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The OC Economy Is Improving …

I get bored easily reading financial reports.

On the other hand, I can pretty much guarantee you the economy is improving.

Why?

Orange County's financial absurdness seems to be bursting at the seams again.

For instance …

OC Economy Must Be Improving – Story #1:

As I drove past the Money Town High School yesterday, I made note of the new cars belonging to the teenagers:

•  BMW

•  BMW

•  BMW

•  Mercedes

•  Land Rover

•  Land Rover

•  Audi

•  Porsche Cayenne

•  Toyota Tacoma truck

Man, I bet the kid with the $45,000 truck feels like a failure.

What the hell OC?

What are you thinking?

Truth be told, I think the parents buying these cars are just caught up in competing with each other via their kids.

Nauseating!

(And then these same parents wonder why their kids have no incentive to get a job?)

Gag!

Okay, I'm done with my little rant.

OC Economy Must Be Improving – Story #2:

I met a friend for coffee this week.  While we were chatting, a woman I knew many years ago approached to say hello.  She used to live in my little canyon, but she moved several years ago so she'd have an "official" Money Town address.

I barely recognized Old Acquaintance because she's now very, very, plastic.  (Plastic in a It-Doesn't-Look-Remotely-Good sort of way.)  Within the course of only a few minutes she told me about her perfect daughter "who has it all."  Her daughter is gorgeous, smart, and might even get a job with a famous company soon – !

I could hardly contain how impressed I was!

(Am I a bad mom because I've never told near-strangers how gorgeous my daughter is?  Let me tell you – my kids?  They have it ALL!  Well, except they haven't been gifted with luxury vehicles … but, other than that!)

Old Acquaintance also told me about her out-of-state friends who frequently call to chat. Often, her friends mention something fun going on somewhere, so Old Acquaintance and her husband "just hop on a plane" and leave for the weekend.  They do this on a regular basis because, "It's so much fun to fly off and meet them somewhere." 

The rest of the world does this too, right?

We hear about something fun going on far away from where we live and we just "hop on a plane" as the whim may take us. 

OC Economy Must Be Improving – Story #3:

If you're easily offended, stop reading right now.

Yesterday, I heard a woman at the mall laughing with her girlfriend about giving her husband a "before breakfast blow job" (BBBJ) as a means to get him to buy her a Mercedes by lunch.

He did.

We all know men love blow jobs, so really – there's nothing new there …

(Except, perhaps, this particular man's own stupidity.)

I was, however, shocked she was pubicly publicly, and quite loudly, discussing whoring for expensive merchandise.  She seemed quite proud of herself.

("Look Ma – NO HANDS!)

By the way, he also did the dishes for two days after getting his BBBJ.

Did I need to know that?

Seriously,

I was just out shopping for a scarf for my mother-in law …..

© Twenty Four At Heart

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The Flower Shots

I’ve been participating in some photography groups these past few months.

For some reason, people like to do a lot of photography events requiring floral shots.

Personally, I think flowers are one of the easiest things to photograph (if you’ve got a few basic pieces of equipment).

What equipment?

Some of you photographer-types may want to know ….

•  If you’re serious about taking good quality flower shots, you should have a tripod, a macro lens and a cable release.

Flower_Magenta-1
Photo of a dahlia.

I don’t find flower shots to be very challenging, but I do think they’re pretty.  (No offense intended to worldwide floral photographers!)

I do know most people love to view flower photographs.

Centered_W-1
Yellow flower.  Don’t ask me what it is, I don’t know.  It’s just pretty!

The above photo was taken at the beach recently.  I titled it Feeling Centered.

Which beach was I at?

I don’t remember ….

I roam a lot of different beaches.

While on one of my beach trips, I also noticed some orange-ish/pink-ish bouganvilla winding it’s way through aloe vera plants.

Bouganvilla-1
Orange bouganvilla.

I have bouganvilla at my house, but it’s the more common BRIGHT FUSCHIA PINK bouganvilla.

Speaking of my house,

Flowers are easy to photograph even if you’re stuck inside with bad weather.  In fact, it’s kind of fun to change up the look of flower shots now and then ….

White_Spider_Mum-1
White spider mum photographed on black background.

This next photo always makes me start humming the lyrics to Red, Red Wine ….

Ruby_Red-1
Red rose photo, taken recently at Descanso Gardens.

Sometimes I have to look really hard to find something new and unusual to photograph in the flower world ….

I wouldn’t want to fall asleep at the camera, after all.

Confused_Flower_Macro-1
Photo of a very confused flower.

Other times, the beauty of a flower reaches out and seems to beg me to lend it my lens …

Pink_Rose_W-1
Photo of a beautiful pink rose.

How could I ever say no to a flower?

© Twenty Four At Heart

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I Blame You (You’re an Idiot), Not Your Kids

There was a little incident at the beach the other day.

Some of my family members and guests wanted to enjoy a beautiful day at the beach.

