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Leaving The Bubble

I'm not here today.

I've decided to leave "the bubble" for the day.

And yes, a lot of us do refer to Orange County as "the bubble."  (A bubble of unreality.)

I'm leaving this:

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And this:

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And this:

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To do a lot of sitting in this:

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Ugh!

Yes, I'm spending the day in Los Angeles on a photography outing.

The thing is ….

When outings like this are planned, they often end up being very different experiences than what was initially expected.  I'll have details of what really happens tomorrow.  (You can also follow updates from me on Twitter today.)

In the meantime, let's hope I don't end up in four hours of traffic on my way home at the end of the day.  There aren't many things I hate more than L.A. traffic.

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Blonde Moments

Do you ever have a month day when you feel really stupid?

As if, perhaps, your IQ is dropping ten points at a time every half hour?

No?

Yesterday morning my iPhone arrived.

To know how excited I was, you'd have to understand how much I've come to hate my Blackberry.  I would have hugged the UPS man, but it wasn't my normal UPS man.  Instead, it was an unknown UPS man who might have been alarmed if I went flying into his arms when I opened the door.  (My regular UPS man is used to all sorts of unpredictable behavior on my part and wouldn't have blinked.)

After he left, I tore into the box, eager to play with my new toy.

The directions informed me all I needed to do was sync the phone to my iTunes library and the phone would be activated.

Go me!

The phone synced (apps loaded, etc.), but the phone itself did not activate.

Hmmmm.

I called Verizon for help.

A NICE man was instantly on the phone helping me.

I explained the problem to him.

"Hmmmm," he said.

"Exactly!" I replied.

It didn't take long for him to look up my account and say, "Ma'am?  You don't happen to be calling me from your Blackberry right now?"

"Yes, I am," I answered, amazed at how intuitive he was.  (I even forgave him for calling me ma'am – which I hate – because he was SO smart!)

"Well, ma'am you'll have to turn that phone OFF in order for your new phone to activate on that same phone number."

OH!

::  Light bulb!  ::

I've got to give him credit for not laughing at me, at least not while I was still on the line with him.

Ahem.

An hour later, I was in a waiting room biding my time until my annual mammogram.

"What a great opportunity to play with my new phone and learn all its tricks," I thought.

I clicked on one app, figured out how it worked, and then moved on to try another.

I got bored quickly and decided to play Angry Birds for awhile until it was my turn to go back for the test.

I've played Angry Birds many times on our iPad.

No big deal, right?

Except the next thing I knew Angry Bird music was BLARING in the (previously) perfectly quiet waiting room.  I didn't know how to silence it.  I didn't know how to turn the phone off.

I basically don't know how my own phone works at all.

And oh yes, you can laugh all you want.  Because you know what I did?  I sat on my phone to try and muffle the Angry Bird music.  Yes, I did.  Sitting on my brand new iPhone only accomplished one thing …

It made it sound like my ass was singing.

I don't even have words to describe the looks I was getting from the other women in the waiting room.  The expression on the face of the nurse who came to call me back for the test was priceless.  As I rose to walk back with her, an iPhone appeared out of my ass with increasingly loud music.

I was so embarrassed.

I kept pushing and touching things on it and eventually it got quiet.  I'm not sure HOW I silenced it, but I did.

Really, you ought to just come walk around with me for a day.

I'm full of unexpected laughs and you'll never be bored.

© Twenty Four At Heart  

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Tea Time

I'm wavering off my normal blogging path today to discuss tea.  

Ages ago, when I had only one reader, I wrote a post about tea. 

To be honest, I barely remember it myself.

I drink coffee every morning, but I like tea too.  The weather is so warm here, a lot of time tea means a glass of iced tea for lunch.  I'll often make a cup of hot tea when I'm writing or editing photos.

Tea has a lot of health benefits.  I think a lot of us know that, but how many of us really drink it (especially here in the United States)?  

I've always been a tea drinker, but I increased my tea consumption a lot after being diagnosed with melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer) several years back.  Tea, green tea in particular, is an "anti-cancer" beverage.  It has been over six years now, with no cancer recurrence.  I'm not sure if that can be completely attributed to my tea drinking or not, but I think the health benefits of tea are real.

I'm sure I don't drink as much tea as I'm "supposed to," but I know I drink more than most of my friends and family members.  My son, PR, loves tea too and drinks a cup most nights as he works on homework.

In recent months, I've been drinking less tea than normal.  Over the last two weeks, I got my butt kicked by The Plague.  On Friday, I went down to my favorite tea shop and said, "Help! Make me well!"

