I’ve ever encountered.

A comfortable, napping, Fred … on “his” couch.

We had a long, wet, winter here … and I imagine we might have a few more storms to come before we’re done with it.

After several years of extreme drought, we needed the rain desperately.

The hills behind my house are almost neon green in their “we got rain!!” joy.

I’m also happy we got rain, but let’s be honest …

I’m over it.

I’m ready for lots of days filled with sunshine.

My backyard view just before our most recent storm.  (Taken with a polarizing filter.)

As I’m gradually healing and feeling more like my normal self,

I’m returning more and more to real life.

That includes, of course, walks on the beach.

 

I’ll try to take a few nice beach photos for you soon … most likely with my iPhone until my arm gets a little stronger.

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March 6, 2017

Hello, hello!

My oldest son is home from graduate school in North Carolina for his spring break.

Later this week, my youngest son arrives from Texas for his college spring break.

And, also later this week, my daughter and her boyfriend arrive.

It will be a busy, but fun, few weeks.

Also, I’m hoping to make a trip to Bowers Museum sometime VERY soon to see the Frida Kahlo exhibit.

I’ve always related to Frida Kahlo.

She was in a serious traffic accident when she was eighteen.

She spent her life dealing with her injuries, surgeries, and chronic pain as a result.

She expressed so much of her resulting isolation through her creativity, painting, and photographs.

I know, all too well, how isolating it can be to have a similar type life and I’ve always admired her work greatly.

I’ve been gradually moving forward with my own recovery from Surgery #12.

Paul Newman is trying to restore my confidence.

Right now, he has a lot more faith in me than I do.

I spent the first five years post-accident fully believing I’d make a full recovery “someday.”

Somewhere during the last five and a half years I gave up hope I’d ever use my arm again at all.

All I wanted and hoped for was LESS PAIN.

And now, I have less pain … and, it will hopefully, continue to be even less as I heal more and time goes on.

Paul Newman suggests to me I might someday be able to do Real Arm Things and I scoff at him.

It isn’t that I don’t WANT to believe him, it’s just I can’t even fathom having a working arm again.

Last week he had me put my arm against a wall and, using the wall for support, raise my arm above my head.

The goal was to do this in two sets of 10 … a total of 20 times.

This “exercise” is as easy as it gets post-shoulder surgery.

After four times, with help from my healthy arm/hand to help raise my bum arm, I thought I’d die from the effort.

I managed SIX before needing to stop.

The tech helping me suggested I start practicing at home.

“I have been!” I answered, defiantly AND embarrassed.

(“This was my VERY BEST with lots of home practice,” I wanted to say.)

After time out to rest, I did a second set of six.

This is where I am folks ….

The simplest of tasks are major accomplishments for me.

Also, what I wasn’t expecting?

The chaotic jumble of emotions over this process.

I’ve never been able to “strengthen” my arm before.

Sure, PT’s have tried many times –

And I have failed many times.

Fail, fail, fail, FAIL …. over and over again.

But, this time is REAL.

This is it … the final try.

I am as fixed as I can ever be ….

And now the question is –

What amount of function will I be able to regain?

I bounce from excitement to anxiety.

From fear to fearlessness.

I feel like a failure for not being able to do what “normal” surgery patients can do.

I feel like a rock star for being able to do ANYTHING after 10 years eight months and 12 surgeries.

One minute I’m hopeful, the next I’m totally defeated.

I’m constantly embarrassed such “little” things are so difficult.

No one ever warned me how emotional and confusing this could be.

Am I doing well?

Am I doing terrible?

Should I be able to do more?

Should I be able to do what I’m doing?

Will I be able to do more?

How much more?

How long will it take?

How close to “normal” will I ever get?

Why do I want to laugh AND cry as I struggle through this?

It is so very, unexpectedly, emotional.

I’m filled with fear, hopes, and doubt …. and absolutely zero confidence.

I feel like I’m a one year old trying to take my first steps … wobbly and uncertain.

