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I'm out of town for a couple days.  I'm not going far, and I'll have details about my adventures for you tomorow or Wednesday (depending on how much writing time I can carve out for myself.)

I've spent a lot of time beach hopping lately, which isn't unusual for me any this time of year.  Most of the tourists are gone, and the weather is great.

I love photographing the beaches, but I also love meeting new people.

This is Austin Keen:

Austin is a local skimboarder.

I stopped by Aliso Beach last week after having run a few errands.  I wanted to take a couple scenery shots before the sun set.

(No, Austin was not what I had in mind ….)

Aliso Beach

As I was leaving the beach, I met Austin.

He's very passionate about his sport, and he was happy to let me photograph him for awhile.

Skimboarder, Austin Keen.

I hadn't planned on shooting any people.  I found myself wishing I had brought my telephoto lens to take photos of the skimboarders in action.

Regardless, I wanted to photograph Austin because he has The California Look.

Austin invited me to come back and get more shots.

He wants everyone to learn more about the sport of skimboarding.  

Do you know what skimboarding is?

Skimboarding is a sport which began here in Orange County.  (Lifeguards in Laguna Beach invented it.)

A skimboard is smaller than a surfboard.  It's dropped on the sand, where's there's a little water from a wave, and then the rider stands on it and glides along the surface of the water.  The skimboarder might skim just along the sand.  More often, the skimboarder rides/skims out into the ocean.  Then he/she rides a wave back to shore, similar to surfing.  

I've tried skimboarding, and it isn't as easy as it looks.  

Surfers and skimboarders make for awesome photos.

Next time, I'll get some action shots.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Hiding in Plain Sight


This hummingbird has made a permanent home in a tree by my patio.

I think I should name him.

Any suggestions?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Medicinal Marijuana

How do you feel about the use of medicinal marijuana for chronic pain?

Yes, I'm considering it.

I want to hear what you think.

In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess I might have inhaled, once-upon-a-time, back in the day.  

If my mom is reading this:  It's okay Mom – everybody was doing it.

Even though I live in California, (the land of peace, love, and weed), it has been forever a lifetime since I've been anything but proper and law abiding.  (Concert-attending not withstanding … because if you even breathe at a concert, you're getting a little high regardless of your intentions.)

The use of medicinal marijuana is legal in California.  

A good chunk of California college students have medicinal marijuana licenses even though there's nothing physically wrong with them.  (And to be honest, it isn't just college students, California, is it?)

I've had friends with cancer and other terrible maladies and I've never blinked an eye while fully supporting their use of pot to deal with pain and/or nausea.

I've lived with pain for over five years since my accident, and I haven't thought seriously about using it to relieve my own pain.

Why not?

First of all, I always thought my pain would be going away sometime really soon - after the next surgery, or in just a few weeks …

But, of course, it never has gone away.

And now I know – it never will.

For another reason, I've had (and still have) teens in the house.  Kids I've told to stay away from drugs, abide the laws, and blah, blah, blah.  

I'm re-thinking things now though.

A few months ago, a man I knew online for a couple years died of cancer.  Gregg lived here in Orange County and he was a photographer.  We met on Twitter, and he began reading Twenty Four At Heart.  We became online friends, communicated frequently, and planned to meet up in person for a few photography outings.  

Then Gregg was diagnosed with cancer.

We never did meet "in person."

I regret it, so much.

I think about Gregg a lot.

Shortly before he died, Gregg gave me two pieces of advice.

The first was to buy the 400mm lens I'd been looking at.  (I did.)

The second, was to start using medicinal marijuana.  It had helped him tremendously with pain.  He believed it would help me too.

I've thought about what Gregg said a lot since he died.

This week, my pain management specialist prescribed Fentanyl Patches for me.

I tried wearing a patch for five hours.

It worked.  It helped tremendously with my pain.  I couldn't believe the relief I felt just to get a break from pain for awhile.

Then I took it off.

During the five hours I wore the Fentanyl Patch, I read everything I could about the drug Fentanyl.  What I read, scared the crap out of me.

If I use Fentanyl patches, I will become physically dependent on them.  

Not maybe become dependent- it is a medical fact, I will.

"Physically dependent" means addicted, but without the psychological desire/need.  In other words, a person doesn't get high off the patches, but they cause changes in a person chemically and if I were to stop using them – I'd go through horrible withdrawls.

I've spent over five years of very concentrated effort to avoid addiction to pain meds.

I can't just throw that all away.

Can I?

Do I just give up and accept I will be dependent on hardcore narcotics for life?

I am agonizing over this ….

And if you (or a loved one) is using Fentanyl Patches I'm not saying they're bad, or you're wrong …

I know the patches have helped SO many people deal with horrible pain.  (They helped me a lot for those five hours.  It would be wonderful to have that degree of pain relief all the time.)

I would never, ever, feel negatively towards anyone trying to cope with the crap life deals us.

I'm just having a hard time determining if they're right for me.

I also discussed the use of marijuana with my pain doc.

He said hundreds of his patients use it and report it helps.

Would it help me?

I don't know.

Would it help enough to cut down on the use of pain meds?

I don't know.

Is it less addictive than Fentanyl Patches?

Yes, it is.

Do I try it as my last resort before using Fentanyl Patches?