They fixed me a large cup of tea which was a blend of four different teas.  

The four teas were:  

•  Silver Yin Zhen Pearls which is a white tea.  It's supposed to detoxify your body and provide antioxidants.  I needed to be detoxified, did I mention I've had The Plague?

•  Gyokuro Imperial which is a green tea.  Green teas are rich in antioxidants, may prevent some cancers, and help boost the immune system.  My immune system was in need of some serious boosting.

•  Peppermint which helps with many ailments including sore throats, headaches, and pain.  I'm not a big fan of peppermint flavored things, but it's very healing.  (Also, I think most people like the flavor of peppermint – I'm just weird!)

•  Honeybush Vanilla which is an herbal tea (blend) rich in vitamins and antioxidants.

Three of the teas listed above steep together for 5 minutes.  The Gyokuro Imperial is added in for just the last 45 seconds of steeping time.  

I'm not kidding, I started feeling better that afternoon.  My sore throat decreased in severity, my coughing lessened … I just felt better.

Coincidence?

Probably.

And yet, it re-motivated me to increase my tea consumption.

Did you know Rooibos tea can help with allergies and colds?

Or that Oolong tea boosts your metabolism, causes you to process carbohydrates faster, and may help with weight loss?  (By the way, Jasmine Oolong is one of my all-time favorite teas.)

Different teas have different health benefits.  I find the science behind tea fascinating.

I'm fortunate to have an amazing tea shop close by.  

The shop is also very expensive.  But?  I haven't found better tea, or a better selection of tea, anywhere.  When I buy tea, I store it in air-tight tins.  The tea stays fresh for a year if it's stored this way.  If you leave your tea sitting out, it won't stay fresh.

My husband cringes when he sees the receipts from the tea shop.  (He doesn't drink tea, ever, so the only thing my tea habit represents to him is less money.)

The positive?

A tin of tea lasts so long, I don't need to buy it very often.  I suppose, when you look at it THAT way, it isn't as expensive as it first appears.  I usually only stock up on teas once a year.

I ended up making a second trip back to the tea shop yesterday.  I decided to purchase the four "get well" teas they steeped together for me last Friday.  I want to have them here for myself, and my family, in the future.  Three of them are great preventative medicine.  I intend to drink them on a regular basis – either individually or steeped together.

This isn't a sponsored post, but I know inquiring minds will want to know.  I buy my tea at a local Teavana store.  I sometimes use a teapot, but I most often steep my tea in their Perfect TeaMaker which I love.  (It's also a great conversation starter – everyone who sees how it works falls in love with it.)  

I also use Teavana tins for storing my tea because I don't want to spend the money to buy high quality tea and have it lose its health benefits before I steep it.  (I buy the cheap Teavana tins vs. the more expensive decorative ones.)  When I run out of tea, I take my tins into the store to have them refilled.  This saves me from having to buy more tins for storage.

I look at my tea purchases as an investment in health.  Drinking tea is an investment in me.

And now, I'm curious.

Are you a tea drinker?

And if so, what's your favorite tea?

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Dancing In The Moonlight

I've recently realized I have almost no photos of my life growing up.  I'm sure a few photos must have been taken … but where are they now?

It's as if I didn't exist until I reached my twenties.  And then, of course, once I hit 24 I became camera shy.

My son's girlfriend invited him to her high school's Winter Formal last weekend.  They had a great time.  I was honored to be selected as their photographer for the event.  (And yes, I did rouse myself out of my sick bed to perform photographer duties.)

Have I mentioned I love photography?

I don't share photos of my kids here, but I think the following photos all protect my son's privacy.  (You know, so he can post all the ones showing his face on Facebook instead of me posting them on Twenty Four At Heart.)  If you were following me on Twitter last weekend, you may have already seen some of these.

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My son, of course, is the one who opted to wear sneakers with his tux.  He can't help himself, he inherited the casual gene from me.

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Waiting for their friends to arrive for a photo session.

The flowers:

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The wrist corsage, and my son's boutineer, were made by the same florist so they matched perfectly.  Very pretty!

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I wish I had photos from the dances I went to as a teen.

At least I know my son will have these to look back on.

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© Twenty Four At Heart

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From The Car Window

I took this photo at the end of the day yesterday from my car window.

Don't chide me – Briefcase was driving.

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Not bad for a quick snapshot from the car!

**  I've already had requests from people wishing to buy this photo.  It has been uploaded to the album "2011" on my photo site.  **

© Twenty Four At Heart

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From The Deck

The upstairs deck off the back of our house provides unbelievable views of our canyon.