This is so difficult ….

And so scary ….

And so exciting …

And ….

Did I mention …..

So difficult?

I never thought I’d get here,

And now that I’m here,

I’ve been surprised to find it’s so confusing, and emotional, and crazy!

 

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Saving A Hummingbird

Sometimes birds come inside my house.

It isn’t something I WANT to have happen.

But, I live adjacent to a lot of wildlife – including an Audobon Conservation Site.

And, when I’m home, my backdoor usually stays open so Fred and Frank can come and go as they please.

On Monday evening, around 7 p.m., I discovered a hummingbird flying around on the second floor of my house.

I instantly went to look at the hummingbird nest outside my backdoor … which was empty.

It was already dark outside and I knew Mama Hummingbird was the bird flying around upstairs.

How long had she been in the house?

For a few minutes?

For hours?

How long had her eggs been left outdoors in the cold and rain without her?

And,

How to get a hummingbird downstairs … and then outside??

I was so worried she would fly into something and hurt herself … leaving her eggs in the nest without a mom.

As all these thoughts were running through my head, Mama Bird came out of an upstairs bedroom and was frantically flying around at the top of my stairs.

The ceiling is vaulted in that part of my home and she must have been at least thirty feet above my reach.

But, like a moth, she seemed attracted to the lights.

Quickly, I turned on all my downstair lights and my outdoor patio lights.

I turned off the upstair lights.

Sure enough, Mama Hummingbird – in her effort to get back to her babies – followed the light and was soon buzzing noisily around the downstairs of my house.

I felt victorious, and frightened at the same time.

There are a lot more obstacles in the downstairs part of my home.

I knew I needed to get her outside quickly before she broke a wing, or flew into something and broke her neck and/or legs.

I gradually turned off downstairs lights, guiding her towards my backdoor.

(Her nest is right outside that door!)

In what only took a minute or two, but seemed like hours, I had persuaded her within feet of the door.

But, oh no!

Frank heard the “buzz” of her wings and sprang into action trying to catch her.

I rebuked him loudly, and quickly.

With a lot of dog-dramatic-sulking he stopped and settled at my feet.

Fred, on the other hand, was ignoring everything.

Fred had discovered the shelf of an end table was the perfect height to use as a headrest and he had no intention of moving.

iPhone photo of Fred resting his head on a shelf

I quickly turned all the lights off except for the light right outside the back door … right near Mama Bird’s nest.

She flew towards the door, but then stopped on a window ledge about two feet away.

I think she was confused/panicked and did not understand she couldn’t go through the window.

How to explain the open door to this small creature?

She stood frozen on my windowsill, staring at me.

My mind flashed back to when my daughter had a pet bird several years ago.

I got a towel and approached her slowly.

She stared at me.

I think she knew I wanted to help her.

She didn’t move as I approached.

I covered her with the towel, softly pinning her wings to her side so she wouldn’t break them.

I walked a few steps to the door and opened the towel.

There was the loud buzz of her wings and a blur … she was gone.

It was pouring rain, and very dark.

I couldn’t see where she’d gone, but she had not flown to her nest.

I was happy she could fly ….

That meant she, hopefully, hadn’t injured herself prior to when I picked her up off the windowsill.

I checked her nest a few times before going to sleep Monday night – she was not there.

With sadness, I finally crawled into bed.

How could that motherless nest and eggs make me feel so sad?

Tuesday morning I checked the nest again.

Mama Hummingbird back in her nest keeping her eggs warm!

I was so happy to see her back at home.

Throughout the day, I saw her buzzing around my backyard getting food and then returning to her nest.

I also noticed her nest is lined with soft, supple, Newfie hair.

It must make for a very comfortable home for Mama Hummingbird, and soon – her babies.

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This Is America Now?

In case you aren’t aware there’s a man named Alex Jones who runs a conspiracy website called InfoWars.

Our current president has often said he respects Alex Jones and watches him regularly.