What do you think?

© Twenty Four At Heart 

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The Last Days of Summer

It isn't officially fall yet, but my kids are back in school and fall is almost here.

I'm noticing little things that signal the change in seasons …

The sun is setting lower on the horizon.

A couple arguing at sunset on Laguna Beach.

(What do you think they're arguing about in the above photo?  I had some people make pretty funny guesses when I posted that photo on G+.)

Even though the weather is still warm/hot it feels different these past few days.


No stopping sign.

When I go for walks, I find myself less likely to walk with my feet in the water ….


Ocean and beach framed by palm trees.

The ocean is feeling a little colder.

Fall colors are showing up in my yard.

Yellow flower in my backyard.

Dusk is arriving noticeably earlier.

Silhouette of a hummingbird at dusk.

It might not officially be fall, but it's feeling like fall in a lot of little ways.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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It’s An Imperfect World

I saw Dr. Painless yesterday.

Yes, I'm having another severe pain flare-up.

Last time I saw Dr. Painless, he gave me a drug called Nucynta which worked very well for me.  I was ecstatic.  Finally, a drug that truly worked and took away the pain!

Unfortunately, I also suffered some severe side effects and had to discontinue using it pretty quickly.  

Finding drugs strong enough to handle my pain without horrible side effects, that I can function on, is a challenge.

In any case, I'm trying Fentanyl Patches and a few other things now.

A part of me is giving up the fight.

I feel defeated right now because I'm in a lot of pain.  There never really seems to be an answer for it either.

At the same time,

I know I will rally again, like I always do.

Hopefully, I'll be back tomorrow with a brighter outlook.

In the meantime, it seemed fitting today to share with you this photo.

I've taken to titling my photos recently.  

This one is called:

It's An Imperfect World

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Identifying the Lizard Man

Last Friday, I told you about the scary Lizard Man living in my backyard.

I was amazed how many people left comments saying they were disappointed I didn't risk my life to photograph IT.

Seriously, people?

Why don't you go photograph the scary half-man, half-snake, half-lizard??

What if it leaped at me, gnashing it's teeth, and swinging its tail?

If it did chase me, my friend (Nike) would be no help.

I already learned she's more concerned with making Lizard Sex Jokes than helping her almost-life-long friend.

Nike would probably ask me if Lizard Man has a long tongue instead of saving my life.

I'm sure he does.

(And yes, I do have a zoom lens, but there isn't a zoom made big enough for Lizard Man.)

I did venture outside to look for Lizard Man   after a few days  but I didn't see him.

Maybe he slithered back down to the lake behind my house?

Maybe he found a cave in the canyon to live in instead of my tree?

I even lay down under the tree, several days later, and looked straight up (risking my life!!) to see if he was hiding.


There was no giant, over-sized, Lizard Man in my tree.

I decided to start Googling around to try and identify Lizard Man.

I don't think I found him, exactly, but I think "it" might have been related to this thing I found photos of on Wikipedia …

This is a Rough-Skinned Newt.

Are you creeped out yet?

Here's another view of a Rough-Skinned Newt.

California newts are very poisonous.

And you wanted me to photograph it?????

Now, the "thing" I saw didn't look like this exactly but it must be from the same reptile family …

Half-lizard, half-snake looking.

(Half man too – but that just might be a reflection of the men I know?)

It was a mutant, poisonous, lizard-snake-man!

We have a lake behind our house, so it is entirely possible whatever IT is slithered/crawled/creeped up from the lake.

IT was, at least ten inches long, probably at least a foot!

(That's what she said!)

It was fat like the first newt photo I showed above.

It was ugly.

And freaky. 

I'm keeping a wary eye out for The Return of Lizard Man, but I'm hoping he's gone for good.

If any of you would like to volunteer to come catch him  and move him a million miles away from my house,  you're welcome to come visit!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Venice Beach

Venice Beach, in Los Angeles county, is more famous for its boardwalk than for its actual beach.

When people talk about "those crazy Californians" they're most likely talking about the type of characters you run into at Venice Beach.

The people watching is the best you'll find anywhere.

In fact, if you stick around long enough –

There's probably nothing you won't see at Venice.

Approaching the Venice Beach boardwalk.

Weed is very popular in Venice.  There's a large Venice sub-culture supporting the legalization of marijuana.  Stores selling bongs, pipes, etc., are common.  So are small shops acting as medical offices.

Sign for medical marijuana evaluation.

Forty bucks and a flash of your identification gets you in to see a doctor.  Tell the doctor you have a medical issue, of any sort, and you'll get a license for the use of medical marijuana.  (More on this in an upcoming, separate, post.)

If you're not into kush, you can find other drugs too.

Botox on the Beach.

Who doesn't come from a day on the beach thinking they need a little Botox?


Didn't you mention needing Botox the last time you went to the beach?

The boardwalk is lined with shops selling everything imaginable.

Venice Beach boardwalk shops.

Venice Beach boardwalk.

Venice is sort of old, sort of dirty, sort of gritty, and a "must-see-to-believe."

More than anything, though –

Venice Beach is about people watching.

Man at Muscle Beach, Venice Beach, California.

And, it's definitely the best people watching anywhere on the planet!

© Twenty Four At Heart