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My dogs can stay up there for hours watching for wildlife.

[Wildlife equals:  birds (including hawks, quail, vultures, ducks and owls), rabbits, deer, bobcats, coyotes, snakes, squirrels and an occasional mountain lion.]

I can too!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Take Two

[This just became the most boring post of all time, but it didn't start off that way – I promise!]

I just wrote an entire post, hit "save" and my software program ATE it!

I suppose I should start over and save it repeatedly after every word I type.

This …

Is …

Taking …

A …

Long …

Time…!

Oh, never mind -

To be honest, I'm too tired to start all over again.  I'm still sick – the sickest I've ever been as an adult.  I rattle when I breathe.  I sleep about 20 hours per day.  I wake up to get PR off to school and home again.  That's about it.

I owe a lot of you emails, etc. and I'm sorry.  I'm struggling through this sickness as best as I can.  Briefcase is still out of town which is, I suppose, a blessing and a curse at the same time.

My big excitement was watching the Season 4 finale of Dexter a day ago.  (Eeeeeek!)

Oh, and I ordered a Verizon iPhone too.

I'm very excited to finally be replacing my Blackberry Storm which I … don't love.

Which brings me to this …

If you've got a smartphone, what are your favorite apps?

What do you find yourself using the most often? 

I'm also curious as to whether you use Google Calendar, iCal or some other type of calendar?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Deja Vu?

A few months ago, I rose early one morning.  I cleaned my lenses, packed my camera and drove to one of my favorite, secret, secluded beaches.

The beach was deserted.

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It was a beautiful, spectacular, morning.

I was thrilled to have the beach to myself, but not surprised.  It was early in the day still, and it was off-season.

I took a leisurely walk down the beach, snapping photos as I went.

After quite awhile, I turned around and walked back in the direction I came from.

And that's when I first saw him.

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From a distance he was no more than a mere speck of red, sitting on some rocks out on the point.

"Annoying," I thought.

How dare he show up and ruin my solitude.

I walked toward him, because my final destination was the cove on the other side of the point.

As I approached, I knew he was as aware of my presence as I was of his – and yet, he ignored me. 

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He sat there, taking in the beauty of the morning, with a cup of coffee in his hand.

I crossed the path behind him on my way to the cove.

"Beautiful morning," I said because I felt I had to say something.

"It really is," he agreed, still not looking in my direction.

And then, when I had taken one step past him, he asked, "Where are you going?"

I turned to face him.

At the same moment, he stood.

Our eyes met.

I've thought about that moment over and over again.

What happened next made no sense.  

Recognition.

Surprise.

I felt startled … stunned, actually.  

He had a similar reaction.

He actually took a step backward, as if in shock.

"It's you!" my brain seemed to scream, but instead I just stared at him wide-eyed.

And then, we were talking … making inane small talk.

I'm going to the cove.

You're a photographer?

I write about, and photograph, The OC. 

Do you live here?

Yes, right there … (with a wave of his hand towards the homes on the sand).

It wasn't physical attraction.  

It wasn't romantic. 

It wasn't sexual.

It was unexplainable recognition of a total stranger, and it was so strong it was almost frightening.  There was no question we were both experiencing the same sense of overwhelming familiarity.

"I know him, but I've never met him.  This doesn't make sense," I thought.

But at the same time, for some reason – it did.

After a few minutes, I went on my way.  

I felt shaken and disconcerted by the encounter.

I hiked to the cove. 

I began shooting photo after photo.  Rocks, tide pools, waves, the bluffs … click, click, click went the shutter.  With each photo I wandered a little further down the beach.

About twenty minutes went by.

I knew, before I looked up.  

I could feel him watching me.

I turned back, towards the point … now fairly far away from where I was.

He stood there at the tip of the rocks.

Facing me.

Riveted.

He was wondering who I was, just like I was wondering who he was.

We stood there, staring across the distance, for a few minutes.

I turned away first.  Raising my camera to my eye, I began shooting again.

In time, I made my way back up to the point.  It was time to head home.

He was gone.

My eyes searched the houses … one of which, is his home.

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"Who are you?" I whispered.

All these months later …

I still find myself wondering.

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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Random

I seem to be unable to do more than sleep all of a sudden.  It's like someone is sneaking sedatives into my morning coffee.  I wake up, get PR off to school and fall back to sleep until it's time to pick him up again.  I never sleep this much when I'm sick … this year's version of the plague has seriously knocked me on my ass.

Hopefully I'll feel human again by tomorrow.