We purposely went to a beach very few tourists know about.  It's located in a small cove and doesn't get crowded.  It's a bit of a hike, so even lazy locals don't want to be bothered.  There are no public bathrooms either … another strike against it as far as the crowds go.

(By the way, we peed before we left … please don't pee in my the ocean.  I don't want to swim in your piss!  Do you want to swim in other people's bodily fluids?)

Some of my family/friends arrived first and they went to the far, far, end of the cove by the rocks.  Then they went on the other side of those rocks where there's a narrow, very small, strip of sand available to sit on when the tide is down.  When the tide comes up, there's no beach there at all.  

Ah …. privacy!

Quiet!

Sun_Peek_W-1
Black and white beach photo

Peace!

We were having a great afternoon.  It could not have been prettier.

Late in the afternoon, two boys (about ages 3 and 5) came running around the rocks.  They were laughing and playing.  My first thought, when I saw them was "CUTE!"

I like kids.  I'm, by no means, a kid hater.

I have three kids of my own, two of which are boys.  

The cuteness ended pretty quickly, however, when one of the boys threw sand directly in Briefcase's face. 

Let me clarify, they weren't throwing sand while playing ….

Boy #1 looked right at Briefcase, reached down and grabbed a handful of sand, ran up to Briefcase and threw it directly into his face.

We were … stunned.

And then?

Boy #2 decided to copy his brother and did the same thing.

Boy #1 was running back and forth on our microscopic patch of beach.  Back and forth right across our fairly small blanket, repeatedly, as a matter of fact.

Boy #1 threw sand in one of my friend's faces as deliberately as he had done to Briefcase just moments before.

After the second time, his (I presume) Dad, Grandfather, and another male adult appeared. 

(I later saw the mom sleeping on a beach blanket at the other end of the beach.)

I normally avoid confrontations, but I said -as nicely as I could, "The boys are throwing sand at us."

"Oh, you mean they're acting like kids?" replied Grandpa indignantly.

Ummm ….

"They're being boys," added the dad, clearly irritated with me.

Grandpa, Dad, and Other Adult Male stood there talking to each other – completely ignoring the boys and their behavior.  In their eyes, I had voiced an unimportant complaint.  None of the adults even bothered to look over and see what the boys were doing.  

After all, boys will be boys.

Also?

All three men oozed with the attitude – There's no way OUR kids could be in the wrong.  They're just being boys!

Sand throwing went on for awhile.  Chasing one another across our beach blanket continued as well.

And yes, we did ask the boys to stop on both accounts.  Neither boy even acknowledged we had spoken.

Finally, because it was clear there were no alternatives, we packed up our stuff and left.

As we were walking away, the boys grabbed handfuls of sand once again.  I guess, since we were no longer easy targets, they ran up to their Grandpa and threw it directly at him.  Grandpa was standing up, unlike Briefcase and my friend who had been at eye level with the boys.  The sand flew against his body, not into his face and eyes.

Still …

Grandfather was pissed.

"No throwing sand," he scolded.

In response, Boy #2 picked up a handful of sand and threw it right at Grandfather again.

Grandfather's face turned red in anger.  He began sputtering.

Right then Grandfather looked up at me.

We made eye contact and a light bulb seemed to go on in Grandfather's eyes.

We were leaving.  We had informed them the boys were throwing sand AT us.  They had belittled and ignored the complaint.  Now the boys were throwing sand at HIM and he didn't like it at all.

The other adults, most notably the parents, made no attempt to say anything to the boys.  Apparently, the word no is not in their vocabulary.  

Can someone explain this to me?

Do the parents think they're doing their kids a favor by being "nice?"

Are they completely blind to the fact their kids are not learning behavior boundaries?

And please,

Don't tell me ages 3 and 5 are too young to understand the meaning of no.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Aaaand … Tis The Season?

If you live in the US, I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving weekend.  Actually, I hope you had a nice Thanksgiving weekend wherever you live, and whether or not you celebrated.

My last guest leaves this afternoon.  I will then look around my thrashed house, freak out about The State Things Are In … and begin the process of guest-recovery.  I’m sure I’ll get everything back in order just in time for the return of family and guests in three weeks ….

Here’s a look at what I’ve been doing the past several days:

•  Cooking, cooking, cooking.

•  Eating and drinking too much.  Stretchy pants have never felt so good!

•  Hanging out at the beach.  We’ve had 85F/29.4 C weather.  Crystal clear skies – so beautiful!

Blinded_W-1
HDR photo of the beach last weekend.  And no, I don’t like HDR photography but I was playing with it anyway.

•  Car shopping.  I hate car shopping.  Hate, hate, hate!  However, my current car is leased and the lease is up in a couple weeks.  I need to look at cars in spite of the fact I hate doing it.  (And no, I have no idea what I’ll end up getting.)  What a waste of beautiful weather, don’t you agree?

•  A little Christmas shopping … primarily for/with my daughter while she was in town to try on clothes.

•  A little online shopping … to avoid the malls as much as possible.  I’m a hermit at heart and I hate shopping in crowded malls.