He’s been videotaped saying so – you can see videotapes of his lovefest with Alex Jones via online videotapes.

Alex Jones is, along with other things, responsible for convincing many uneducated Americans that the killings of young, innocent, children in Sandy Hook were “made up.”  I guess he thinks it was a government ruse intended to take away guns or something?  In any case, it has resulted in some of these poor parents who have been devastated by the murder of their children to be CONTINUALLY HARASSED by Alex Jones supporters who want them to “confess” they’re making up the deaths of their beloved kids.

It is heartbreaking.

Can you imagine losing your young child in such a horrific way and then have crackpots harass you for years “to just admit it never happened.”

???

In my opinion, Alex Jones is pure evil.

He spreads hate, lies, and is quite proud to do so.

In addition to the cruel Sandy Hooks lies, Alex Jones also states the US intentionally created 9/11.

Donald Trump is an Alex Jones fan … and believes many of his conspiracy lies – birtherism being one of them.

In fact, Donald Trump primarily believes/gets his news from InfoWars and Breitbart which is why so many people in our country think, “What the hell?” when they hear Trump say outlandish things on a regular basis.

He does, in truth, trust information from these crackpot sources more than he trust the 17 intelligence agencies that advise him.

This week, Donald Trump, has officially made Alex Jones an official presidential information source/adviser to the president.

I am, truly, so frightened for our country.

Sometimes, it helps to turn towards our comedians in times like this.

To keep from crying … it helps to laugh?

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Fountain Pen Fun!

Last weekend, I went up to L.A. to spend some time with my daughter.

On my way to see her, I stopped at the L.A. Pen Show in Manhattan Beach.

A week ago, I didn’t even know such a thing as a pen show existed.

But, I’ve been contemplating buying a pretty fountain pen so I started paying attention to the pen world.

I write with fountain pens 95% of the time, but the ones I use are very  cheap  inexpensive fountain pens.

I didn’t want to buy a super fancy one – some fountain pens cost thousands of dollars!

But, I was interested in trying one that was PRETTY and a little nicer than my current not-pretty fountain pens.

Long story short, I decided to stop at the pen show before meeting my daughter so I could actually TRY the one I was thinking of purchasing.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived and THOUSANDS of people were lined up around the building waiting to get in.

Seriously?

I thought I’d be the only one there!

OK, maybe I did expect a few pen collectors to be there but thousands of people??

THERE ARE A LOT OF PEN NERDS IN THE WORLD … and I’m not even in the beginners league!

It appears mainly men purchase/collect/trade/covet fountain pens?

Ladies?

If you want to meet a man go to a pen show!

I didn’t stay long. I went right to the booth of the brand I was interested in and began playing with the pen I thought I wanted.

And … after asking a few questions, and playing with a few different nib choices,

I bought the very pen I’d been too afraid to buy online without first trying.

Franklin-Christoff fountain pen (Pocket 66 in solid ice)

I love how you can see the ink sloshing around inside it when you write.

Currently, I have a violet/pinkish/reddish ink in it as you can see in the above photo.

And, yes, you can change the ink/color of ink whenever you want.

I’ll probably try a blue/turquoise in it next … and then the pen will appear to be blue.

It writes SO well, too!

I really like it!

The only negative I can find with this pen, is the difficulty in finding it in the first place.

The clear versions of it go out of stock within minutes of being available.

(Clear versions are: Solid Ice, Antique Glass, and Italian Ice.)

I sort of wish I had bought two of them while I had the opportunity.

I like my new pen so much … what if I can never find another one like it?

(Currently, there is no available inventory via the company website.)

In any case, this is definitely my favorite pen now.

Do you have a favorite pen?

Do you like fountain pens?

Or ballpoints?

Or rollerballs?

How about ink?

Do you always write with blue ink? Black ink?

Or do you like lots of color variations??

I mainly write with black ink, but I’ll keep a pretty color rotating in my new fountain pen.