I have a story to tell you, but no energy to tell it.

Instead, I offer you a few recent photos to hold you over for another day.  

Thank you for your patience, by the way.

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I love lavender.  It makes me so happy.  This photo was taken in my backyard not too long ago.  Even the photo makes me happy …. lavender – yummy!

We have clear, very windy, weather right now, but a couple weeks ago there was fog at the beach.

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It wasn't super cold, but I was still surprised to see this couple emerging from the water after a swim.

In fact, I thought this other couple was a little smarter:

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They looked so romantic out on their walk.  Maybe they were really arguing the whole time?

Here's a photo of the boardwalk by the Huntington Beach pier.

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It's always so busy there.  Lots of people, lots of activities … lots going on.

The last photo I want to share with you today is one I took last spring.  I keep staring and staring at it in my photo library, but for some reason I've never shared it.

I took this photo in San Diego county.

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It's a Danish style building.  It's located about a a block from the ocean.  I was on a small hill looking down towards the building  when I took this photo.  The fog was rolling in from the ocean, but had not yet enveloped the building.  

I don't know why, but this photo captivates me.  I find myself staring at it again and again.

I hope you like it too.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Vroom! Vroom!

First of all, I want to update you on yesterday's post.  I saw my doc yesterday morning and he concluded I'm sick.  (Thanks doc!)  I think the rattling in my chest, when I attempt to breathe, gave me away.  He has me on TWO antibiotics.  I've never been prescribed two antibiotics simultaneously before.  Ever.  He said my lungs are so infected, he didn't think any "one" antibiotic could cover the "full spectrum" I need.   

Whatever that means.

When I was waiting to see the doc I sent out this tweet:

Sitting in the docs waiting room w a bunch of sick people. Hope I don't catch anything. Oh, wait …

In any case, hopefully I'll be rebounding quickly now that my body is getting flooded with germ killing antibodies.

Let's hope.

(Nike's currently on her THIRD attempt at antibiotics in an attempt to recover from The.Sickness.From.Hell.  She and I?  We're quite the pair right now!)

Now, on to today's topic …

Cars.

Cars?

Yes, cars!

And don't worry – I (hopefully) won't bore you – I'm somewhat inappropriate even when the topic is cars.  I can't seem to help myself.

People in Southern California are obsessed with their cars.  Some people argue it's because the traffic is so bad here, we practically live in our cars – making them more important to us.  People eat, sleep, have sex, do their make-up, read, shave, text, talk on the phone, parent, argue and do everything else imaginable while "driving" here.  We take the term "distracted driver" to a whole new level.

Sadly, in Orange County (particularly South Orange County) I think the biggest reason cars are so important is the Status Factor.  Luxury cars, preferrably with personalized license plates, are the rule rather than the exception here. 

Mercedes, BMWs, Land Rovers, Maseratis, Lamborghinis, Bentleys, Jaguars, Audis, Porsches, etc., are a dime a dozen.  They're all so common, I don't even really see them anymore.  (The exception being when I see teens driving them.  That still makes me want to vomit profusely.  What is wrong with OC parents?  Why do they think they need to gift their 16 year old with an $80,000 car?)

However, I do notice all the luxury cars when I've been away from the OC and then return.

"Oh look," I think.  "The Land of Luxury Vehicles again."

All the expensive cars become pretty boring, actually.  The excitement comes when you see an old beat up clunker.  Now THAT'S unusual here!

The other day I was on the freeway when this 1960 Corvette passed me:

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That's the other thing about this area.

The really rich?

Well, for them a luxury car, or two, or ten, is not enough.  A lot of people around here collect classic cars. 

Sure, this being Southern California, some classic cars look like this:

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They compete with other cars like this:

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I want you to know, all of these car photos were taken in less than a millisecond.  I'd see a car passing by and "click" with no time to make camera adjustments.  (In my mind, that's the difference between a snapshot and a photograph.)

There are also way too many of the I-Have-A-Small-Dick-And-Need-To-Compensate-For-It cars.

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Now, I want to apologize upfront to any of you out there who drive a Lamborghini and have a big dick.  Or for that matter, even an average sized dick.  Clearly, I'm not referring to you with my generalization.

I took all of these car photos in one afternoon when I went out shooting for two hours.  (As in shooting photos, not shooting guns.)  If I'd actually been concentrating on cars as photo objects, I probably would have come back with many more examples to share with you.

Still, considering the car photos were a mere afterthought, I came away with at least one shot I was really proud of. 

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Even I, a non-car person, thought this one was a beauty.

© Twenty Four At Heart