•  Managing a really bad pain flare-up.  (Is there such thing as a good pain flare up?  I think not.)  I’ll try not to bitch too much, but ….?  Whine, whine, whine!!  Also?  OUCH!  I think I’m on the downswing of it now … thankfully.  It, quite honestly, knocked me on my ass for a couple days.

Unstable-1
Unstable bluff area – stay clear!

I felt like I should walk around wearing the above sign, or something similar.  “Extreme pain flare-up, resulting in UNSTABLE moods, STAY CLEAR!”

•  On the positive side, all three of my kids were here for Thanksgiving.  It was so nice.

Sunset_TR-1
Sunset at the beach, pelicans flying.

Did I mention it has been absolutely spectacular here lately?

I love the fall in Southern California.

© Twenty Four At Heart

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1,000 Steps

There's a beach here called 1,000 Steps.

There's a good reason why it's named 1,000 Steps.

It's the very same reason why it isn't a very crowded beach ….

Nike_Steps_W-1
Steps at 1,000 Steps Beach in Orange County.

The little black speck you see waaaaay down the stairs is my friend, Nike.

I recently "made her" climb the stairs with me for exercise.

She was very sore the next day.

And the day after that.

And several days after that.

In fact, ten days later Nike sent me a text message saying she was still sore.

I must be a terrible friend, because the very thought makes me laugh so hard I snort!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Almost Tropical

Sunset a couple weeks ago …

Sun_Down-1
The sunset looked and felt tropical when I took the above photo.

In fact, just looking at this photo makes me want to hop on a flight to Hawaii.

Sigh!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Bourbon Roses

I mentioned I’d try to dig up a photo of a Bourbon Rose.

Since, I’m (sort-of) taking the Thanksgiving weekend off I thought it would be a nice thing to share today.

Bourbon_Roses_W-1
Bourbon Roses, photo taken at Descanso Gardens.

Aren’t they pretty?

They look so different than “normal” roses!

© Twenty Four At Heart

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There’s a Turkey in the Fridge …

My house is pure mayhem right now.

Family, guests, dogs … turkey in the fridge.

Chaos!

Fun chaos, but chaos nonetheless.

I have a secret.

Ever since my car accident, there's a (big) part of me that dreads the holidays.

There's so much I love about this time of year, but no matter what I do –

No matter how I try …

I end up in terrible pain.

Everyone else seems so cheerful and happy, and festive.  I smile outwardly while cringing with awe-inspiring pain.

I remember, years ago, being chided by The Torturer (my then physical therapist).

"You can't do everything you used to do," he'd scold me, sternly.

And I try, I really do TRY to "not do" things.

Regardless, I guess I do more than I'm capable of I should.

It's already started.

A few days ago, along with the arrival of guests, my pain began increasing.

"Why?" I asked myself, exasperated.

I'm asking people to lift things for me.  

I'm trying to avoid any and every thing I know will aggravate my arm/shoulder/neck/back.

And yet …

The pain creeps in.  Like an evil demon it grows, it climbs higher, it breaks down the fortresses I've built to protect myself.

I concentrate on breathing deeply.  I take slow, methodical, breaths when I'm actually tempted to hold my breath instead.  (Because, when pain is that bad, it hurts to breathe.)

There's a part of me looking forward to all the wonderful things the holidays entail,

And a part of me dreading the next few weeks.

I'll have family members lift the turkey and chop vegetables for our Thanksgiving "feast" tomorrow.  Briefcase and the boys will be in charge of scrubbing pans once the cooking is completed.

I'll be aggressive with the programs I run my bionic arm on.

I'll take pain meds early in the day, like I'm supposed to,

(Instead of waiting as long as possible, as I'm prone to do).

I'll also count my blessings –

Because they are many,

And that's one thing I never forget ….

© Twenty Four At Heart

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Beach Houses

I never tire of photographing the beach houses here.  There's such a big variety of styles and locations.  

I spend a lot of time on our beaches.  I mentally critique multi-million dollar homes as if I were truly in the market to purchase one.

"Too modern," I might say – mentally casting one aside.

"Beautiful," I sigh while looking at another.  (Making a note to add another balcony when the Magical House Fairy makes it mine.)

Because I've got a house full of holiday guests, with more on the way, I thought I'd share a few shots of local houses today.  

I've taken these photos in the last two weeks ….

The_Beach_House-1
A beach house on the sand – feet from the ocean.

Inspiration_Point_2-1
Houses on the bluff, in Newport Beach, overlooking the Pacific.  (Intentionally slanted horizon – I'm a photography rule breaker!)

House_On_Bluff-1
A beach house with an ocean view to die for.

Surfer_Boy-1
Ocean view homes with a young boy, about age 4, learning to surf.

If you're worried about staying in good shape, you could always buy a house with a built-in workout.

Step_House-1
Beach house with hundreds of steps.

There are homes on this same beach with escalator/elevators to make beach access less effort.

If you HAD TO pick one of these homes, which one would you take?

© Twenty Four At Heart